The data is in: it’s not kids that are playing Pokemon Go

The Pokemon Go phenomena is much more than a game for kids; it's a benchmark lesson in marketing and audience reach, says Alice Almeida.

Unless you are completely removed from civilization, you would have seen that Pokémon has made a huge comeback with the launch of its Pokémon GO augmented reality mobile game, and what a comeback it has been.

My Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, news sites, and even my radio station has been hijacked by this new craze. My younger brothers Facebook has revolved around finding Pokémon characters such as Snorlax. My advice to him when I first saw this was “Snorlax? Is that a snoring medication?”

I have now been blocked from commenting on his posts.

alice almeida- hitwise

My knowledge on this whole Pokémon thing is zero but my fascination at how something can go from nothing to the such a great demand that it breaks the internet, was enough to draw me into wanting to know more (from a data perspective, of course).

Firstly, for those who are unaware of the Pokémon GO game, it basically involves users hunting the city trying to find, capture, battle, and train virtual Pokémon characters who can only be seen though the virtual reality app. This might explain why so many people are walking the streets, watching their phone excitedly and then randomly screaming “I found you!”.

pokemon in supermarketSo let’s get into the data. Using AudienceView, the new digital marketing intelligence tool from Hitwise, I was able to delve into the online behaviours of those who have shown a strong interest in Pokémon GO (here, strong interest is defined as those who searched for and visited www.pokemon.com).

For those of you who feel they should know, be kind to yourself. If you are over the age of 35, you are excused; 67% of those who have shown a strong interest for Pokémon GO are aged 18-34.

This age group holds incredible power when it comes to launching anything digital. They have made ‘Pokémon Go’ the 12th most searched for term across all online searches in the past week, across mobile and desktop.

However, split this into Mobile only (which equated to 54% of all ‘Pokémon Go’ search terms) and that jumps up significantly to fifth spot, just behind Facebook and election results. For a product that launched just a week ago, these results are huge.

pokemon alice almeida blue graph

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In further evidence that women should not be ignored when it comes to online gaming, 40% of those who have shown a strong interest are female!

pokemon alice almeida male female split graph

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Let us put this into perspective. There were 313,300 Australians searching for ‘Pokémon Go’ in the week of the launch. That made it the fifth most searched term of all searches (33,335 in total), and with 1,098 search term variations for Pokémon Go, the interest and desire for more information on this game is extreme. Beyond extreme.

pokemon alice almeida search terms graphs

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Tips and guides on how to play and the status of the server crashing were the most searched for terms on mobiles for the launch week. Interestingly enough, ‘how to play Pokémon’ is researched more on a desktop and in delving into this segment I discovered why.

Of the top 10 ‘Pokémon Go’ search terms, it the only term skewed to an older audience.

This is not the first augmented reality game that Niantic, the company responsible for building the Pokémon GO game, has released. Back in 2013 it released a game called Ingress.

Ingress game home screenIngress performed relatively well, but nothing in comparison to the Pokémon GO game. Why? Well my guess is it’s because Pokémon was huge for this audience as a child and this has reignited their love for the Pokémon brand.

I am taking three learnings from all this:

  • If you are needing to target this increasingly difficult to reach audience, you need to understand their desires and behaviours to be able to speak their language. This has showcased their love of games but most importantly, their love of their mobiles. Which leads me to my second learning.
  • This is a prime example of the power of mobile as a device for this audience. 53% of all searches are done on their mobile.
  • Tap into their childhood. Pokémon reinvented itself and the ones who have sprinted (literally) to be involved are those who lived through the start of it all in the late ’90s, early 2000s.

If only they’d designed an augmented reality game for Degrassi Junior High, I would be able to live out my dream of jamming to The Zit Remedy.

Alice Almeida is manager of innovation and insights – Hitwise


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