Mobile apps are developing a taste for sponsorship.

Mobile apps spanning business, lifestyle and other categories are increasingly using sponsorship to reach new audiences and personalize their brands.

Recent deals span F1 teams, regional boat shows and pro sports teams. Ties include Shazam and the Manor Marussia F1 team; Dockwa and the Newport International Boat Show; and Tinder and the Urban Mudder obstacle course series.

While mobile app companies are often light on cash, they can provide another valuable benefit: promotional support. Properties can use that support to promote new events, drive ticket sales and enhance the fan and spectator experience.

Tinder, for example, helped launch the Urban Mudder obstacle course series via ads on the dating site platform. Users who connected with Urban Mudder were offered a discount registration to the series’ inaugural event in New York City.  

“I think there is a ton of opportunity to align with smart phone apps for marketing and cross-promotions. I don’t see a huge cash opportunity—yet—but it’s a great way to drive awareness, reach and ticket sales,” said Jon Martone, head of partnership sales with Tough Mudder, the owner of Urban Mudder.

The sponsorship gave Tinder a platform to engage consumers and personalize its brand via a dance party and other on-site activities.

“Mobile apps don’t have a lot of opportunities to physically interact with fans. Tough Mudder offers the opportunity to have an experiential activation and reach fans in a completely different way.”

Promotional support plays a key role in Shazam’s partnership with Manor Marussia. The music identification service plans to leverage the sponsorship by offering F1 fans new ways to experience the sport via the second screen.

“Shazam is one of the top-ten downloaded music apps in the world. We have a faithful following, and Formula One has the same type of passionate fan. We’re seeing an intersection of technology and sport, and Shazam is the perfect way to experience both things,” said James Pearson, Shazam vice president of global communications.

Shazam, which kicked off the tie at last month’s Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, will serve as Manor’s official music partner in the 2016 season.

Mobile apps also are increasing their involvement at smaller events. Dockwa—an app that is used to book boat mooring reservations and rentals—sponsored lanyards at the Sept. 17-20 Newport International Boat Show to amplify its exhibitor status at the event. Dockwa paid a cash fee to the event and also provided lanyards.

“The lanyards were excellent quality and created quite the buzz. As Dockwa’s audience is B2C and B2B—their presence was known,” said Gail Alofsin, director of corporate partnerships and community relations with the Newport Harbor Corp., which operates the boat show.

Dockwa will return to the event as a sponsor in 2016, she added.

The Top 15 Smartphone Apps
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