Your event app is an engagement engine, creating all kinds of new interactions between attendees. But planners often overlook another opportunity created by their app: monetization.
Sponsors are one of the cornerstones of your event. Your attendees want to experience the services, products and information sponsors have to offer. Likewise, sponsors want to connect with as many leads as possible.
Event apps provide sponsors with in-app sponsorship opportunities to promote their companies and products. Data made available through the app helps demonstrate the ROI of that investment. By maximizing paid sponsorship options, you can add value for sponsors and attract new ones, all while creating new revenue streams for your business.
Here are 14 app sponsorship ideas to turn your app into a profit engine that pays for itself.
A splash page is a full-screen ad that appears to all attendees when they open the app. The page is immediate, so it enables sponsors to speak directly to attendees at a moment when their attention is guaranteed.
To maximize the page, it’s important to balance the execution. First, set the display time to five seconds or less — any longer and you risk frustrating your user. Also, because it’s the first thing attendees see, make sure the messaging and design fits with the rest of the app, or at least it’s not dramatically different. Include event details and a clear “sponsored by” message as well, so people don’t think they downloaded the wrong thing.
Pro Tip: There’s only one splash screen, so take advantage of the page’s impact and make it exclusive for one sponsor.
Featured App Placement
For sponsors looking for an extra level of awareness, you might consider offering prominent placement in the app itself. For instance, a sponsor can purchase space in the app navigation or space in the content grid on the app homepage. With a logo or message placed in the most utilized sections of the app, your sponsor is guaranteed high visibility.
Pro Tip: Offer one premium sponsor their own tab in the navigation and include the option of a full-page ad to appear as part of their listing.
Some sponsors are willing to increase their spend in order to stand out from the rest in a long list of sponsors. Enhanced sponsor listings enable you to capitalize on this. An “enhanced” listing is placed at the top of the sponsors’ list. With enhanced listings, you can go beyond alphabetical listings and create premium-level designations, e.g. Gold, Silver and Bronze Sponsors.
In addition to placement within the sponsor list, offer premium sponsors the opportunities to amplify their listing with richer graphics, social media links, video, and downloadable attachments. You can even include promotional options here, like special offers or coupons.
Pro Tip: Set parameters and expectations for all your sponsors before they buy in so they know exactly what they are getting within each tier. You’ll likely want to cap the top tier to a select number of sponsors to make this tier more valuable – set that number up front and include it in all your collateral.
Just like a text message, a push notification pops up on your attendees’ phone. These notifications can be sent to every attendee with the app, or segmented by specific people and groups to ensure that a sponsored message is seen only by the right audience.
The value of a push notification is its ability to cut through the noise and capture attendee attention. They’re especially effective for promoting offers or details for booth events — you can get eyes on a message even if the user isn’t currently running the app.
Pro Tip: Attendees will tune out if they receive too many push notifications especially if they are overly promotional. Ask your sponsors to consider the content of their post – are they offering a limited time opportunity at their booth, a raffle, or maybe they would be willing to offer a limited time coupon.
Banner ads — static or rotating ads that appear above the menu — are one of the most popular sponsorship options. They’re a simple, effective way to give sponsors exposure — attendees can tap on a banner and go directly to another in-app page or an external website.
Banners also give sponsors the ability to target specific audiences based on location within the app to optimize their ad spend.
Pro Tip: We typically recommend a maximum of five rotating banners, and link to an in-app page rather than directing to an external website, for a more seamless user experience.
Activity Feeds and Social Wall
Activity feeds are social channels within an app where everyone can take part in the conversation; a social wall is a large monitor that displays the activity feed and other customized info. Activity and social feeds aren’t just for attendees — vendors and sponsors can use the feeds to promote their products and services. While your app users are posting content on your feed, you can feature informational and promotional posts about your vendors and sponsors in the form of a promoted or pinned post. This helps your partners interact naturally, without being pushy or forceful. And promoted posts have high visibility. Social walls are typically placed in high traffic areas, offering great awareness of your sponsor’s messages.
Pro Tip: Considering selling sponsorship rights of the social wall to one sponsor. As part of this sponsorship, you can also include a set number of promoted posts during the event. Make sure these promoted posts are during high traffic times.
