The success of Pokemon Go has spawned dozens of copycats looking to use web mapping and augmented reality (AR) to create a similar level of buzz. However, with Unilever Ventures already a significant investor, mobile AR game Snatch looks like it has more of a chance of challenging Pokemon Go than most pretenders.
Free to download and play, Snatch is an augmented reality treasure hunt game where players use Google Maps-style technology to explore their local area to search for constantly updating branded prizes.
Once you use AR to find and catch a parcel, which could contain anything from a holiday to a code giving you a £10 discount at Just Eat, the idea is to hold onto it for six hours; only then you can redeem it. During this period, other players are able to snatch the parcel from you adding a level of competitiveness to the game. In essence, the idea is that instead of catching a Pikachu you catch an actual prize, with brands subsequently able to reach out directly to players.
The app hit 560,000 downloads while still in beta stage, with daily active users within the 40,000 to 60,000 range. And after it launches outside of beta stage next week (2 November), Snatch believes it can quickly reach 250,000 daily active users in the UK.
Snatch’s head of UK marketing Kate Taylor Tett was previously agency side, having spent the best part of 10 years at AMVBBDO. She admits her decision to leave was branded “mental” by colleagues at first. However, she’s confident Snatch has a huge future.
“In February, Snatch had just four staff but we’re now at 40 and have two different offices,” she tells Marketing Week. “The demand for the app is huge and having spent over a decade in an industry trying to force consumers to interact with brands, I know this is the polar opposite as users are signing up because they actively want to interact with brands.”
Working with brands
The app started off with smaller prizes such as personalised tubs of Marmite but it has built up to holidays, with one-off prizes even including a deposit to put down on a house. Taylor Tett says the game can also generate footfall at specific locations and is a great way for brands to make a “more local connection” with consumers.
Snatch recently worked with Just Eat to try to reduce the problem of fewer people ordering takeaways on a Monday or Tuesday night. After adding in parcels to the game’s world, which could be redeemed for a £10 voucher that could be used across the two days, Taylor Tett says Just Eat secured a 90% redemption rate.
“The next ambition is to go global. The second phase will be a rollout in the US early next year and once that happens, I think we can hit one million daily active users very quickly,” she claims. “We want to create more team games and introduce in-game chat so there’s more of a social and community element to Snatch.”
Taylor Tett believes Snatch will ultimately succeed because it gives brands an environment where users are engaged and ready for brand interactions. “If an individual brand chooses to create an AR experience, they will spend a lot of money on something that will likely collapse in a few months,” she explains, adding that Snatch will soon evolve so more relevant prizes will appear in a respective user’s world.
Stealing VR’s thunder
At the start of the year, virtual reality was widely tipped to become a mainstream technology in 2017. However, after disappointing sales for devices such as Oculus Rift and Sony’s Playstation VR, this hasn’t really happened.
According to Taylor Tett, augmented reality has simply stolen the technology’s thunder. She says VR will only take off once it gets proper native support from smartphone giants such as Samsung, Google and Apple: “AR has stolen the buzz from VR as it’s easier for someone who isn’t tech savvy to instinctively understand how to use it. The AR kit coming from Apple is only going to make AR more mainstream.”
And speaking about where Snatch will find itself in five years’ time, she confidently concludes: “Within five years, I believe Snatch will be a legit advertising channel that is competing with Facebook and Snap for ad spend. We don’t have to tag ads onto our platform like they do as we’re built around them and that’s something that is a key differentiator.”
But with even Pokemon Go, an established global franchise, now struggling to maintain early buzz and high levels of participation, you sense it will be a lot tougher for Snatch than Taylor Tett makes out.