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Retailers tap Pokemon Go

News, 15 July 2016

NEW YORK: A week into the Pokémon Go craze, users are reported to be spending 33 minutes a day in the app – 50% more than the average time spent on Facebook – with retailers and media owners looking to cash in.

The engagement figure reported by Advertising Age comes from app store analytics firm Sensor Tower and indicates just how big the summer fad has become. While game developer Niantic hasn't released any data on downloads, SimilarWeb, another analytics firm, said that 5.9% of all US Android users opened the app on Monday.

Niantic CEO John Hanke told the Financial Times earlier this week that monetisation options included "sponsored locations", with businesses paying the developer to become locations within the virtual game board – "the premise being that it is an inducement that drives foot traffic".

And Redditors who have examined the game's code claim that burger chain McDonald's is already lined up as one of the first sponsors, with one telling Gizmodo "it looks like they're going to hold a promo with McDonald's which'll turn them into all gyms".

"Gyms" and "Pokéstops" are real-world places where players can spot and train Pokémon characters.

Some retailers are already utilising "lures" – which can be bought in the game to attract Pokémon characters to specific locations – to attract people to their stores.

One coffee chain franchise owner told Ad Exchanger that half of his locations had PokéStops in their geo-range. "We'll be measuring the difference in foot traffic at certain times between those with lures and those without," he said.

"I can tell you already though that at the locations where we have been keeping lures open all day, it's the best ROI we've ever spent on marketing."

And businesses unlucky enough not to be near a PokéStop are reported to be improvising by offering discounts to games who activate "incense" – an item that draws Pokémon to an individual user – or who use social media to show Pokémon in their location; the theory being that one will attract the other.

Media owners with rights to Pokémon series and movies have also reported increased viewing of this content and are using it to attract new subscribers.

Data sourced from Advertising Age, Financial Times, Gizmodo, Ad Exchanger, Adweek; additional content by Warc staff