The new era of prospecting in sponsorship comes in your social feeds

One vital thing to understand is brands are still spending dollars in this pandemic. Despite what we may hear from them about budgets being tight or locked, a massive amount of money is being spent on digital ads.

So how can you know who is spending and what they care about?

It may sound simplistic, but today we can actually find out everything we need to know from our social media feeds (and a few tools I will point out).

The beautiful thing about social media ads is we can see what our sponsor’s goals are…but more importantly we can see how they wish to convey them AND where they spend their dollars.

In this article, I will dive into how you can successfully prospect for sponsorship dollars on social media platforms to find out who is still spending

Brands tell us their goals by what they spend on

Rich Franklin, my partner in crime on The Inches Podcast, has a great saying on this. He asks “Why do robbers always rob a bank? Because that’s where the money is.”

A lot in this pandemic I constantly heard “We are targeting industries who are doing well during the pandemic, like cleaning supplies companies, as they will actually have budgets.”

This though is a flawed way to go about it. There are two issues with this.

  1. This is making an assumption about brands and how they spend their dollars. It isn’t backed by data or proof. We as an industry are making a pretty horrible generalization about how brands will spend their dollars. If we do this, we will lose out on a large amount of revenue.
  2. Everyone has this strategy. If everyone starts hitting up Clorox…it will be hard to stand out as a team. Ultimately we’ll create a buyers market with these companies we’ve dubbed “high pandemic budgets” which will commoditize our assets and create a war on prices.

Instead, we should be looking at data and examples. We should be looking at who IS currently spending money right now on advertising. If they are spending on advertising…they have budgets.

If they have budgets open, we have the opportunity to work our assets and packages into those budgets if we approach it correctly.

But how do we do this? Well, it’s a bit different for each platform, but if we know where to look we can gain vital information.

Here are the three I go to:


Twitter is more of a receiver than a search platform. By this I mean we can’t search for a company and see their ads like you can with Facebook & Instagram.

What we can do though is see who is spending on the platform. How? Simply by scrolling through your feed. Yes, it is as simple as scrolling through your feed and looking for what ads pop up.

From about 2 minutes of scrolling, here are the ads that popped up on my feed.

First, let me start with the first pushback I always get when mentioning this as a prospect tactic, “Big brands aren’t spending money on Twitter, it will be a lot of smaller e-commerce companies.” I think the above dispels that.

These are MAJOR brands spending pretty sizable money during a pandemic. More importantly, they are all in categories that are prime for sports sponsorship.

The second issue I always get is “These are national campaigns, my local franchise doesn’t spend on these campaigns.” You are correct, they don’t make these decisions. BUT they will have the same goals.

If you can approach your local State Farm branch with “I noticed you all were promoting your ‘get you back on the road’ campaign on social media. I know you all aren’t spending these dollars but did you know our team has over 30,000 local followers on Twitter? I would love to help get them engaged with this campaign locally to drive customers.”

What looking through these Twitter ads will do for your sponsorship team is be able to bring context immediately to why they should spend their dollars with your team. This will single-handedly help you close deals, sometimes over your larger competitors.

If you are stuck and looking for brands to reach out to, jump on Twitter and see who is running ads.

Facebook & IG

Facebook and Instagram are a bit easier to find ads. Unlike with Twitter, you can actually look up all the ads that brands by looking them up.

Yup, you can literally see every ad that your target car brand is running.

With Facebook’s push toward transparency, they added the ability for users to see all the ads that company pages put onto both Instagram & Facebook.

Yes, you can see ALL the ads that your prospective brands are running. For absolutely FREE.

HERE is the link to the tool, it is run by Facebook. Simply type in the company you want to see.

For fun, let’s do Burger King (I really like how they have been marketing).

As you can see, Burger King is dropping a substantial amount of money into Facebook Ads. They currently have about 150 ads running. That is quite a bit of investment. They believe in grabbing their customer’s attention on this platform.

The most beautiful thing here though is you can see the actual ads they are running. You can see what they care about and, maybe more importantly, how they are telling that story.

As you can see here, the 2 for $5 for a PS5 is a campaign they are really pushing to drive sales. If you read the copy, you can see that they are pushing for orders on their app.

We have just learned 3 vital pieces of information with just these 3 ads;

  1. They want to push the 2 for $5 meal.
  2. They have a PS5 giveaway to drive it (we’re pretty good at that in sports)
  3. And the end goal seems to be driving BK App purchases for delivery.

With this information, we can approach and build a perfect package that speaks their language. Before we even jump on the call we have real information on the prospect. This will help us sell packages to them.