A lead retrieval system enables sponsors to capture leads and contact info with the simple scan of a badge. This gives sponsors added value in a number of ways. First, it’s a much more efficient way to network than business cards. After the scan, sponsors and exhibitors can add notes, favorite connections and integrate leads with the rest of their app data. Lead scanner apps also facilitate two-way networking; exhibitors and sponsors get their own QR code (per company), and as participants visit their booth, participants scan the company’s code to form a “sponsor connection.” Reporting then shows who connected with the sponsor and when.
Pro Tip: Within the sponsor profile area, sponsors can set up a two-question “poll” and ask the attendee if they want to receive more info. This gives sponsors the chance to capture an email address and generate a lead.
For sponsors who are rolling out a new feature — or want direct feedback on an existing feature — surveys are a great value-add. An event app gives sponsors a couple of options: a quick survey during the event (we recommend three questions max, to ensure engagement), or one or two questions in your post-event survey.
Pro Tip: We typically recommend that sponsors offer some form of incentive to a mid-event survey to ensure participation. If gamification is part of your plan, you can also (or instead) offer points for survey completion.
Beacons use low-energy (BLE) wireless technology to provide location-based services. They come in two forms, mobile and stationary, and each brings unique value for sponsors.
With mobile beacons, exhibitors and vendors can gather leads without ever scanning an attendee’s badge. For example, if an attendee visits a crowded booth but they don’t get a chance to connect one-on-one with the sponsor, that sponsor can receive a report that shows dwell time and contact details. So even if a direct connection isn’t possible in the moment, sponsors still have a lead to follow up with.
Stationary beacons, small devices placed at locations around the venue, offer their own opportunities. For example: a conference center's in-house restaurant or coffee shop may use a beacon (as one of your event sponsors) to provide exclusive deals or reminders to everyone who walks by. Location-based marketing enables very personalized, targeted and effective marketing for your sponsors — and a powerful selling point for you.
Pro Tip: Beacons can help you analyze foot-traffic patterns at your event. You can use this information to identify areas of your venue that are more exposed than others, and more likely to receive additional traffic. This information can help you to price booths based on real traffic patterns and ensure your sponsors are getting the best ROI.
Sponsored Map Pins
Maps are often a highly visited section of the app, why not use that page to help give sponsors extra awareness (as well as foot traffic) with sponsored map pins? The pin displays as the sponsor’s logo on the map with a link to a landing page in the app and allows the sponsor to stand out against more generic icons.
If you are using an interactive map in your app, this presents even more value-add for your sponsor as attendees can be guided directly to their booth.
Pro Tip: Make sure your sponsor logo is in a noticeable location on the map but one that won’t interfere with any map functionality.
Gamification is hugely popular with attendees — events are more fun when you can complete tasks and earn points and rewards. But how can it add value for sponsors?
In addition to simply sponsoring the gamification effort (for example, a sponsor logo might appear in the leaderboard and additional screens), sponsors can be incorporated into the game itself. Vendors and sponsors can arrange QR codes at their booths that attendees can scan and earn points. Sponsors can up the engagement with additional incentives. Guests can earn more points when they correctly answer quiz questions related to the information the vendor provides, or by downloading a vendor’s asset, product or content.
A Sponsor Showcase — a unique game with a sizable reward, only open for sponsors — is another option. Here’s how it works: when sponsors opt-in to the Showcase Game, attendees stop by and scan in at participating booths. Everyone who visits all participating sponsor booths are eligible for a drawing. We usually recommend developing special Sponsor Showcase signage (with details) to display at participating booths. It’s a fun way to get attendees to a booth and involved in conversations, and it ultimately generates valuable leads for your sponsor.
Pro Tip: If you notice a lull in sponsor booth visits, do a special promotion for a limited time which offers an increased amount of points for visiting a sponsor booth, something like “For the next 2 hours, scan in at a sponsor booth and receive triple the points!”
