Blog
October 27, 2020
7-Eleven Mexico Partnership Highlights: Transactional uplift and Copa Aventura

Niantic

The Pokémon GO Sponsored Locations program can transform select partner stores into Pokéstops or Gyms. On July 11, 2020, our Sponsored Locations partner 7-Eleven Mexico held an invitational Pokémon GO remote tournament called the Copa Aventura Invitacional as part of the celebrations for 7-Eleven Day (7/11). This one-of-a-kind event was planned and operated by 7-Eleven with the cooperation of Niantic. Featuring top players and influencers from five different countries, it was livestreamed on Twitch with groundbreaking results:

  • Largest Pokémon GO tournament livestream ever: Over 237,000 viewers tuned in throughout the livestream, which featured over five hours of Trainer Battle–focused content, with over 20,000 peak concurrent viewers and over 10,000 average concurrent viewers.
  • Value and purchase driver for the partner: Two lucky players who registered an eligible purchase in the 7-Eleven app were randomly selected to join the list of invited players. The event also created a significant presence on Twitch for the brand, whose account leapt from zero to about 7,900 followers in a single day.
  • Performance boost in Latin America: New Pokémon GO account creation reached a peak year-to-date high in Mexico, and engagement across social media was extremely high.

When we announced our alliance with 7-Eleven Mexico on January 29, we knew we were going to have an amazing adventure. With this Pokémon GO sponsorship, the first of its kind in Latin America, we had no doubt that Trainers in Mexico would be as excited as we were for all the surprises this partnership would bring to 7-Eleven stores. But even we were astounded by the overwhelmingly positive response and the way players embraced this partnership—welcoming 7-Eleven Mexico not just as a sponsor of their game, but as a part of their community.

So far, the partnership with 7-Eleven Mexico has delivered amazing results through initiatives that bring value to the company, to our games, and to our players in Mexico. On February 27, as part of the celebrations for Pokémon Day, 7-Eleven Mexico executed an incredible store take-over in its flagship location in Monterrey. This particular collaboration featured a scheduled Legendary Raid, Pokémon GO–themed decorations, a Trainer Battle tournament, and an influencer meet-and-greet, with over 2,000 players in attendance. During this event, the store saw a transaction uplift of over 52%.

Since then, 7-Eleven Mexico and Niantic have continued to collaborate, keeping the momentum going with other Pokémon GO campaigns, like scheduled Raid Weeks, giveaways on social media, GO Snapshot contests, and Trainer Battle tournaments, like the Copa Aventura Invitacional. 7-Eleven Mexico’s particular enthusiasm and investment in customer-centric experiences and our mutual interest in the growth of Pokémon GO in the region have paved the way for 7-Eleven Mexico to develop exclusive campaigns outside of the usual scope of the Sponsored Locations partnership. As a result, hundreds of thousands of fans all over Mexico have enjoyed the benefits of this unique alliance.

Through this partnership, 7-Eleven Mexico has focused on creating new experiences catered to Pokémon GO fans, reaching new communities by taking into account their interests, passions, and hobbies. By bringing people together through amazing experiences and adventures, our partnership is building a community of passionate, diverse, and engaged Trainers, where everyone is welcome.

Besides community building, this partnership has also proven the incredible potential of our Sponsored Locations program to generate foot traffic and drive incremental sales, especially during in-game events.

7-Eleven announced that during the first quarter of this year, the addition of PokéStops and Gyms provided about a 3.9% revenue uplift in its top 30 stores in Mexico, compared to the same period in 2019. In these locations, the transaction uplift was especially high during events such as Community Day (40.1%), Lickitung Raid Day (39.2%), and the first 7-Eleven scheduled Raid Week (32–38%). Whenever there was an in-game event, the average daily unique visit uplift was about 30.7% and the average transaction uplift about 3.6%. This means that on average, every 4.3 player visits to a PokéStop drove one incremental purchase during these periods of high player engagement.

Players in Mexico can look forward to even more exciting events in the future, like the Pokémon GO Special Weekend event we developed and announced recently with 7-Eleven Mexico, which will be the first event of its kind in Latin America. This event will be an exclusive in-game event that Trainers can access using an event ticket that can be obtained only from 7-Eleven Mexico. This event is one of the best cases of an online-to-offline (O2O) experience. Special Weekend events have seen great success since they debuted in the Asia-Pacific region in 2018, so we’re excited to bring one to Latin America in partnership with 7-Eleven Mexico.

Latin America is now the fastest-growing market for Pokémon GO in the world, and through our partnership, 7-Eleven Mexico is changing its communications and marketing strategies in the region. We look forward to continuing our work with 7-Eleven Mexico and building similar success stories with more partners. By focusing on both fans and clients, our game experiences bring value to players and businesses around the world.