But, we don’t have to just search for national brands. With this tool, we can see the ads being run by EVERY Facebook company page.

Yes, that means if your local sponsor has a Facebook page, you can see if they are running ads.

We just bought a Toyota from Toyota of Portland this year…so I will use them as an example.

Now, it isn’t a HUGE amount of spend…but they are spending on Facebook & IG Ads. We can see here they are testing 3 different cars and ad copies.

Overall though, they are pushing 3 models and focusing on 3 value adds; Large selection, exceed expectations, and incredible savings.

With this information, we can bet that if we created a FB Live pre-game show and had a segment of the best saves of the season…they would be interested in sponsoring it.

Or even an Instagram pre-game post that focuses on the player they think will exceed expectations, brought to you by Toyota of Portland.

Again, these are the pieces of information we can thrive on by understanding WHERE they are spending their dollars. We can absolutely use this resource as a way to prospect for who is spending dollars during the pandemic and what their goals are.


I’ve said this multiple times, I think Snapchat is the most underutilized tool in sponsorship & sports media. The usage, attention, and dollars being spent on this platform is INSANE. It is underutilized by 99% of teams & organizations in sports.

Obviously, the first tactic here needs to be building a following on Snapchat. In sponsorship, we are monetizing our influence. We can’t monetize our influence on a platform if we don’t have any.

With that, there are a lot of dollars being spent here by brands.

I think we can all agree that these brands are in our targets for sponsorship prospecting. The same way we saw what brands are spending on through Twitter, we can scour Snapchat for these same ads.

If your team created a Snapchat pre-game show and got enough local reach (noticed I said local…you don’t have to have a ginormous following) all of these brands would be in play for a package.

Again the first step here is to build your following on Snapchat with great content. From there though you can prospect by looking at who is spending on this platform.


Much like Twitter & Snapchat, YouTube is another place brands are dumping revenue into to buy ads.

How much…a lot. See below for the ad spend for a company like Liberty Mutual…a company very much in our sponsorship category.

Yes, you read that correctly. In 90 days Liberty Mutual spent $66M on YouTube ads. I hope this is enough to convince you that you should be taking this platform seriously.

With that, this is a great place to prospect for leads. As you watch content (preferably sports) see which ads and pre-roll ads pop up in the videos. You will see companies that are in your realm of sponsorship categories spending major dollars here.

The most important item is these ads tell us the packages we should create for them

It’s one thing to make a list of all the brands spending here. It is a whole new ball game to understand WHY they are promoting here.

The beautiful thing about seeing these ads is you can understand what is most important to the brand running them. You can create a package around that need WHILE knowing that they believe the platform is worth investing in to drive sales.

For example from the Twitter ads, Pabst Blue Ribbon has a new beverage. They are selling Hard Coffee now as a product offering. It is their main priority right now. This is key information in prospecting.

When you build your package for them, you know 2 things; 1. They have a new product they are looking to promote. 2. They believe Twitter is a good platform to reach their customer.

In this Hard Coffee ad, someone is using the beverage to bake a new creation. Creating a package around one of your players making this recipe with the product for fans has a huge advantage over coming in cold.

As I stated at the beginning of this article, building CONTEXT is what makes prospecting through social media for brands so important. You aren’t really cold calling, you are warm calling with great research.

This is why it is so important to build an engaging social following & digital assets on all platforms.

It’s one thing to know their goals through these tactics, it’s a whole different ball game if you can shift some of the spendings here over to sponsoring YOUR digital assets.

Back to Rich’s saying, you rob a bank because that is where the money is, the main argument for why building digital sponsorship inventory is this is where brands ARE spending a massive amount of money.

We should, now more than ever, be absolutely obsessed with building out digital sponsorship assets. We need to have assets that will shift some of these dollars from Facebook ads into our digital following & content.

As I’ve mentioned before, the sponsorship industry is MASSIVELY over-leveraged into our physical assets. This pandemic brought us to our knees as an industry, it took

While our sponsor’s marketing goals have not changed, the platform in which they look to achieve them has.

While the tactics above can tell us those goals, if we cannot prove we can more efficiently reach their sponsorship goals…we won’t survive. Why would they shift their dollars from social media ads to us?

We’re entering a new era in sponsorship, one that has been accelerated by this pandemic, one that is seeing dollars shift to digital platforms. If we are not a part of that shift, we are doomed to fail as Blockbuster and Toys R’ Us have.

In the next ten years, we’ll look back at the teams who won and lost. The winners will have successfully shifted those brand dollars to their digital initiatives.



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