Today, we publicly announced our partnership with NFL Players Inc., the for-profit subsidiary of the NFL Players Association. Together, we’ve launched Activate, professional sports’ first online micro endorsement marketplace. Our team is incredibly excited to partner with the biggest association in professional sports, validating the years of hard work that has gone into making opendorse a premium solution for the athlete endorsement industry.
I wanted to take the time to share how this partnership creates tremendous opportunity for opendorse team members, partners, and users. Creating a solution that disrupts an industry is no easy task, but our incredible team has been up for the challenge since we started down this path in late 2012. We’ve worked diligently to ensure that no stone is left un-turned, and we’re creating something of value for the three distinct users we serve: athletes, agents, and brands. We feel we’ve developed a solution that benefits all users equally, and re-defines the role of software in sports marketing.
To simplify the announcement, I’ll briefly describe the benefits of the Activate platform for our stakeholders:
1. How does Activate benefit the NFL Players Association and NFL Players Inc.?
The NFL Players Inc. team is responsible for aligning brand partners (NFL Sponsors, NFLPI licensees) with NFL Players. A well-aligned endorsement can produce incredible value for the brand and player, but can take weeks or months to negotiate. The growth of social media requires associations to move faster, allowing brands to capitalize on the digital influence of athletes in real-time.
“The nature of athlete endorsements has evolved significantly over the years, and the Activate platform enables us to immediately and effectively deliver endorsement opportunities to brands seeking to capitalize on a player’s social media reach and influence,” said Keith Gordon, President of NFL Players Inc. “The innovative technology that opendorse created allows the platform to accurately adjust to changing market conditions – increasing or decreasing value based on quantifiable results.”
Analyzing the marketing value of an athlete’s digital presence and displaying this information to interested brands allows the NFL Players Inc. team to serve more brands, faster. The Activate platform provides the NFLPI a powerful solution in the ever-changing world of digital sports marketing.
2. How does Activate benefit brands and sports marketers?
With the growth of social media, more athletes have more marketing power than ever before. In fact, 11,834 professional athletes leverage Twitter to influence more than 650 million sports fans every day. The athlete-fan relationship is incredibly valuable to marketers, as sports fans are 55% more likely to purchase a product if an athlete mentions it on social media.
Sorting through thousands of potential endorsers to discover the perfect athlete requires considerable amount of time and energy from marketers, making the task near impossible to accomplish in a short amount of time. Until opendorse, no easy way existed to discover, access, and activate the best endorser for a brand.
We’ve provided efficiency to the discovery process, allowing brands to partner and activate athletes, delivering measurement of the effectiveness of the endorsement in real-time. Activate allows brands to leverage the powerful athlete-fan relationship to create real marketing results, at scale.
3. How does Activate benefit agencies, agents, and marketing reps?
According to NFL Players Inc. President Keith Gordon, “Over the past 3 years, every deal reviewed by NFL Players Inc. includes a social media component.”
As more brands look to include social media activation in their endorsement campaigns, agents and marketing reps must have a clear understanding of the marketing value of their clients’ digital influence. While the top-line numbers (number of followers, tweets/day, Klout score) give some insight into the value of an athlete’s presence, marketers are looking for much more.
With Activate, agents and marketing reps have a tool to present in-depth information to brands seeking endorsements from their clients. Due to the smaller dollar figures associated with social media endorsements, agents and reps look to provide a higher quantity of opportunities to their clients. Regardless of size, each endorsement deal requires the agent to review the brand alignment, negotiate the terms of the agreement, and ensure their client is fulfilling their duties to the brand. This process is time-consuming and often times inefficient.
To alleviate the stress on agents, opendorse reviews all new brand users on Activate, ensuring the brand has a reputable background in sports marketing, and good intentions for partnering with athlete users. Furthermore, agents and reps can breathe easy once they’ve received a deal through opendorse, knowing there is a micro-endorsement agreement in place, and payment processing is handled automatically.
4. How does Activate benefit NFL Players?
In the past, endorsement deals were reserved for the top 3-5 athletes on each NFL team’s roster. Marketers focused on the value of an athlete’s image and media exposure as a way to qualify an athlete endorser. Now, through social media, every NFL player has the ability to develop a following of loyal fans, making each player on the roster a potential endorser.
Activate helps clearly display the marketing power of all NFL players, from the starting quarterback, to back-up punter. At opendorse, we believe every athlete has the ability to drive measurable marketing results for well-aligned businesses. Now, every NFL player has the ability to capitalize on their digital influence and work with the brands they love and support.
5. How does Activate benefit opendorse?
At opendorse, we believe understanding and activating digital influence is the future of sports marketing. We are excited to partner with an association that shares the same belief. Working with 2,000 of the world’s most influential athletes provides our team the opportunity to clearly display the power of social media in the athlete endorsement industry. Every data point we analyze, and every deal we process improves the intelligence of our software. Sharing this intelligence with marketers, agents, and athletes helps improve the outcomes of athlete endorsements, thrusting this niche marketing tactic into the mainstream for brands around the world.
Furthermore, working alongside the leaders of the NFL Players Inc. team allows us to learn from the best in the business, and create a solution that extends beyond the NFL player market. We’re in talks with a dozen additional associations, and look forward to bringing efficiency to associations of all shapes and sizes. The Activate platform is the first platform of its kind, but it certainly won’t be the last.
Thank you to all who made this partnership possible. We’re excited to open the doors (pun intended) to the world of athlete endorsements. Onward and upward.
-Blake Lawrence (CEO, Co-Founder)
PS – Check out the buzz surrounding the Activate announcement: