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Sweepstakes: How To Profit From People’s Love For Free Stuff


A sweepstake is a type of offer where a user enters a contest to win an expensive prize. The psychological basis of this is quite similar to gambling: a player doesn’t have to do anything special, make an effort or apply any specific skills to get a prize.

Since participation in a sweepstake is available to literally anyone, people are easily engaged in the process, and this is the reason why it’s so popular. In the advertising world, a sweepstake is a marketing tool that helps gather leads and promote brands through building a loyal audience.

What’s At (sweep)Stake?

In online ads, anything can be presented as a sweepstake. The most popular and converting items are of course popular gadgets and gift cards of famous brands.

There are also some regional brands that convert in particular countries where they are presented, for example, local supermarkets’ vouchers sweeps are in high demand in Brazil, Thailand, and Indonesia.

Also, there’s a bunch of users in European countries that frequently participate in sweepstakes in a desire to win clothes, cosmetics, or shoes (Adidas sneakers, for example).

How to Choose a Sweepstake Offer: The Complete Checklist

Promoting Sweepstakes: Step-By-Step

It doesn’t matter what your objective is – getting leads, giving away the newest smartphone or sending chocolate samples all over Brazil – the strategies for sweepstakes are already defined, and most of them work for a very long time. Afraid be not! The core recipes of converting sweepstakes always leave a bit of space for creativity and artistic approach in case you need one.

Plan #1

Push Notifications -> Interactive Pre-Landing Page -> Landing Page

Start your communication with the user by sending him/her a “private message” via Push Notification. Engage your audience in a simple action on the pre-lander (it can be a game, a short test, or a questionnaire).

When the user has already invested some time and emotions into the process, offer him/her to enter the contest for the desired prize. Remarkably, this plan can be used for the native format as well, just replace the first step with Native Ads stage.

Propellerads - sweepstake examples

Plan #2

Native Ads -> Pre-Landing Page (interactive or native) -> Landing Page

Attract your potential customer with a teasing ad copy combined with an appealing banner, tell him/her a story of getting an expensive gadget or any other popular item for free or almost for free.

Convince your target audience that winning is easy and accessible to anyone. After that, bring out the call to action and lead the users to the registration form.

propellerads - lidl sweepstakes

Plan #3

Onclick -> Landing Page

This is what we call classics. There are so many reasons we love onclick for, among them, there’s one that concerns sweepstakes – its interactivity. It means, it can replace a pre-landing page. Fewer steps don’t always mean less profit. Simplicity is always trendy.

Creatives for Sweepstakes

Push Notifications

Push is a “personal” advertising format, so profit from this intimacy when you choose creatives for your campaigns. Try one of these plans to motivate your users to click the notification:

Private Message Imitation

Create an illusion of getting a private message from a real person:  “Hey, check this out”, “Congratulations, we chose you!”, “OMG, IT WORKED! I just won an iPhone here…”. Imitate the system message if needed: “Message from: Elsa”, “Kate: Hi there”, etc.

Try different icons, you may use the avatar of the sender (girls-girls-girls), a message icon or a picture of the prize. The big image should correspond to your overall strategy.

For example, if you’re imitating a system message, it’s better to avoid banners. In case you’re sending a message from a specific person, you may use the big banner with people enjoying the prize. And in case you’re making an impression that the person is invited to enter the contest, feel free to use the banner with the prize.

Classic Ad Message (interactive mode)

Last but not least, the classic marketing is always ready for some sweepy action. Apply these approaches if you are not ready to go for bolder strategies for your advertising campaigns.

Create the limits with your ad copies: “Offer expires in 5 minutes!”, “Only 4 FREE iPhones left!”, “Your only chance to win Galaxy S12”. Make the user think that the time is limited, and now it’s the only moment he/she can get his bit of luck.

Be sure to add a Call To Action to your ad copy to navigate your future customer in the right direction: “Try to win now”, “Tap to open”, “Try your luck here”.

These texts may be used in creatives with or without banners, the main principle is to show the desired prize and make a person believe it’s achievable. You may also place additional ad copy in the banner, for example, write a model of a gadget so those who haven’t seen iPhone 11 Pro would understand that it’s actually it.

