Dropit runs live auctions on stadium scoreboards that fans bid on from the stands

There’s no doubt that our collective mobile device addictions are hurting real-world engagement for advertisers. This is especially true in professional sports stadiums, where looking down at your phone means you’re not paying attention to announcements, advertisements, and sometimes even the live game.

One New Zealand-based startup think they have an answer to this problem. Dropit is an interactive app that hosts live 60-second auctions on a stadium’s scoreboard, that users bid on from their mobile device. Users download one app that can be used for any Dropit auction, regardless of what arena they’re currently in

Once the auction starts the price begins to drop, and the first fan to “swipe up” in real time wins that item for the price shown. The longer everyone waits the more the price drops, but the odds of someone else in the stadium stealing it from you increases exponentially.

From example, during one live test at a baseball game the startup held an auction for a Ducati motorcycle, which sold for $3,904 and is worth over $15,000.

These items are typically given away by a sponsor, who take a loss on the item but essentially consider it an advertising expense just like buying an old-fashioned billboard ad in the stadium. Sponsors also typically pay an advertising fee to the home team for each auction run, as well as Dropit for powering the tech behind the live auction.

Essentially, the goal for sponsors is to get everyone in the stadium to concentrate on one thing at once, i.e the item being auctioned off. By turning an advertisement into a fun interactive game, there’s a much better chance fans will actually pay attention and remember a sponsor’s brand and product. Sponsor can also offer every attendee an in-app post-auction offer like a coupon, so everyone walks away with something even if they lost the auction.

Dropit has held hundreds of trial auctions in New Zealand, and is just starting to expand into the U.S. They held auctions at two Seattle Mariners spring training games this year, and are about to break into the NBA with a partnership with the Phoenix Suns starting on October 23rd. They’re also working with the 49ers to get the technology ready for bigger arenas.

The startup recently raised a $3.6M USD Series A at a pre-money valuation of $21M, with most of the funding coming from New Zealand investors. They also sold an equity stake to Silicon Valley law firm Wilson Sonsini.

Check out the video above to see what a live auction looks like in person.