Marketers in China are focusing on digital media more than ever, with good reason. The country's digital economy has been growing more than 50% a year, prompting media agencies to greatly expand their digital planning and buying capabilities. Under Arlene Ang, the first CEO of a major agency with a long digital career, OMD China is a market leader.
In 2013, digital contributed about 12% of the agency's total revenue. This year, that figure reached "about 25%," said Ms. Ang, one of Ad Age's 2014 Women to Watch China.
The Singapore native's drive and insight has helped create the largest programmatic buying resource in China, working closely with China's burgeoning tech and data businesses. She has also introduced initiatives such as the OMD Innovation Fund that enables budding entrepreneurs and tech developers to kickstart their own businesses with investment and expertise from OMD.
"Most TV content in China is now consumed on devices like smartphones and tablets, not TV sets," Ms. Ang said. "In China even more than the U.S., young people especially don't watch TV or read newspapers now. If you do offline without doing online now in China, you are missing something."
She launched her own digital marketing agency AdXplorer in 1999, and in 2006 sold it to Publicis Groupe. That put her in charge of Publicis Modem in Asia until she joined OMD in 2010, to lead its Intel business in China.
"China's digital scene is running at twice the speed of the U.S. and is full of challenges—talent shortage, innovation, demanding clients," said Doug Pearce, Omnicom Media Group's Greater China CEO. "She's now turning her hand to a large business with 800-plus people, having done an awesome job building out our digital capability."
She has put digital "front and center" for all brands that work with OMD in China. She helps brands like McDonald's, Intel and Coach put digital at the core of their marketing, and leads digital media training sessions for leading brands in China like Estee Lauder.
Ms. Ang said "We've put additional resources in every team and each team leader working with clients has to be a 'no-line' person," a term she coined for staff equally trained in offline and online marketing.
The Women to Watch China questionnaire:
Home city: Singapore
Hobbies: Loves to travel and visit exotic places
First job: account executive at a local ad agency
Lived abroad: In Japan, Hong Kong and China
Best advice you've ever gotten: "There is no one outside the door"…meaning forget about getting help from outside. Solve problems on your own.