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Social news and entertainment sites have fast become a competitor to traditional, mainstream media networks but as these upstarts themselves become social media giants, there are new entrants snapping at their heels.
TheLADbible is the latest social media-based site aiming to rival the dominance of sites like Vice, which was founded in 1994 in Canada, and BuzzFeed, founded in 2006, which are predicated on often social-media driven news, content and video with an aim that such content will go viral.
In July, the LADbible Group – a self-titled online community for "guys aged 16-30" whose site features news, entertainment and tech stories, (often brash) humor and viral content and video from around the world – had 3.1 billion views across all platforms, making it "the number one most watched media property in Europe," according to Press Gazette, and a credible rival to the "big boys."
Adam Clyne, chief operating officer at TheLADbible Group, told CNBC on Thursday that the group was "very proud" of its latest viewing figures and that it was looking to rival global names like Vice and BuzzFeed.
"We're actually the biggest video provider in Europe right now," Clyne told CNBC Europe's "Squawk Box." "We are a news and entertainment site and a way one of our user's summed it up is that we're not 'the news', we're 'our news' so we are able to package up the relevant world for our youth audience and send them a blend of content, whether it's the funny, the viral, the political, the campaigning or the things that matter to them."
"We look at Vice and BuzzFeed as the people we really want to understand and go after," Clyne added. "But I also think we have a very different offering to them. They have things they're brilliant at and so do we. We're also disrupting some of the more traditional players, like broadcasters, because people have only so much time that they can consume media so…we see ourselves playing in the TV space of the big digital disruptors as well."
The LADbible's forebears have certainly become big business with Vice reportedly valued at $4 billion in 2015. Likewise BuzzFeed, with over 180 million global unique visitors (as of the last count in August) has achieved over a billion dollar valuation. When NBC Universal (CNBC's parent company) invested $200 million in the company last year, it had an estimated value of $1.5 billion. Last year, NBC Universal also invested the same amount in new media company Vox Media, valuing the company at $1 billion.
As a U.K.-based company, the LADbible Group is an online successor to the "lads mags" – magazines aimed at young men –of the 1990s which have since gone into decline. Clyne said the LADbible Group, which was founded in 2012 and now employs 100 people, was careful not to over-serve its audience with advertising and explained how the group makes money.
"They are comfortable with an advertising format but they don't want too much of the content they view just to be advertising so the blend is important to us and getting that right matters. We also work with a lot of brands as well so we help create branded content for them and franchises so what we're very good at is understanding our audience and the things they want to see and understanding the brands and what they want to communicate."
He said such blended advertising was a "new wave" of advertising and engagement rather than the traditional "watch this" way of advertising.
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