Pro insight: To increase the CTR, you may add up to three clickable buttons with customized texts to your push notification. Find out more from your PropellerAds manager.

Native Ads

Native widgets become an “organic” part of the website, so your creatives need to be extremely catchy to get the attention of your target audience. To do that, apply one of these approaches:


Tease users with burning headlines “Shock: How To Get An iPhone For Free”, “Easy Way Not To Pay For Your Purchases In Walmart”, “Hacked Giveaway Site Sends A Free Smartwatch To Every Second Visitor”.

Enforce your headline with a banner that makes one use his/her imagination: take images featuring the prize and draw attention to the details with a red arrow, for example. Imagine what the people could do in a store to get a 100% discount… You see?:)


The digital era took our free time away, so the content should be nicely structured in order to be read until the end. The brain wants the info cooked in bullet points with “competition flavor”, that’s why we love charts and ratings so much.

Use this for your sweepstake creatives: “5 Ways To Get A Free Walmart Gift Card”, “Top 5 Smartphones You May Get For Free In 2020”, etc. The banner should correspond to the topic of your ads.


People tend to believe the stories when they can associate themselves with their characters. Give them such stories when you plan to motivate them to take part in something. Tell a success story of someone who had a positive experience: “This Single Mom Won A $1,000 Gift Card For Free With…”, “1,250 Citizens Of Seattle Got Their Smartphones Not Paying A Cent…”, etc.

Another strategy is to tease people with a story: “Poor Student Brags A New iPhone. Look WHAT She Did To Get It”. Use pictures of people for the banners, try to avoid stock-looking personas, they look unnatural and ridiculous in the context of a life story.

Pro insight: use dynamic content to create a proximity effect. Make users believe that magic happens somewhere around the corner! Applies for both native ads and push notifications formats 😉

LPs (+Onclick)

Bringing the users to the landing page is relatively easy, capturing their attention and making them take part in the contest is hard. Our goal here is to convince them they can get the desired item, not paying a penny. To do so, landing pages for sweepstakes should comply with three major principles:

  • interactivity (the user must be involved in some kind of action and feel he/she does something to deserve the reward, makes an impact)
  • credibility (it should create a feeling of reliability and trustworthiness, for example, contain previous users’ reviews and dynamic content for the proximity effect)
  • simplicity (the rules of participation in the contest should be understood right away)

Here are some examples of how these principles may be brought to life.

propellerads - sweepstake onclick example


  • game/test/form to fill in
  • clickable elements (wheel, gift boxes, test variants)
  • fields to fill in


  • recognizable interface design, unobvious imitation of famous sites using recognizable colors and page elements placement;
  • reviews, celeb recommendations, brand logos placed on the advertised objects;
  • dynamic content (macros) in ad copies to illustrate a personal approach.


  • simple rules (one click, multiple-choice questions)
  • step-by-step structure

Check out the case studies! All sweepstake cases are here

Love The Policy

If we were allowed to do anything we want, the world would drown in chaos. It’s a relief that the policy rules in PropellerAds are clear and understandable. What’s more important, the objective of these restrictions is to bring a high-class performance to both advertisers and publishers.

An example of a forbidden landing page (Why? Because it imitates Apple website)

When you assemble the creatives for your campaigns, please note that you are not allowed to do things as follows:

  • use official logos or brand copyrighted style in the creatives or on the landing pages (use slight imitations of logos or place the real logos on the items in the pictures instead)
  • speak from the name of a famous brand: “Google company gives the tablets as a gift”, ”You have received a gift from Apple”
  • launch campaigns with the texts spelled wrong or with hidden letters in the brand names
  • use statements that a person has already won a prize (exception: gift cards and vouchers) or has the money transferred to his/her account

We really hope that this article helped you build a unique creative strategy that will bring you luck and profit. Leave your feedback in the comments and ask questions in case some points remain uncovered.

Happy Sweeps!

P.S. Don’t forget to join our Telegram chat and register for our FREE Sweepstake webinar!


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