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In this series, Talk data to me, we chat to leaders from the world’s biggest brands and agencies about how they’re using insights to drive their business strategies. 

We had the pleasure of speaking to Jane Guo, head of analytics and insights at ONE Championship and ONE Esports. We talked about diversity in sports and gaming, why customer relationship management (CRM) sits in her data team, and the cookieless future. 

What’s your favorite stat in the whole wide world?

Our last wave of Fan Engagement Tracker in Q4 2021 discovered over 60%1 of esports gaming fans actually consume non-tournament related content, which signals a huge shift in content diversification.

We dug deeper with qualitative research to explore why, and started to see different motives. Some people want to interact, share, and compete with one another, others want to learn or be entertained.

I think that’s really exciting, because it opens up so many opportunities for brands to interact with esports and gaming fans.

Talk to me about an example of data-led creativity that you really loved. 

When I thought about this question, I wanted to go back to the holy grail – my Disney days – and talk about the ‘Princess IP’, those characters live happily ever after once the princess is saved by a prince. When you put that into a modern context, it seems a bit unfit, right? We celebrate independence, strength, and grace demonstrated by the new age women of today.

So, there was a big brand study around the Princess IP across the globe at the time, and we worked closely with the Global Brand Management team to uncover that the modern target audience found the old princess brand attributes really outdated. Long story short, the research piece was part of the global revamp of the Disney Princess, and our findings helped reshape what brand attributes a modern princess should represent across countries. The new princess franchise ‘Frozen’ was born under that context and achieved an amazing box office success.

How does the use of data or audience insights inform your business strategy, and how does it give you that competitive edge?

We treat data insights work very seriously. Interestingly, CRM sits under my data team at ONE, which I think is quite unique. A lot of companies park CRM under marketing. From day one of setting up CRM, we recognized the importance of first-party data management, at a corporate level.

While it’s still early days, we have started experimenting with different initiatives by utilizing our first-party data. Ultimately, we want to deepen our relationship with fans across the globe, listen to what they like (and don’t like), and therefore connect with them to a greater degree.

What’s the most interesting thing about your audience?

The first thing that jumps out is the synergy between gaming and sports audiences. When we were strategizing our esports arm’s launch plan, we did an audience study and were pleasantly surprised that almost 70% of our ONE Championship2 audience were also esports and gaming fans. 

We’ve also seen the rise of women in sports and gaming. At ONE Championship, we have a world-class roster of female athletes, like Angela Lee, for example, who has been with us since the beginning of her career.

Much like in MMA (mixed martial arts), when people think of esports, they sometimes assume that it’s reserved for a specific type of man.

But actually, today in Southeast Asia, women make up almost half of the esports and gaming community3

So when we think about our strategy in terms of story-telling, content distribution and social media, female engagement is critical and what sets us apart from peers.

What’s your take on the cookieless future?

It’s inevitable as consumers become more savvy about digital. As brands and marketers, we should all embrace this privacy-first future. One way to tackle this is to think deeply about building a direct relationship with consumers. 

We should treat our customers like people and promote more open communication, instead of thinking about them like a data point. I think that needs to be a major mindset shift for all marketers.

What top trend are you seeing emerge in your wider industry?

One trend we’re trying to capitalize on right now is the rise in mobile. Not everyone can afford a widescreen TV, high-end gaming computer, or the latest console, but most people own a smartphone and have access to a decent speed of internet these days.

We see this as a unique opportunity. If you think about combat sports, the content of two athletes grappling each other is actually very suitable to watch on-the-go and on your phone, versus football and basketball, which, relatively speaking, is a bit harder to follow on a smaller screen. Mobile gaming has also been rising in popularity – in fact, 88% of gamers in Southeast Asia use mobile to play games today according to GWI4.

As I mentioned earlier, another important industry trend is the growing importance of women in sports. This is especially true for traditional sports and gaming, which are often viewed as male-dominated sectors.

As the number of women in these industries continues to grow, marketers and content creators need to offer inclusive content that resonates with a wider audience. Understanding their needs, values, preferences, and behavior is key to connecting with them and growing the community. 

ONE is well equipped to help brands build a sincere relationship with this core segment. Beyond this, empowering women, not just from the content or business side of things, but also from an organizational point of view, is key. This is why we are big supporters of our women leaders at ONE.

Sources

  1. ONE Esports Fan Engagement Tracker FY21 Q4
  2. ONE community x esports deep dive, FY20 Q2
  3. ONE Esports Insights Series 2021: Demystifying the Female Esports Community in Southeast Asia
  4. GWI Core, FY22 Q1-Q2
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