Leading The Charge

This piece was first published in MARKETING MAGAZINE Issue 351

Angie Cutter’s name is familiar to anyone who has engaged with outdoor media. 

She is one of the few female stalwarts in this largely male industry. 

With over 20 years of experience, she has worked at Big Tree and also led Kinetic, a WPP Out-Of-Home (OOH) media specialist. 

Today her company, TAC Media, is one of the largest independent outdoor media specialists in the country. 

Furthermore, her company has extensive global partnerships and has delivered solutions to clients in such diverse markets like China, the United Kingdom, Singapore, Indonesia and Thailand. 

Recently, Angie became the toast of the global out of home industry, as she was instrumental in bringing the industry standard World Out Of Home Organization APAC Forum to Malaysia for the very first time in October 2022. 

Companies from over 30 countries ranging from Argentina to Japan and everywhere in between attended the event in KL and exchanged valuable ideas, insights and spoke of industry change. Angie is a key member of the organization and is invited to attend worldwide events. 

She shares, “Malaysia is the world’s 17th largest out of home market. This is a huge fact: we punch way ahead of our population ranking (45th, Worldometer) and geographical size (66th).” 

“Our local industry is innovative and entrepreneurdriven.” 

“We have grown into a USD 1 billion industry despite the headwinds of the pandemic. But we need to step into the future by putting into place better measurements, more digitisation of screens and creating more innovative links to other mediums like digital.”

Angie Cutter, Founder of TAC Media

Reminiscing about her early days she said, “I began in ad sales, which was a great training ground and boot camp. Some people still sell outdoor the way it was sold 20 years ago. But today I see change beckoning.” 

“There are 22 key media owners in the industry, and the pandemic has hit hard. OOH was the first form of advertising that got cancelled during the pandemic. There is consolidation happening, and the number of media owners in the future will be reduced.” 

“Furthermore, with the rise of Digital screens, and programmatic DOOH, there is a need for investment in technology. The industry today is at the crossroads, and we at TAC are working towards being part of the future.” 

“Today, about 35-40% of Malaysia’s out of home locations feature digital screens, which is in line with the global average. Digital screens allow for programmatic ad placements, and for short bursts of campaigns.” 

“Digital campaigns also require less lead time to go live (a week or two versus a month for static billboards). Ads can also be targeted by location, time of day, weather APIs and more. From a creative point of view, they allow for a lot more flexibility and ideation.”

“At the same time, digital screens deliver a lot less share of voice per brand (16% typically) as a part of a loop of ads compared to static billboards that deliver 100% share of voice.” 

“Data from leading media specialists like Group M, IPG Mediabrands, Ampersand Advisory, Invictus Blue and others shows that OOH is a key medium for driving brand awareness and equity.”

She adds, “Many Malaysian advertisers are still not capitalizing on this kind of data analysis and are missing an opportunity.”

We asked Angie what ails the industry and what changes are required, for this industry to prosper?

Accountability and guidelines: “There needs to be greater accountability as there are no proper guidelines and a lack of proper enforcement for the little there is. OOH advertising guidelines differ from state to state. In advanced markets like Australia and UK, there are well-developed guidelines that are consistent across the country. This, among others, are some of the challenges we face and we intend to be the forerunners of things to come.” 

Excessive price focus: “Today clients are not discussing whether the viewing angle of a signage is good enough, how much clutter is surrounding the site, or the location itself of the billboard. The price aspect seems to dominate discussions and it’s the cheapest that counts,” she said. “We need to educate the market and the industry needs to take a proactive role in that process.”

Proliferation of sites: “The number of media sites had ballooned over the years and there were as many as between 10,000 to 12,000 throughout the country while the number of media owners had risen in tandem. The business was not sustainable for everyone and in some places there was a clutter of sites.”

Lack of customized creative: “There is a need to localize creative – the visual narrative. The look and feel. Sometimes creative needs to be adapted – localised – to the particular size or format. Copying the same visual used in other media can sometimes be a missed opportunity. It could be better to build a bespoke creative that’s contextual and customized.”

Data and metrics is key: “Data is required to support and has to play that role in the whole of the ecosystem. There is currently no industry standard on traffic measurement, for instance. In markets like the UK a single body invested in such data mining and where 70% of the necessary research was paid for by the media owner and 30% by the agencies.”

The World Out of Home Organization has painstakingly created guidelines and approaches that Malaysia can use, with requisite adaptation to local requirements. With its strategic thinking, passionate people and years of industry experience, Angie Cutter’s TAC Media is clearly driving the cutting edge of progress in Malaysia’s and the region’s thriving OOH industry. 

TAC Media will spearhead as an agency that will change the outdoor landscape and how it is perceived, adding value for clients whilst justifying their investment in outdoor.

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The APPIES is an annual event that presents a rare opportunity for creative, media, digital and marketing agencies or brands to present their best campaigns to the industry.

This is the only event where Live Presentations meets Live Judging.

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