Martin Sorrell is right about media trust in young audiences, he just didn't go far enough

Sir Martin Sorrell was right when he talked about young audiences losing "trust" with traditional media, he just didn't go far enough, says Mimi Turner, marketing director of TheLADbible.

Mimi Turner: marketing director of TheLADbible
Mimi Turner: marketing director of TheLADbible

Last week TheLADbible used Instagram to announce that we'd become the proud sponsors of Hyde United FC, the non-league Manchester club whose fans completed a buy-out of the club earlier this year.

We won’t be butting up against Emirates or Etihad anytime soon. But putting much-needed cash into a club that embodies a love of community, humour and football is a good day for us.

Supporting grassroots heroes is core to TheLADbible's attitude, as well as our news and entertainment mix. Some days, as much as a third of our newslist is about relatable people doing incredible things.

Within sixty seconds of posting the new Hyde kit on TheLADbible Instagram feed – late on a Friday night – it had more than a thousand Likes and Comments.

Velocity is an important KPI for our family of brands: anything over 500 Likes within the first minute of posting means that content will go on to perform incredibly well. Over a thousand Likes in a minute is spectacular.

Being able to understand and predict audience response means TheLADbible can map the content that our audience really want. It helps us model an environment that recognises their instincts and expectations.

It is part of the reason that we reach more than 150 million people a week and why almost half the 18- to 34-year-old UK male population follow TheLADbible on Facebook (on top of that, a quarter of our audience are women).

At last month’s Cannes Lions, Sir Martin Sorrell tried to get to the root of why young audiences have deserted traditional news publishers.

He talked about The Guardian and the New York Times being too "stuffy" for young audiences. He talked about engagement. And, he tried to define why young people "trust" digital content that is completely different in "style" and tone.

Of course, Sir Martin is prescient and right. But I think the problem he is grappling with is even bigger than he sets out. Simply put, publishers whose reputations were built when news plurality was limited have proved unwilling, or unable, to respond to audiences of today.

Tinkering with style will not address the tectonic forces that have transferred power from news producer to consumer. A shift in tone doesn’t recognise the human desire to have conversations with people who share the same values, hopes and humour.

And the problem with a "stuffy" approach is that it mobile-native Millennials and Gen Z-ers who wield total power over the content they let into their lives.

In less than four years TheLADbible has become the biggest community for 18- to 34-year-old men in the UK. From a single Facebook page in 2012, the business founded by Solly Solomou and Arian Kalantari now has multiple brands with more than 26 million followers across Snapchat, WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

We have more than 33 million monthly uniques and are focused growing our monthly video views, currently at around 750 million views a month.

Our approach engages a young male audience through millions of interactions every day. We probably know more about this illusive, hard-to-reach and much-misunderstood audience than it has ever been possible to know before.

We know that they want brilliant and clever reasons to laugh at themselves and each other. We know that by doing something for a mate, or a cause, or a laugh, they become heroes. We know that the creepy Dapper Laughs/Nuts stereotype isn’t who they are, or want to be.

Most of all, we know that they badly want a community that accepts and understands who they are. When they believe in one, they come back over and over again.

That, to answer Sir Martin's question, is the new definition of "trust."

Mimi Turner is marketing director of TheLADbible

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