Like everyone else, I’m sure you haven’t missed the news of Pokémon Go taking the world by storm, combining augmented reality with your everyday smart phone. Children, adults, the IBA editorial team – everyone’s wandering around outside with their eyes glued to their phone.

Thankfully for our clients – some of who are likely reading this – the IBA offices aren’t exactly teeming with Pokémon. But it did get us thinking about how we can apply the lessons learned from Pokémon Go’s ascendancy to the world of PR and marketing.

Hijacking the trend, not the Pokémon

First, we’ve seen plenty of brands trying to ‘hijack’ the Pokémon Go bandwagon to gain exposure – a topic my colleague Jamie covered in last week’s Level Pitcher blog. But this has mostly been B2C organisations looking to draw players to and inside their businesses, or simply tie their brand to a more popular one. So instead, let’s take a look at the technology behind the game’s success.

According to recent research, mobile users are spending more time per day on Pokémon Go than they do on social media sites such as Facebook. Part of the appeal is the novelty of augmented reality (AR) bringing characters from the game into the real world. The future applications for marketing are broad, and B2C companies such as IKEA have already dabbled with AR through customer’s smart phones and tablets – so why not B2B?

Thinking out of the box – and out of this world

Think trade shows where prospects are able to pick up a tablet and see how your equipment would look when installed on their office or shop floor. Or maybe even take that a step further, budget depending! IBA was at the Farnborough International air show last week, where potential aircraft buyers were flying fighters in hugely realistic simulators.

Overlay this image with technical details and product information as an alternative to sending prospects away clutching heavy catalogues, and already you have an edge over your rivals in the next booth handing out leaflets.

In a digital age, people are highly receptive to marketing techniques that bring something different such as emerging technology to the table. The huge appeal of Pokémon Go across age groups only proves this point further. Let me put it this way – would you be more willing to stare at a billboard poster, or get hands on with cutting-edge technology that actually offers some engagement?

In the next five to ten years, I think we’ll see augmented reality evolve into a tool that can be effectively harnessed for marketing purposes. Have you seen any novel marketing applications of augmented reality? If so, leave a comment below.

Simon Woolley, engagement specialist at IBA International

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