Controversial, throwaway, outrageously successful, challenging, pointless, forward thinking… and, most of all, socially astute.
The list of ways to describe rival websites LADBible and UNILAD could go on for much, much longer. The digital media giants, both based in our own hometown of Manchester, have been branded as everything from trashy to bigoted by critics, with a poll by the National Union of Students back in 2014 finding that 63% of women thought the titles promoted sexism and unfair representations of girls.
Nevertheless, statistics speak for themselves.
LADBible, for example, was sporting more than 10million Facebook followers by 2015. As The Independent pointed out, even then they had over twice the number any UK newspaper could muster. At the time of writing, the newer UNILAD was bettering that, with more than 20million and counting.
With those kind of numbers people can’t help but stand up and take serious notice, despite the fact both outlets are stereotypically considered to be purely concerned with ‘having a laugh’. As Mimi Turner, until recently marketing director at LADBible, once said: “We take a view that if something is funny, smart or distinctive enough to share with 80 friends, then eight million people will also like it.???
For some, it’s clickbait and viral fodder to be picked up, viewed and forgotten next month. Realistically, though, the landscape is changing, with both looking to cement themselves as credible, far-reaching publications that can just as easily post memes of dogs skiing as they can launch an investigative report into issues impacting millennials.
Here are five reasons you might just find yourself looking for coverage on either, or ideally both, in the near future:
They are already future-proofing
To give an idea of what we’re talking about here, LADBible just started hiring 16-year-olds in its newsrooms to dispel fears its staff- who are in their 20s- are already becoming too set in their ways.
The readerships are universal (if you’re young enough)
Despite what the naysayers say, 20% of all women in the UK aged 18-24 are now following LADBible. UNILAD, in comparison, has 50% female visitors from its multi-million site hits every four weeks.
The reach. The reach.
UNILAD is the most-viewed video publisher in the world. In. The. World. 2.7billion views each month across the globe. LADBible claims 2.2million hits a day, 21.5million unique visitors every month. Nope, none of those figures are typos.
Media empires in the making
LADBible, for example, is backed by 65Twenty, which also owns TheSportBible and Pretty 52- the first is self-explanatory, the second is a direct competitor to Vice’s female-focussed Broadly and Daily Mail’s Elite Daily. The younger UNILAD, which is going through exponential growth, also has plans for future expansion.
There is a lot more going on than #bants
UNILAD’s has run recent long form editorial on international military tensions, homelessness, and male suicide. Many of its staff are trained journalists, and its frequently cited watershed moment is a video of an injured man offering help amid the chaos of the Boston bomb. LADBible got a lot more serious last year by hiring Vice Media’s former deputy managing editor, Ian Moore, and Weber Shandwick’s former digital top dog, Adam Clyne, now chief operating officer on the site