Pokémon Go, the augmented reality application that has swept the nation under the guise of getting today’s youth away from their computers and outside socializing with one another, is also changing how businesses learn about and target their consumers. Like most applications, Pokémon Go collects a variety of information about its users, including the user’s email address, IP address, the web page used before logging into Pokémon Go, username, and location. This information is then shared with “third-party service providers,” and “third parties” to conduct “research and analysis, demographic profiling, and other similar purposes.” However, unlike previous applications, because of Pokémon Go’s sophisticated map data, which gives block-by-block detail instead of stating the user’s general area, this could be some of the most detailed social data currently available. Third parties who receive this data will not only be able to determine user demographics, but also analyze where and when their target demographics congregate.
Even without this information, businesses are already capitalizing on the Pokémon Go success by incorporating it into their own advertising strategies. Storefronts are paying Niantic, the application’s creator, to turn their locations into places to catch, train, or battle Pokémon. This in turn creates additional foot traffic to the store which the businesses are hoping will in turn create customers.
But not everyone is happy with how Pokémon Go is being used gain information about its users. It was recently uncovered that users who log into Pokémon Go using a Google account had to agree to provide Niantic with full access to their Google account – including their emails – in order to use the account. Niantic claims this access was in error and that a patch is being created to end this access.