TECHNOLOGY

They Call it the Pokémon Go for Brands. How to Gamify Your Marketing with Augmented Reality

This augmented reality treasure hunt game makes experiential marketing accessible and affordable to your small business.

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BY Marla Tabaka - 15 Mar 2017

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

If you're attending SXSW this year, you may want to try your hand at a bit of augmented reality to compete for $50,000 in venture capital. Snatch, a virtual treasure hunt played via mobile, will show you how to snatch virtual parcels containing valuable prizes (like 50 grand in seed money), free vacations, and free meals. The catch is, you must hold on to your parcels for six hours before they are yours to claim. Your virtual treasure hunt is filled with mystery and challenge while others try to "snatch" your parcels away from you.

Dubbed the Pokmon Go for brands, Snatch certainly has more than fun and adventure in mind for their clients and "Snatchers". They plan to break down the walls between Millennials and brands by creating a positive, interactive experience for consumers who want to shop and engage on their own terms.

"Snatch is about people engaging with brands in their own environment, rather than brands being in places we'd rather they weren't, like YouTube and Facebook," says Phil Lloyd, Chief Marketing Officer at Snatch. We're knocking on the door and asking to be let in, not kicking down the door and interrupting."

The company has recently won the attention, and funding, from Unilever Ventures. While Unilever typically does not offer seed-funding to pre-series A companies, they know that augmented reality is here to stay.

"Over the past year, augmented reality has gone from a novelty to a real part of our day-to-day lives," says Jan Harley, Director, from Unilever Ventures. "Immersing people in an interactive environment where they're actively seeking out products and feeling the elation of winning something tangible, is a really exciting addition to the marketing toolkit."

Gamification offers an experiential marketing experience for consumers, and it's proving to hold their attention far longer than traditional marketing strategies. On average, Snatch users remain engaged for more than one-hour of cumulative game time and enter the app four times per day. That kind of engagement would cost more than any SMB is likely to invest in advertising through other, more traditional, channels.

"Our platform is built by design for brand integration at the heart, delivered via an addictive and engaging gamification layer," says Lloyd. The app's core audience is in the 18-30-year-old range, but it's really for anyone. My question is, can a small business afford to bring such an augmented reality experience to their customers?

"Our attention is not restricted to the Unilever's of the world; we don't delineate between large and small brands," says Lloyd. Parcels range in value from ten-dollars up to $50,000 (so far).

Snatch is working with mom and pop companies in the U.K., including a hair salon startup, providing very low customer acquisition costs, along with outstanding redemption rates. "When people select their favorite parcel, and compete to hold on to it for six hours, redemption rates will naturally be higher," says Lloyd. And, the platform really gets people talking. "When you offer things like a year's supply of avocado's," says Lloyd, "how can people not talk?"

Snatch launched just last month in the U.K., has already been downloaded more than 250,000 times, and has held tight to the number one position in Adventure apps. They plan on launching in the U.S. early in summer of 2017 and will continue to expand internationally.

It may be time to graduate beyond content marketing in a world that's saturated with content.Ready to join the ranks of top brands like Starbucks and Sephora in the world of experiential marketing? Fortunately, gamification is becoming more accessible to small businesses with each passing year.