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Pokemon Go, Starbucks, and the Promise of Augmented Reality

I recently read a great Q&A style article by Adweek ‘s Chris Heine, who sat down with John Hanke, the CEO of Niantic Labs. The popular gaming company gave the world its first mass-scale glimpse at the promise of augmented reality. This excerpt really hits home for me:

Do you see Pokemon Go as a tipping point for mobile AR?

I think you would look at it as the birth. You’ll [now] see games that play with the concept of AR and location and mobile in new ways.

I couldn’t agree more.

Niantic just rolled out V2 of their hit game Pokemon Go. In conjunction with the launch, Niantic activated a powerful brand integration with Starbucks:

How did the recent U.S. deal with Starbucks come together?

They went above and beyond by incorporating the Starbucks locations into the game and providing an incentive for people to visit the stores to collect Pokemon [digital] items. They built a beverage around Pokemon, which is promoted in the game. And you see the Pokemon Frappuccino whenever you visit Starbucks, and then you can order it from the barista. It’s a really innovative thing to merge the real and the virtual reward for visiting the physical store. I think that’s opened a lot of people’s eyes to start imagining other cool things that you can do by bringing those things together.

Fantastic. This brand integration with Starbucks shows the true possibilities of leveraging micro retail space for clever AR brand activations. Forward thinking brands like Starbucks can give incentives for people to visit the store, such as exclusive rewards like the Pokemon Frappuccino.

This merging of the real and the virtual world is wildly innovative, and is a big part of the future of interactive advertising.

This article originally appeared on LinkedIn.