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Local media around the country are starting to report people being injured moving down the street—most often on foot, but some drivers, too—while distracted by the game Pokémon Go. Yes, some of them might end up in an urgent care center, but the most important thing for operators to be aware of is that Niantic, the game’s maker, plans to offer local advertising opportunities soon. The location-based game for mobile devices tracks the player’s movements through a local area, complete with images of local landmarks. Players create avatars and collect various prizes along the way. While usage data are sparse, so far, Android reported that 5.9% of its users opened the app on a recent day. And where that many eyes are trained on the screen, advertisers are sure to follow. Niantic CEO John Hanke revealed that the company soon will offer local businesses the chance to “pay us to be locations within the virtual game board—the premise being that it is an inducement that drives foot traffic.” Pokémon Go is free to download; Niantic makes its money when players make in-app purchases to help them advance through the game more quickly—and in the near future, by allowing businesses to buy into the game.

Pokémon Go: Neighborhood Menace—or Urgent Care Marketing Opportunity?
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