Singles yearning for love aren’t the only ones finding success with mobile dating apps.

Music festivals, endurance sports and other properties are increasingly finding a match with online dating sites and mobile dating apps.

Spritzr this year has partnered with three properties in California: the Zappos.com Bay to Breakers footrace in San Francisco, Bottlerock music festival in Napa Valley, and the Abbot Kinney Festival in Los Angeles.

The sponsorships build on a handful of current and former deals in the category including Bumble and the Austin City Limits Music Festival, Tinder and Urban Mudder and Match.com and Major League Baseball Advanced Media.

With the category becoming increasingly saturated, dating apps are using sponsorship to engage singles with common interests.

“Whether it’s a music festival or running event, there is a common thread across the audience,” said Matt Wiener, director of business development with Wasserman Media Group, which owns and operates the Zappos.com Bay to Breakers.

Fifteen percent of American adults have used online dating sites or mobile dating apps, according to a 2015 survey by the Pew Research Center. The popularity of online/mobile dating apps has been especially pronounced for two groups who have historically not used online dating at particularly high levels—young adults and consumers in their late 50s and early 60s.

The share of 18-to-24-year-olds who report having used online dating has nearly tripled over the last two years (from 10 percent in 2013 to 27 percent in 2015), while the share of 55-to-64-year-olds who have used online dating has doubled over the same time period (from 6 percent in 2013 to 12 percent in 2015).

USE OF ONLINE DATING SITES OR MOBILE APPS BY YOUNG ADULTS HAS NEARLY TRIPLED SINCE 2013
USE OF ONLINE DATING SITES OR MOBILE APPS BY YOUNG ADULTS HAS NEARLY TRIPLED SINCE 2013
Survey conducted June 10-July 12, 2015
Source: Pew Research Center

The popularity of online dating has resulted in a growing number of niche mobile dating apps, some of which are joining their more traditional counterparts in using sponsorship.

High There!—a mobile app that connects marijuana smokers—sponsored last month’s Life is Beautiful festival in Las Vegas. The app is currently available in the 23 states were marijuana is legal in some form.

Case Study: Spritzr And Sponsorship
Spritzr—which separates itself from other dating apps by giving consumers the opportunity to play matchmaker—is using sponsorship to build a halo effect for its brand via an association with fun and exciting socially-driven events.

“Sponsorship brings closeness to the brand that you can’t get from traditional advertising,” said Manshu Agarwal, Spritzr CEO and founder.

Spritzr looks to accomplish that goal by enhancing the onsite experience. The company activated the Zappos.com Bay to Breakers by giving runners the opportunity to be matched with other participants.

“After the race, they could get a date. That added an extra layer of excitement.”

Spritzr also activated Bay to Breakers with brand ambassadors who distributed “free hug” stickers and encouraged runners to share them.

“It was a viral effect—people loved the stickers,” said Agarwal, noting that the stickers played well with the event’s iconic, anything-goes vibe.  

Looking to extend the multiyear sponsorship beyond the May event, Spritzr this summer leveraged Bay to Breakers with a content play that highlighted the best date spots on each mile of the race. The date spots included a trip around the Embarcadero via the Bay Area Bike Share program, a roller skating experience inside an historic church and a visit to an archery range in Golden Gate Park.

Spritzr and Bay to Breakers bundled the content with an Instagram promotion that encouraged singles to share their favorite date spots in San Francisco. The winner was treated to an all-expenses paid date courtesy of Spritzr.

“It deepened the bond with Bay to Breaker participants and San Francisco.”

Spritzr activated Bottlerock and the Abbot Kinney Festival with a silent disco, the Spritzr Love Lounge and matchmaking service for attendees.

The Bay to Breakers partnership began at the 2015 Las Vegas Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon. Agarwal was at the race expo as a vendor, while Wiener attended the event to scout prospects while in town for meetings with Zappos.com and Geico, the latter of which sponsors both the Rock ‘n’ Roll marathon and Bay to Breakers.

“I wanted to see what folks were doing from a best practices perspective and if there were any brands we haven’t heard of. I introduced myself, put a package together that made sense based on their goals, and it snowballed from there.”