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Pokemon Go means business: why B2B needs to get its game face on

Posted: 07/19/2016 - 21:00

Pokemon Go signals the mainstream arrival of augmented reality (AR). From here on in, virtual reality (VR) will always be the poorer cousin – or bridesmaid if you will, and never the bride – in the fight for digital’s push out through the screen into reality.

This new (albeit long-pending) medium of AR will have a huge impact on local and B2C advertising. In fact you might argue it already has, adding billions to the valuation of Nintendo after just a week since Pokemon Go launched – a truly remarkable week.

So how and why will this new AR development have an impact on B2B and the enterprise?

Generally speaking, in terms of media we’re all consumers before we’re employees and so the baseline of consumer media consumption drives the baseline of business media consumption.

The growth of the web, for example, was driven by consumer use not by business. The business case came after early adopters saw the opportunity and stumbled upon early revenue. Business ultimately followed the consumer traffic and went where the money clearly was.

But the impact that had on the way businesses communicated was profound. People were still telling me in 2000 that the internet was a fad. What business doesn’t have a website now? Let alone a digital-first, mobile strategy?

So, if the medium is the message, then consumers are about to get their game on and dive into an augmented world that will only deepen. Early reports of Pokemon Go’s engagement success making it bigger than many huge digital properties clearly points to a major media shift. This was AR’s moment. We’ll never forget it, I suspect.

Ultimately this means that the new normal for consumer interaction has taken its first mainstream steps down the augmented reality road. The bar is thus rising, and being contextual out in the real world is the new competitive advantage for early-moving B2B propositions.

Mark Hillary’s fantastic recent piece elaborates on the impact to CX and reinforces the need to start preparing for a major shift.

With Microsoft’s HoloLens, Meta’s glasses and Google Glass 2.0 (to name the pack-leading three) jostling for position in the AR space (and with Magic Leap, Samsung and Sony et al hot on their heels and even rumours – unsurprisingly – surrounding Apple’s AR plans) the enterprise needs to start taking this disruption seriously and to begin the process of thinking about how gaming, and specifically AR gaming, must become an important part of its strategy.

I’m not talking about paying Pokemon Go to ensure an extremely rare Pokemon shows up deep in the bowels of IBM’s South Bank HQ. Having droves of random people swamp the building is no business driver after all. And I’m not talking about getting your agency to plan out an impressive amount of in-game advertising either. because that’s just, well, more advertising.

No, I’m talking about how B2B businesses can and must get ahead of the imminent curve by embracing gaming and this new AR channel to drive engagement and business outcomes – and they can drive engagement and business outcomes through AR. Any business whose customers move through the fourth dimension will find AR relevant.

And before you say you don’t need to worry about it. That it’s not a threat…

“Neither RedBox nor Netflix are even on the radar screen in terms of competition,” said Blockbuster CEO Jim Keyes, speaking to the Motley Fool in 2008.

We all know what happened next. And if you still need more convincing than that then I recommend looking at this study on Millennials and video adoption.

If you are ready to engage the AR disruption ahead then here are the first four questions I’d seek answers to, urgently:

  1. What types of games do your clients and prospects play? Puzzles? Golf? Platform?
  2. What knowledge pathways/thought leadership journeys are you encouraging clients & prospects to explore? And why? And to what end?
  3. What do your clients and prospects want from you? And why? And to what end?
  4. Where do your clients and prospects frequently go that non-clients would not have access to?

When, and not if, the scale of the opportunity dawns (if it hasn’t already) on your organisation, having these answers will put you in the driving seat to steer your colleagues and organisation through this disruption.

Or you can take your chances like Blockbuster, of course.

Disclosure: I write this as the ex-publisher of, and now a marketing consultant for, Outsource, and a disruptive marketing consultant for others including for – a Hollywood-based, world-leading game and engagement agency that has spent 15 years serving Disney, Mattel, Warner Brothers etc.



William Hooper's picture


I found your piece thoroughly engaging and usefully provocative. I am not a natural gamer but recognise that sector for its leadership in user interface design over many years. Any sector that has to address as a core customer requirement the ability to pick it up, use it and engage within 2 minutes without once referring to a manual has to be worthy of respect.

There are occasional inflexion points where something small happens that has radical implications. I suspect you could be right on this one. Who will learn to exploit it most effectively?


Thanks William, glad it sparked thoughts. Spot on re engagement and no industry knows how to do it better than gaming. For example I have a client in the gaming space who increased website engagement for a B2C kids brand from 30 seconds to over 13 minutes. A hugely valuable increase to the B2C brand as you can imagine.

It's hard to know who will move first, fastest and furthest but it could be across any geo, vertical etc. The vast majority of people with a mobile phone plays some game some of the time. Perhaps the big SI's that have now acquired digital agencies will make the first forays to keep/woo their clients/prospects with demonstrations of their engagement capabilities and prowess. I suspect ultimately those who care about their clients the most in real rather than just spoken terms. Where do you think it will happen?



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About The Author

Al Tepper is the Founder of Disruptive Marketing Agency, TepFu. TepFu supports senior executives in: a) fixing go-to-market problems with remarkable solutions; and b) by evolving their organisations' internal entrepreneurship to deliver remarkable disrupted solutions independently - ideally, before someone else disrupts them. TepFu consults in various spaces: SOURCING: for the leading sourcing publication, network and content/events provider. &; IOT: for leading IoT network providing content, community and events.; ENGAGEMENT/GAMING: for Hollywood-based engagement agency, F84 - they deliver for clients including Disney, Mattel and beyond.; STARTUP INCUBATOR: Al is a co-founder of an exciting London-based startup tech incubator bringing multiple tech, VR, AR & IoT projects into disruptive being. Previously Al was Publisher of Outsource and has built a marketing and digital career in various B2B publishers and even a retailer over the last two decades. Outside of work, as well as being a husband and father Al owns two labradoodles and is a qualified American football coach.