Less than a month since the app launched, Pokemon Go fervor is still high and brands including Zipcar and McDonald's are getting in on the craze. But the game doesn't rely on traditional in-app mobile advertising to make money, and that's causing some brands like Stonyfield to get creative with their messaging.
On Wednesday, the yogurt brand and mobile advertising company Aki Technologies will kick off a four-week campaign targeting 10,000 Pokestops—the virtual landmarks where players collect characters and points—in popular apps consumers often use in conjunction with Pokemon Go, like weather or messaging apps.
"We don't put a lot of dollars onto traditional advertising—we're not on TV, we don't do a lot of print advertising," said Liza Dube, director of digital marketing at Stonyfield. "The idea of tapping into this particular activity using moment marketing seems like a no-brainer idea for us. This is real-time marketing on an extremely personal level."
The idea was born a few weeks ago when Aki noticed its San Francisco office is located near several Pokestops, and the team started thinking about the game's advertising potential. While Pokemon Go is working with McDonald's to create sponsored locations, the full advertising potential of the game isn't clear, and Stonyfield's creative for the campaign came together in two days.
"We started to see what Niantic and Nintendo were doing around monetization of the game, and it seemed to be primarily focused on traditional things like power up your character by buying some Pokeballs," said Scott Swanson, co-founder of Aki Technologies. "It became clear to us that it wasn't going to become an ad-supported application, so if we were going to build something to take advantage of this momentum, then it needed to be about reaching people when they were out in the world playing Pokemon and find a brand that wanted to develop creative that would appeal to people and get their imagination going."
Working directly with Stonyfield's internal marketing team, the two companies whipped up the creative in 48 hours with copy that reads, "Time to catch a Stonyfield." Each ad links to a store-locator feature on Stonyfield's website that finds nearby retailers and stores that sell the brand's yogurt.
"The store finder is the best way to indicate the next level of purchase intent," Stonyfield's Dube said.
Here's how it works: You're near a Pokestop with the Pokemon Go app open. While at the Pokestop, you open a messenger app to text a friend or check the weather with an app before continuing to play. When you open those apps, you could be served the game-themed Stonyfield ad.
Aki's technology detects which apps people have downloaded and use the most, which helps brands fine-tune their targeting. For the Stonyfield campaign, Aki Technologies matched up location data from 10,000 Pokestops across the U.S. with data on which ad-supported apps consumers open frequently and spend the most time with. The ads are served within five minutes of visiting a Pokestop. "We don't want to wait several hours until they're at home," Swanson said.
Swanson declined to say which ad-supported apps Stonyfield is plugged into but named messenger, photo, music, weather or "any types of apps that people pull up on their phone when they're out in the world" as examples of where people could see the campaign appear.
In addition to targeting, Swanson said, Aki will collect data about when and where people play the game most that can be used to run future campaigns.
For Stonyfield, the campaign will also give the brand insight into who plays Pokemon Go and which products they're interested in. The brand is running two different products in its creative: One advertises a whole-milk Greek yogurt aimed at adults, and the other promotes the brand's on-the-go products including yogurt pouches and smoothies that are targeted toward children.
"What we'll see at the end of four weeks is the connection between people looking for a kid versus adult product," Dube said.