Dylan Matthews in Vox:
The game, which came out on July 6, encourages users to walk around and visit PokéStops where they can acquire items for the game like Poké Balls, and “gyms” where they can fight against other players. PokéStops and gyms are real locations in the real world. For instance, there’s a gym on a small traffic island by the Vox DC offices, and the Embassy of Iraq is a PokéStop and a reliable source of Poké Balls.
So campaign organizers for Clinton, like her Ohio organizing director Jennifer Friedmann, started showing up at PokéStops and gyms to register Pokémon Go players to vote…
The Cincinnati Enquirer's Mallorie Sullivan reports that Clinton's Ohio staff spent the past weekend going “from Cuyahoga to Athens to seek out players in their communities to register them to vote.”
There’s even an official Hillary event scheduled in Lakewood, Ohio, pegged to the game. “Join us as we go to the Pokestop in Madison Park and put up a lure module, get free pokemon, & battle each other while you register voters and learn more about Sec. Hillary Clinton!!!” the event description says. “Kids welcome!”
Lure modules, for context, are items in the game that attract a large number of Pokémon to a given area. You can acquire them for free, but to use them for any length of time usually requires shelling out for additional lures, meaning the Clinton campaign could be spending funds on attracting Pokémon (and players) to its events.
The ease with which Clinton’s campaign flocked to Pokémon Go is partially an indication of how perfect the app is as a campaign tool. Campaigns have invested considerable time and money into mastering social media platforms like Snapchat, Twitter, and Facebook, but the payoff is uncertain. If you send a funny tweet, that might win your campaign a good press cycle — but does it actually sway public opinion? Does it actually increase your odds of victory? The path to impact is so windy and indirect that evaluating whether your strategy is actually working is extraordinarily difficult.
That’s largely because those apps are not well-positioned to spur action outside their confines.