–Alan Mandujano, Strategic Partnerships Team

October 12, 2020
Welcome Brian Benedik, VP of Global Revenue, and Erin Schaefer, VP of Operations

Niantic

Today, we’re welcoming Brian Benedik as our VP of Global Revenue, leading our new sales organization. Joining us with over 25 years of experience leading sales teams, he will be responsible for increasing the footprint of our location-based advertising with marketers globally. Prior to joining Niantic, Brian served as the Global Chief Revenue Officer at Spotify, where he built and led their Global Sales, Operations, and Freemium Conversion Subscription teams. Prior to joining Spotify, Brian was the Founder & Managing Partner of Katz Digital, a digital sales arm of Katz Media covering online audio and video, mobile, and email marketing products.

I’m also excited to share that Erin Schaefer will join us as our new VP of Operations, starting October 29. Erin will oversee our customer support, data operations, advertising operations, and trust and safety efforts, championing the voice of our players and advertisers while also improving operational efficiency to enable innovations in mapping and augmented reality. Erin joins us from Google, where she spent over 14 years driving growth across operations, partnerships, sales, and finance by scaling teams, strategy, and processes. As Managing Director for Global Operations at YouTube, Erin led the development and enforcement of YouTube’s community guidelines and managed customer service experiences for the platform’s vast user, creator, and subscriber bases.

I’m thrilled to welcome Brian and Erin to Niantic. Their energy and enthusiasm for the mission of Niantic, combined with their tremendous experience and leadership in their respective fields, will help guide and accelerate our next phase of growth—so that we’re in an even stronger position to both meet our ambitious goals across AR and real-world gaming, and continue serving our growing global community of creators and players.

–Megan Quinn, Chief Operating Officer

October 8, 2020
Niantic Research Presents Three Papers on Improving 3D Mapping at ECCV 2020

At Niantic Research, our goal is to enable new ways for people to explore, understand and interact with each other in a shared augmented world. For that to happen, we have to solve complex problems in the areas of computer vision and machine learning.

At the 2020 European Conference on Computer Vision (ECCV 2020), the top international conference in computer vision, our research team presented three new papers and a technical report each of which addresses questions about where a player is in the world, what is the 3D scene layout in front of them, and how it all fits in to the larger 3D map of the digital-yet-real world around them.

AR experiences get richer through an accurate and up-to-date 3D map of the world. Building and maintaining a real-time, dynamic 3D map is an industry challenge requiring advancements in computer vision, spatial computing, AI, engineering, and mobile mapping. These improved AR experiences and 3D maps of the entire world help create more ways for people to engage with the world, through play and learning, by interacting more deeply with the visual environment around them. These are the drivers of Niantic’s long term vision for the Niantic Real World Platform.

Each project is different, with three of these driven in large part by brilliant PhD students who took part in our annual Niantic R&D internship program. See the video-summaries and check out code and other details in the links below.

Natural and believable AR experiences are key to Niantic’s vision for their own games as well as the overall platform and the AR industry at large. For more information, please visit https://research.nianticlabs.com/.

For a deeper view of our research, please read the full text of the papers presented at ECCV 2020 here:

Learning stereo from single images - Our work at ECCV 'Learning Stereo from Single Images', is a new way to create data to train stereo matching networks. Typically, deep stereo networks are trained on synthetically rendered images, generated from 3D graphics pipelines. These training images are not photo-realistic, but have perfect ground truth depths. In our work we take an alternative approach, which surprisingly we find significantly outperforms 3D-rendered data.

Single Image Depth Prediction Makes Feature Matching Easier - To build 3D maps of the real world, relative camera poses between pairs of images need to be estimated. In this work we use monocular depth estimation networks to predict depth for each image, which allows us to detect planar surfaces that can be rectified and extract view-invariant local features for better feature matching. Rectification of features even allows us to match images that are observing a scene from opposing views – common scenario in multiplayer AR.

Predicting Visual Overlap of Images Through Interpretable Non-Metric Box Embeddings - Finding images that are observing the same part of the scene is an important procedure in mapping and visual localization. In this paper, we propose a novel model to measure to what extent two images are picturing the same scene, i.e. visual overlap, without resorting to expensive operations across multiple scales. We show that a visual overlap between a pair of images allows us to interpret a relative relation between two cameras. However, visual overlap is not symmetric, so it cannot be modeled with traditional approaches like vector embeddings. Our solution is to represent images as high-dimension boxes, which allow modeling of non-symmetric measures between images.

Image Stylization for Robust Features - In this technical report, we train local features (detectors and descriptors) that are robust to appearance changes, by strongly augmenting the training data using image stylization. Typically, deep local features are trained with color augmentation, but we show that using image stylization with different styles and style examples improves the performance significantly. Models trained with the proposed approach achieved second place in two localization competitions at ECCV.

–The Niantic Research team