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'To the moon' - ad veteran Colin Gottlieb explains how he'll grow LadBible

The Drum 30 Jun 2020 07:00
'To the moon' - How adman Colin Gottlieb plans to growth LADBible

When former Omnicom media boss Colin Gottlieb took on the chief growth officer role at LadBible Group in February, he was literally tasked with ‘putting Lad on the moon’. After a career of arranging vast media audiences for huge brands, now he sits upon one of the world’s largest reserves of young, engaged internet consumers. Gottlieb now has to reverse engineer the products and opportunities he would have loved to have bought.

Colin Gottlieb joined LadBible in the final quarter of 2019, coming on as an advisor at the request of founder Alex Solomou.

“I was never going to do something which is another agency after 22 years at Omnicom," he says. "When I stepped down, Solly came straight in for me. When he wants to get stuff done, [like the Unilad takeover], he will get stuff done.”

The adman anticipated meeting a “swaggering lad” in Solomou. Instead, he was greeted by a “very considered, very quiet, very focused young man who was way more than his 28 years”. Solly, as he is known, is one half of the LadBible founding team, alongside Arian Kalantari.

Over the last few months, he's been looking for ways to "attack the opportunity" – even during the lockdown.

Joining LadBible

"I went online and Will.I.Am was a strategic board advisor of some internet bank. If it was good enough for him. It was good enough for me."

Gottlieb's looking at the overlap of content and audiences with a focus to find new profitable pursuits. “It’s a huge oil field with only three drills going,” he said. The time is fast approaching to put more drills down.

The branded content wing is being upgraded into a more cohesive content marketing suite, with creative from its agency Joyride, and the reach all but assured on its huge social channels. On the programmatic side, it's recently secured the IAB Gold Standard and will be leaning on that as a trusted beacon for potential partners.

Lad in Lockdown

Months ago there was a new level of responsibility laid upon the platform's shoulders. It was the go-to route to young audiences. it had cut through, where many of the hard news outlets lacked reach. It stepped up its editorial game and responsibly reported on the coronavirus – a quick glance at the straight and informative tone of this coverage may surprise naysayers. It's worth remembering that some tabloids were still chasing clicks with sensational, and not-so-accurate claims.

Weeks later, there was "shock" in media circles when Simon Binns, editor of LadBible, popped up during the UK daily coronavirus press conferences to ask a question of the government.

The conversation progressed and all of a sudden the news team had to come up with a single question the projects the importance of the brand and addresses the concerns of its young audience.

Indicating the importance of this moment, Gottlieb says: "I was standing in my kitchen with the TV on. Almost any pitch I'd given during my Omnicom days was nothing next to this. My heart had almost stopped watching Simon ask his question. But he knocked it out of the park."

This comes with the territory, according to Gottlieb. "It showed that a lot of people still don't understand what LadBible is. But hundreds of millions of young people do. Politicians do. And trust me, celebrities do. Very canny people do. But some people in the ad industry still ask 'what's LadBible?'"

LadBible's gearing up a huge push in the affiliate marketing space. It is studying the huge rise of social commerce in the east. It believes that consumers will purchase goods through its channels.

LadBible's been creating these interactions for a decade now. More recently it's been building trust, habits and utility with that cherished young audience. Next is to use these channels to drive huge demand to select products. The likes of BuzzFeed and Jungle Creations have been pulling user data to inform brand partners what will sell in the cooking space. It will be late to the game – but looks to move fast to catch up.

The group is also eyeing up pushes into audio, growing the LadBible app, making a noise in music, and Food Bible's just got 841,000 followers, "food, we haven't even touched it yet."

Gottlieb concludes: "We've got the opportunity to build something insane. It's got an enormous audience and it's hardly been tapped."

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GottliebColin GottliebLadBibleSollyOmnicom media
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