Colin Gottlieb, Omnicom’s former media boss in Europe, is taking a full-time role as chief growth officer at LadBible Group as the youth-focused publisher pushes to diversify its revenue beyond advertising and branded content.
The Manchester-based company, whose brands include SportBible, GamingBible and female-focused Tyla, presented its plans to staff this week.
The publisher has a strategy of deeper "audience engagement" and sees a "wide range of new potential revenue streams", including brand extensions and licensing, live experiences, events and merchandise – as well as premium content and recurring subscription revenues from its main brands.
LadBible launched online in 2012 as traditional, print men’s magazines were suffering structural decline and it built a large following on social media.
The publisher now employs 300 people in Manchester, London, Dublin and Sydney, Australia, and claims to reach two-thirds of 18- to 34-year-olds in the UK, plus a growing international audience.
Chief executive Solly Solomou is 29 and chief operating officer Arian Kalantari is 28. They recruited Gottlieb, 58, to be a part-time strategic board advisor in September 2019 after he left Omnicom.
Gottlieb, who has an entrepreneurial background as co-founder of Manning Gottlieb OMD, said he is taking the full-time role of chief growth officer because of LadBible's potential.
"The excitement of being part of a fast-growing, young media firm is real – and what quickly emerged on joining six months ago as a strategic board advisor was a realisation this business was a hidden gem of epic proportions – immense talent, a refreshing culture and enormous potential," Gottlieb said.
"We have only scratched the surface of opportunities closest to hand, while already delivering healthy results."
LadBible made a pre-tax profit of £3.6m on sales of £20.4m in 2018, accounts at Companies House show.
Solomou said LadBible can expand its offering for "both our audience and marketers", adding: "We know we can build far greater and deeper relationships with our audience."
Gottlieb will join a new executive board. It will also include Tim Croston, who joins from Nichols, the listed owner of Vimto, as chief financial officer.
Solomou and Kalantari are well-connected in Manchester’s digital media scene. Mahmud Kamani, co-founder and group executive chairman of Boohoo.com, is a shareholder in LadBible and sits on the board.