Pokémon GO has all but disrupted (sorry, had to!) my social life. It started one night at the bar. A friend was excited to find the establishment we were in had a “gym” waiting to be explored. Discussion and comparison of collections ensued. I felt left out, so I downloaded it when I was back on Wi-Fi (typical millennial behavior).

The basic concept of Pokémon GO is accessible, inclusive and a good reason to just go walk around your neighborhood. You create an avatar that exists on a grid that, geographically, is identical to where you are in real life. Walking through the grid in the app (and the sidewalk in real life), you come across various Pokémon characters to catch. You earn points, bump levels and have fun. I spent my lunch hour catching as many as I could—there was even one in the office! Then a few things started to click with me:

  • First, the app is free, so what kind of Big Brother/Big Data collection of all my attributes and behavior is being collected? I can venture to guess, a lot. Loads of media coverage have confirmed this suspicion.
  • Next, three words: location-centric marketing. Pokémon GO is bringing people—distracted or otherwise—into the literal storefronts of businesses and creating numerous marketing opportunities.
  • Lastly, I wonder what brands are already starting to capitalize and monetize their presence. Would I enjoy them more from a marketing and communications standpoint if they embrace and participate in Pokémon GO?

Some marketing and entrepreneurship bloggers call Pokémon GO “the next big marketing channel,” urging businesses to see if their location is a PokeStop and embrace this coveted status. Inc. commented on some businesses leveraging local marketing to do this, ranging from the unimaginative to the more creative. A good example was the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Ark., that created relatively more robust content around the Pokémon on its grounds.

For businesses that aren’t brick-and-mortar or directly consumer-facing, the jury is still out. And that’s OK, as the game has scratched the surface of possibilities with only being out on the market for a week. Mumbrella called the widespread use of augmented reality the beginnings of a marketing renaissance—the daily usage has already surpassed Twitter, after all. We have yet to see how brands will respond to these possibilities and look forward to continued discovery and discussion around it.

As for me, my battery is low, I think I’ve used about half of the data for my billing cycle and already look forward to the less-buggy version two.