For first time, Urban Airship and Sprint use mobile wallet passes as sweepstakes entries

The updatable pass stores the entries, as well as links, text and imagery, and becomes an ongoing mobile channel unless deleted.

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Android (left) and iOS wallet passes, back and front, for the Sprint sweepstakes.

Android (left) and iOS wallet passes, back and front, for the Sprint sweepstakes.

Mobile engagement firm Urban Airship has teamed up with Sprint to deliver what they say is the first sweepstakes that employs mobile wallet passes.

The sweepstakes is a promotional effort for the Copa América Centenario soccer series, which Sprint is helping to sponsor. The tournament, now in its centennial year and taking place June 3–26, is being held at 10 locations in the US — the first time outside South America.

There are daily sweepstakes prizes ranging from TAG Heuer Watches and Samsung electronics to Nike Soccer Gear and soccer memorabilia signed by star David Beckham. The grand prize is a VIP trip for two to the final game of the series, held at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey.

To participate, a user registers at the tournament site and, after receiving a confirmation, can download the wallet pass to the phone. No purchase is required. (You can click here on mobile to register.)

The wallet pass contains the sweepstakes entries one has accumulated, as well as images and links to Sprint’s site and social accounts for the tournament. The user earns an entry every time her chosen team among the 16 in the tournament scores a goal. (Good thing this isn’t basketball.)

When there’s a new score or Sprint wants to let the user know about another wallet pass update, a push notification — linked to the wallet pass — is sent to the user’s locked screen.

But the big score for marketers is that the wallet pass’s assets — images, text, links — can be personalized to the user and continuously updated. After the sweepstakes is over, the user can delete the pass if so desired. If not deleted, it remains as an updatable channel into the user’s phone, forever.

In other words, the wallet pass provides Sprint with a marketing pipe into the user’s phone, without requiring that an app be downloaded or maintained.

Spring reports that “thousands” of wallet passes have been downloaded so far for this sweepstakes.

“While mobile wallets can be thought of as a campaign,” Sprint’s Digital Lead, Multicultural Marketing, Luis Martinez, told me via email, their “real value is in the ability to continuously communicate with the customer on mobile with just one pass download.”

“It’s not a huge commitment from the customer to do this,” he added, “and a wallet campaign can be up and running in a matter of days.” The Sprint effort was in the field three weeks after it was conceived.

“In many ways,” Urban Airship Senior Product Marketing Manager Judy Chan told me, “it acts like a lightweight app.”

She added that mobile wallet passes allow a brand to reach the “next level of users,” beyond the “people who have your app [and] are your most loyal fans.” These users, she said, “like your brand, but are not as loyal” as the app downloaders.

“A huge part of the sweepstakes is conditioning,” Chan noted, so that the user becomes accustomed via notifications and the pull of the prizes to check the wallet pass regularly for updates.

A mobile wallet is available in most smartphones and in all devices with iOS 6 and above or Android KitKat and above. The pass, she said, has “a tiny file size.”

Urban Airship is big on mobile wallet passes and offers a platform for their management. Chan noted that the company has conducted hundreds of mobile wallet promotions over the last two years and that the wallet passes are evolving into “loyalty cards with messages.”

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.

About the author

Barry Levine
Barry Levine covers marketing technology for Third Door Media. Previously, he covered this space as a Senior Writer for VentureBeat, and he has written about these and other tech subjects for such publications as CMSWire and NewsFactor. He founded and led the web site/unit at PBS station Thirteen/WNET; worked as an online Senior Producer/writer for Viacom; created a successful interactive game, PLAY IT BY EAR: The First CD Game; founded and led an independent film showcase, CENTER SCREEN, based at Harvard and M.I.T.; and served over five years as a consultant to the M.I.T. Media Lab. You can find him at LinkedIn, and on Twitter at xBarryLevine.

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