Programmatic Lunch

Seek Launches AR Treasure Hunts to Lead Users Straight into Stores

Tyrone Stewart

Seek MapSeek, an AR, location-based treasure hunting app where you can ‘win actual things instead of goofy digital beings’, is attempting to snatch Pokémon Go's crown in the US.

In the app, players use AR to search for virtual treasure chests that have been placed around the country. By capturing these chests, they could be rewarded with ‘$1,000 here, a big screen television there, a GoalZero kit everywhere.’ Seek says it is also forming partnerships with multiple businesses for marketing campaigns.

Seek’s CEO and founder John Cheney said: "We give businesses the ability to drop a treasure chest right outside their store, put whatever they want inside it, and attract customers to come open it, vying at a chance to win something."

The app also collects gender, age, and interest data on its users, which it can share – on an anonymised basis – with brand partners. "We can say to a business, you had 185 people come and open your chest today, here's who they are," said Cheney. "Not specifically because we value the privacy of our users, but we can share demographics. You had this many males and females, here's your age distribution, here's what they were interested in."

The app has been beta-tested with 1,000 users, and its creators have every intention of using Pokémon Go’s popularity as a base for the app’s potential success. They're not quiet about this, arguing ‘you can only catch Pikachu so many times before that loses its luster’ but ‘capturing treasure chests that contain rewards’ is more attractive in the long-term.

"There is no inherent value gained from playing Pokémon Go. You catch digital creatures and then you're done,” said Cheney. “We're basically going to get rid of the Pokémon, bring in treasure chests, and add rewards. You go out and capture treasure chests, when you open it up you have a randomized chance of winning something."