Pokémon Go, the augmented reality (AR) game, debuted in July 2016 and, less than a month later, is now the biggest mobile game ever. In the first seven days, there were over 7 million downloads of the game, eclipsing previous record games like Angry Birds and Candy Crush.
The game uses location, time and other heuristics to enable players to go to different locations at different times and catch Pokémon. When in the right place, at the right time, players can see Pokémon overlayed on a camera image from their phone’s camera, catch them, and use them as characters in game play.
The success of Pokémon Go illustrates that people will engage, in a very large scale, in augmented reality, if its done right.
Over the last few years there have been several forays into virtual and AR, including Facebook’s Oculus rift, Microsoft’s Hololens and Google’s Google Glass. But nothing has yet hit mainstream. But it is likely that technology enhancements will continue to decrease the size and improve the performance of these wearables in the near future.
Once visual wearables are readily available, the world of advertising may see radical change. In fact, if the Google Glass had been released with a Pokémon Go style app, perhaps we would already be there
Imaging wearing glasses with AR capability. As you walk along the street, instead of Pokémon popping into your vision, imagine McDonald’s putting a prize or gold coin in front of you to collect, entitling you to a free coffee or ice cream. Not only could this advertising be totally customised to the individual (location based, frequency of purchase, buying preferences, propensity to up-buy etc), through AR it is far more likely to be always available and in front of the customer than traditional or digital advertising.
It could even be used to provide alternative TV ads etc or billboards could hold traditional messages, as well as individually customised ads through AR.
This is going to change advertising in a major way, and quite possibly very quickly.