SBJ/March 18-24, 2013/Forty Under 40

Forty Under 40

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Photo: JOE FARAONI / ESPN
The Holy Grail for media companies these days is figuring out how to make money off of social media. At ESPN, Lisa Valentino, senior vice president of multimedia sales, is the executive leading that charge.

“Sports is social,” Valentino said, adding that Twitter’s most popular trending topics are dominated by sports, especially when games are being played. “The question is, How do we incorporate our advertisers into that?”

One way to incorporate advertisers came last year, when Valentino cut a partnership with Twitter. During college football’s bowl season, Twitter and ESPN embedded game highlights in tweets, which were sponsored by Ford.
ESPN also has been dabbling with sponsored tweets that are separate from the presentation of those bowl highlights, Valentino said.

“Social is very much a part of what we do,” Valentino said. “It’s woven into how we think about everything. Revenues from social will continue to grow over time.”

Valentino is a different kind of ad sales executive at ESPN. Rather than just selling ad time to interested sponsors, she is deeply involved in developing strategies around ESPN’s digital, social and mobile selling efforts.

Valentino joined ESPN six years ago after a stint at Yahoo. Earlier this year, she was promoted to oversee ESPN’s sales teams in Atlanta and New York. She reports to ESPN’s executive vice president of multimedia sales, Eric Johnson, and oversees digital sales for espnW, Global X Games and ESPN International.

“The digital advertising marketplace shifts at a frenetic pace, and Lisa has been a critical figure in the continued evolution of ESPN’s digital media strategy,” Johnson said. “She has been tremendous in leading us to success and positioning us ahead of the market. Her ability to see around the next curve reminds me of the famous Wayne Gretzky quote: ‘A good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be.’”

— John Ourand



Age: 38
Title: Senior vice president, multimedia sales
ORGANIZATION: ESPN
Education: B.A., English and art history, Lafayette College
Family: Husband, Amiram; children Liam (3) and Olivia (16 months)
Career: Before ESPN, Yahoo Inc., ultimately as sales director at Yahoo Sports sales, overseeing the East and Central regions of the country; prior to that, media buyer at TeleVest, including work on the Procter & Gamble account.

Best business advice received: “If you aren’t willing to risk it all, then you don’t want it bad enough.” — Dad
Worst advice received: “Act like you’ve been there.” (Because you don’t learn, ask questions, grow, etc.)
IPOD PLAYLIST: Pink, Barry Manilow, Madonna, Michael Jackson, to name a few.
TWITTER HANDLE: @valentil1
PERSONALITY, IN A TWEET: Driven, a fighter, humble, eyes wide open
Farthest traveled from U.S.: Italy
Stress release: “The Real Housewives of New York”
Guilty pleasure: Sleeping in
FANTASY JOB: Professional soccer player
Favorite movie line: “Do, or do not. There is no try.” (“The Empire Strikes Back”)

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