Lifestyle & Culture

The "LAD" Phenomenon

The Explosion of New Content: The LADBible and UNILAD

18.04.2018 | by Kezia Parkins
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With Facebook page likes upwards of 35 million, monthly video views of more than a billion and article shares reaching over 65 million a month, the youth-powered pop news websites LADBible and UNILAD boast numbers that would make established media houses such as Daily Mail and Guardian envious.

In an interview with WIRED, Mimi Turner, the previous head of marketing for The LADBible Group, said, “We probably know more about young men than anybody has ever known.” While this seems to be a bold claim to make, if their online engagement numbers were to be considered a parameter — it might as well be true.

What sets UNILAD and The LADbible Group apart from quirky Facebook pages is data. Both youth-centric content creators have their editorial and video teams work constantly in tandem with their data team.

Wired reported in 2017 that the content for The LADBible and its spin-off sites – The SPORTbible, The ODDSbible, The LENSbible, The GAMINGbible, The FOODbible, The LADbible OZ and a women’s site, Pretty52 — is produced on the busiest of the three floors. Each platform has its own editorial team: the technologists and data scientists sit close by, ensuring that the operation is tightly integrated. There are around 20 people at their desks on a given day, but numbers can vary as the content is uploaded 18 hours per day in shifts. According to Sean Durkin, 27, an astrophysics graduate who established The LADbible’s data science department, the feeling that most drives virality is “shared reminiscence — content that evokes a memory of having done something with someone else is absolute dynamite.”

The Lad Bible Group

Similarly, stories that make viewers want to plan ahead to do something with someone else in the future also works…as well as competitive things — downing pints, or football tricks — that prompt them to tag a friend and say, “You need to up your game.”

“What they don’t share, are stories that make them lose faith in humanity – sad stories are OK, but not ones that make them think, ‘I can’t imagine why anyone would do this,’ because if they can’t imagine themselves doing something, it’s not relatable, and the main thing is, it has to be relatable.”

This uplifting feeling is the hallmark of the soft content produced by the ‘LAD’ websites. They seem to understand that editorially heavy and well-researched pieces about serious issues do no resound as well with a younger audience as videos of people having lunch while suspended 50 feet in the air.

“I can’t claim to be the genius who sat down and created this strategy. It was instinct, just moving”
-Alex “Solly” Solomou, TheLADbible co-founder

Alex “Solly” Solomou, The Guardian

UNILAD and the LADbible both owe their origins to a man named Alex Patridge who owned the domains unilad.com and ladbible.com. The original websites did gain some popularity on the social media channels but were criticized heavily for their “lad-magazine-esque” content. The better informed and much-organised successors of Alex Patridge have tried to swing away from the “lad-heavy” content and veer more into what they call “inclusive content.”

The behemoth success of LADbible and UNILAD have paved the way for numerous internet media companies, such the Hook, 9Gag and ScoopWhoop, to churn out “relatable content” on a daily basis.

While the success of the “LAD” duo has been phenomenal and has changed the way people across the UK consume content on the web, their major competition lies on the other side of the Atlantic. Buzzfeed and VICE are the first choices for brand partnership, and their online following is way ahead of UNILAD and The LADBible Group.

Alex Partridge, LinkedIn

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"We can change the type of content we go for because people will listen. We were very proud of that, I am very proud of that.”
- Liam Harrington, Founder of UNILAD

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