Inmar Intelligence Survey Uncovers New Data on Effectiveness of Student-Athletes as Brand Ambassadors and Navigating NIL Complexities

Inmar Intelligence | December 7, 2021

Inmar Intelligence, an applied data platform company, today released its latest survey that aimed to determine retailer and brand sentiment toward using student-athletes in influencer campaigns, their impact compared to traditional social media influencers, and the perceived risks due to NIL (name, image and likeness) rules and regulations. 

For years, student-athletes were not allowed the opportunity to capitalize on their image to promote businesses in exchange for money, free products, or any other revenue-generating activities. However, in July 2021, new legislation made it official that student-athletes are now allowed to monetize their NIL through endorsements from brands and can work with professional firms that facilitate these types of deals for athletes. 

With this legislation change came an uptick in demand and interest from brands and retailers to partner with student-athletes for influencer and marketing campaigns. As advertisers explore these new opportunities, they are simultaneously uncovering the difficulty of navigating compliance and examining the various state- and school-level regulations surrounding athletes’ ability to monetize their NIL. In a new whitepaper, College Athletes as Influencers: Navigating Compliance and Disparate Regulations, Inmar Intelligence breaks down the complexities of both university compliance and the NIL provider ecosystem.

According to the latest survey from Inmar Intelligence, a whopping 87 percent of respondents said student-athletes are capable of producing effective content as influencers; however, 63 percent say they don’t know enough about NIL regulations to feel comfortable utilizing this tactic. 

Some of the other key insights include: 

  • Assessing risk. 67 percent of respondents agree that when it comes to brand safety or campaign outcomes, using student-athletes as brand influencers is riskier than traditional social media influencers. 
  • More guidance is needed. 58 percent of those surveyed agree NIL rules and regulations are too complicated to navigate.
  • Student-athletes outperform traditional influencers. 61 percent of those surveyed believe student-athletes perform better at driving awareness for a business compared to traditional social media influencers. A majority (54 percent) of respondents said student-athletes perform better at driving traffic (to website, app, store, etc.) over traditional social media influencers. And 54 percent agree student-athletes would perform better at driving sales and lead generation for a business over traditional social media influencers. 

Spencer Baird, EVP and President of Martech at Inmar Intelligence commented, “We’re in a new era for college athletes, universities and advertisers. The opportunities now available are exciting for all of the above, but we’re also acutely aware of the challenges brands and retailers face that could potentially hold them back. With risk top of mind for many, Inmar is committed to ensuring the safety of all parties involved - from the advertisers and the athletes to the participating schools - so that the rewards, as captured in our survey, can be enjoyed by all through a positive partnership.” 

Inmar Intelligence has been a leader in influencer marketing for over a decade, through its acquisition of Collective Bias and continued effort to integrate data science principles into Influencer activations. Today Inmar Intelligence provides opportunities for its brand and retail partners to access, activate, manage and measure student-athlete collaborations at scale, and is working closely with its advertisers to capitalize on the astronomical engagement levels of this new talent pool. 

For information about navigating NIL regulations, please visit our Student-Athlete Influencer page. 

To download the white paper, “College Athletes as Influencers: Navigating Compliance and Disparate Regulations,” please visit our recent post