- August 24, 2020

Sports and Stories: A Q&A With Renata Policicio, VP of Research & Insights at ESPN

Tania Yuki
Tania Yuki
Chief Marketing Officer and EVP of Digital
Comscore

Renata Policicio leads the Research and Insights group for ESPN’s Global Markets. Based at the company’s New York offices, she leads the research and analytics international team, responsible for providing strategic and actionable guidance to advance ESPN’s understanding of the context in which the brand competes globally, and drive growth & development in ESPN’s revenue-generating business units in more than 30 different countries in Latin America, Asia, Australia, Europe, Middle East and Africa.

She is a seasoned multi-cultural professional in the consumer insights industry, with over 20 years of experience in the consumer trends, advertising and business intelligence areas, having worked for major multinational media companies such as ESPN, Turner International, Microsoft and advertising agencies.

With specialization courses in consumer behavior and neuromarketing, she has an MBA in Business and Marketing and a bachelor degree in Communications from ESPM in Brazil.

Ahead of our joint webinar, we asked Renata to give some more insight into her research at ESPN about what makes a great sports story, as well as her career in data and analytics.

Q: "Data" and "Creative" don't always go together... can you share a little about what gave rise to this research, and how creatives and data lovers alike can benefit? 

A: The challenge was to put the method behind the magic of telling amazing stories. We aimed to measure what really impacts stories and the engagement they create and build a framework to guide future content. 

We were also very careful about how we told our data story: the report is full of examples, it was designed to inspire the content teams and go beyond the numbers, in an actionable way.

Q: Some might say - 'it's easy to be engaging when you're in sports!' Why does storytelling still matter even when you're a creator in a popular category like sports? What new challenges can this pose from a creative standpoint?

A: That is true, we know sports provide all the raw material for outstanding stories… but we also know that some are better than others. Every piece of content we produce tells a story, and storytelling is one of the company’s priorities for the last couple of years… that shows you it matters and there are a lot of opportunities to engage fans in new and fresh ways.

Q: What is the most important takeaway for you from this research, and why?

A: The importance of relatability for every story is for sure the most significant takeaway. No matter what KPI you want to drive, what demo you target, or what sport you base your story on, relatability and authentic human connection will always be key.

Q: Any advice on how data lovers out there can communicate research insights more effectively to their creative teams? 

A: Put yourself in their shoes, know your audience, and plan your presentation or report carefully. It is not that creative teams don’t care about research, but that they won’t engage if the format is not appealing for them. Make it more attractive by using real using examples, including recommendations, and being open to listening. Those will serve as inspiration, and brainstorming will naturally come.

Q: How did you get started in your career as an insights and research professional? Anything you wish you would have known upfront?

A: I wish I understood the importance of telling stories through data, of turning numbers to insights and wisdom that can drive the business forward. Good research is made of insights well told, the deliverable is as important as the data itself and the methods you use.

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