Audience Response System (Polling/Quizzes/Questions)
An audience response system creates live interactions with the app, typically in the form of polls, quizzes, and live questions. Sponsors can use the technology to push content directly to attendees in interesting and engaging ways. For instance, they might sponsor the daily trivia question — a quiz with a link to the sponsor’s section of the app. If you offer your sponsor a speaking opportunity, you can also offer live polling. With live polls, sponsors can gather useful feedback and insights directly from the audience.
Poll results always grab attendees’ attention as they are anxiously waiting to see how their response compared to others or if they answered a question correctly. Featuring a sponsor logo or ad below the results of live polling on screen are a sure way for your sponsor to stand out.
Pro Tip: Incentivize attendees to complete polls, quizzes, and questions by offering points for completion as part of a gamification feature.
Pay-per-tap ads enable your sponsor to display their ads, but rather than paying a fixed price for an advertising unit, they pay a fee each time their ad is tapped. Here’s how it works: the sponsor sets up their campaign through a bidding system, where they select the maximum price (bid) they are willing to pay for each tap. Then, sponsors set a campaign budget, which can be increased or decreased at any time. When the budget is met, the ads stop appearing. Sponsors can monitor their campaigns, and control and adjust the daily budget and bid budget.
For budget- and ROI-minded sponsors, pay-per-tap ads are a huge benefit. They operate on the attractive performance marketing model; ad spend is not based solely on exposure of the ad but on attendee interaction and intent. Sponsors only pay for interactions with attendees they know are interested in learning about their product. Plus, results are in real-time, offering the ability to control their spend at all times (through bid and budget setting), and adjust accordingly. Plus, even during times when the ad doesn’t get clicks, the sponsor still receives impressions and exposure.
Pay-per-tap has benefits for you, the planner, as well. With measurable ROI, you can attract more advertisers, and you have the ability to collect more data about attendees.
Note: Pay-per-tap revenues are unpredictable because you never know how many people will decide to click on the ad. But your sponsor is protected from risk, as they only pay based on clicks, and they set their own budgets.
Pro Tip: For best results, these ads work best for events with around 5,000 attendees and 100 sponsors/exhibitors.
When selling sponsorships, the first step is to understand your options. But the second step is just as important, packaging and promoting the ways your sponsors can get in front of your audience. This is where advertising bundles come in, and here, as the planner, you have options.
The first is an app-exclusive sponsorship, where everything above is offered to one sponsor, priced aggressively, with other options available a la carte to the other sponsors. Your one app-exclusive sponsor should be the only one with the following features (ie, these features should not be offered a-la-carte but reserved exclusively for just one sponsor): Splash Page, ARS, Surveys, Promoted Posts in Activity Feed, Featured App Placement.
Another arrangement is tiered sponsorships. Here, we recommend a simple, easy-to-understand system, with Gold, Silver and Bronze levels, priced accordingly:
- keyboard_arrow_right Gold: Includes everything: Splash Page, Featured App Placement, Gamification, ARS, Surveys, Activity Feed Promoted Posts, Social Wall Sponsorship, Banner Ads, Lead Retrieval, Beacon Technology, Push Notifications, Sponsored Map Pins, Enhanced Listing
- keyboard_arrow_right Silver: Gamification, Social Wall Sponsorship, Banner Ads, Lead Retrieval, Beacon Technology, Push Notifications, Sponsored Map Pins, Enhanced Listing
- keyboard_arrow_right Bronze: Lead Retrieval, Push Notifications, Sponsored Map Pins, Enhanced Listing
You can always keep a la carte options on the table for any sponsor, and pay-per-tap advertising is not included in the above tiers since that’s a performance option that anyone can opt into.
Your event app puts you in a strong position with your sponsors — you’re offering a chance to interact with potential customers in highly targeted, personal ways. When selling your ads, remember that your app provides a trove of valuable, exclusive data. Dwell time, a metric made possible by beacon technology, is a good example of valuable data they can’t get anywhere else. Sponsors can also be given a sponsor content portal, allowing them to customize their brand presence within the app and eliminating the need for meeting planners to customize content for each sponsor.
When done right, app sponsorships are a win-win-win for you, your sponsors and attendees. Sponsors get more leads, you get more revenue and attendees learn about useful services. A good event app provider should be able to offer all of these features, and help you maximize your sponsorships along the way.