Athlete Endorsements
In the NIL Era

Not all endorsements are created equal.  In the NIL era, organic opportunities pave the way to endorsement value. 

The evolving endorsement economy

The traditional endorsement model has evolved. What was once exclusive to only superstars has been democratized – paid endorsements are now a reality for every athlete who can commit to building influence with an audience.

Not all endorsements have dollar signs

While the social media athlete endorsement model allows for more athletes to earn income outside the lines, it brings even more emphasis to another form of endorsement that has become a staple in sports: unpaid or organic.

For college and amateur athletes, building endorsement value doesn’t start the moment they exhaust their eligibility. Not anymore.

Their influence now begins its growth before even setting foot on a college campus. Today, athletes have the opportunity to build their personal brands by leveraging traditional and social media channels to connect with fans and establish valuable audiences.

Among the most effective ways to reach and build these digital fan bases: unpaid endorsements.

You see, every time an athlete mentions a college program in a positive light is an endorsement for that institution. It shows the athlete’s interest or commitment to that college and to its fans. While the endorsement helps the school or team, the impact for the athlete is tenfold.

Each endorsement exposes and ingratiates them to more of that existing, content-hungry fan-base. 

More unpaid endorsements lead to more followers and engagement. More followers and engagement build stronger personal brands. Stronger personal brands add value to an endorsement.

The program is promoted. The athlete maximizes endorsement value. Everybody wins.

High school athletes can begin building their sphere of influence before graduation.

See how coaches and administrators can empower student-athletes with the right technology and tools to set them up for lasting success.

NIL will only enhance this double-sided endorsement ecosystem.

In just months, student-athletes won’t have to wait to monetize their name, image, and likeness rights. They understand the value of their brand. Schools recognize that. These institutions know their future success hinges on the help they provide student-athletes with NIL.

Schools will provide more content and personal brand development resources. Athletes will offer more unpaid endorsements.

Both will win in the NIL Era.

Social media is will lead the NIL Era 

We’ve talked almost exclusively about social media as it is related to endorsement value at this point. But endorsements occur in many ways – appearances, consumer products, traditional advertising media, etc… These are all on the table for professional athletes, and soon will be for those at the college level.

So, why social? Because social media makes athletes and their endorsement value measurable and accessible.

Opendorse has facilitated and published athlete social media endorsement transactions for a decade. That data and experience allows for accurate endorsement valuations and analysis. By measuring thousands of transactions with factors including an athlete’s sport, status, current follower count, average engagement rate per post, impressions per post; we remove the guesswork to provide an estimate of the dollar amount an athlete could command from sponsors in exchange for publishing one branded content post on their own social media channels.

This cost per post can be translated to other activations beyond social media. Additionally, social media allows brands and advertisers to understand post value, establish benchmarks to understand how athletes rank against their peers, and analyze follower demographics including age and location.

All told, social media makes endorsement marketing smarter and more measurable than ever before. 

In our DNA

Athlete endorsements are in our DNA. This marketplace is the reason we exist in the first place. Opendorse was built in 2012 with a simple idea in mind – to open the doors to endorsements for more athletes and their partners. It’s right there… Opendorse.

Early on, Opendorse’s core function was to provide technology to thousands of athletes and brands to facilitate social media endorsement campaigns. And we haven’t stopped. But in those early days of Opendorse, we would often think… “what if student-athletes were allowed to monetize their NIL rights?”

It could feel like a pipe dream at times. The idea of unleashing hundreds of thousands of collegiate athletes into an endorsement marketplace… one that we were already building… was an incredibly powerful vision.

Rather than wait, we went to work. We continued to maximize and monetize endorsement value for thousands of the top athletes in professional sports. But simultaneously, we began building the unpaid side of the endorsement ecosystem alongside hundreds of the top college athletics programs in the country.

College athletes wanted content and their programs wanted promotion. We spent those 8 years from 2012 getting ready.

  • We partnered with the leading player unions at the professional level (NFLPA, NBPA, MLBPA) to manage athlete endorsement campaigns with sponsors and licensees from post to payment.
  • We joined the most innovative leagues and teams in North American professional sports including the NHL and PGA TOUR to enhance player brand-building programs with technology solutions.
  • We provided the platform to 100+ college athletics programs and over 10,000 student-athletes to maximize the value of the athletes’ brands. We built a foundation by preparing them for future paid endorsement success while facilitating unpaid endorsements for their school and program.

Today 30,000 athletes use Opendorse to maximize the value of their personal brands. We sit at the center of the athlete endorsement ecosystem, facilitating action on behalf of athletes and their partner organizations from teams and leagues, to sponsors and advertisers.

We’ve been here for a decade — and now we’re ready.

Enter a world where social media is the playbook for sports.

See how the SM Sports industry uses athletes and social media to drive revenue outcomes.

Influencer Marketing

Today, influencers are filling our feeds with quality content, shaping opinions and decisions, and you closer to communities or products. Marketers have embraced this power. So where do athletes fit?

Sports Marketing

In-stadium, at a sports bar, or in your Twitter feed – sports provide a communal experience. In this resource, we’ll explore the connection between brands, marketers, athletes, and their mission to reach and impact fans.

Social Media Marketing

For sports marketers, social media is critical to their omni-channel approach. With a more personal approach, social has become a key, effective method to reach and engage fans and audiences.

Help athletes create value that lasts.

Athletes have their audience’s attention — but they lack content. Learn how you can turn remnant content assets into growth-driving opportunities with help from your athletes.