Mad.co.uk: Seriously mad for it

One website is appealing to media professionals whose idea of news is deeper than the antics of supermodels and people in reality TV shows. Oliver Duff checks out a site that promises to go beyond the headlines

Wanted: media, marketing, advertising and design professionals who consider the trade press gossipy and frothy, and want instant editorial that takes the business side of the media seriously.

That is the pitch of mad.co.uk, a website battling the likes of Brand Republic, MediaGuardian and FT.com - as well as Haymarket's print editions of Campaign, Marketing and Media Week - to establish itself on the favourites list of the country's moguls.

You won't find bitchy diary items about your rival (or boss) or coverage of Big Brother. This is a site for people who take media money seriously.

"It's about giving you well-written stories on relevant subjects, helping you to do your job better, get more recognition, more success and more money for you and your business," says the publisher, Stephen Brooks. "We don't put up the winner of reality TV because it's not important to our customers. It is very much a service industry, as opposed to a magazine."

Before you get the impression that share prices rather dully take the place of celebrity misdemeanours, Brooks is keen to point out that the two can go together.

"Kate Moss is a classic example. The drug-taking is an important story only because she's an icon and brands have invested so much money in her.

"She's lost several contracts, but what does that mean? Celebrity brand endorsement is incredibly complicated. Where does the money go? What happens to the brand now? What do they do to stop this in future? That all got lost in the reporting somehow." The slow reaction of some of those companies that ditched Moss shows that there are boardrooms that might benefit from a subscription.

Launched in 1999, the site now has eight journalists, a 10-year archive of online and print content (from magazines including Marketing Week, Design Week and Brand Strategy) and 39,000 subscribers. There is a range of daily and weekly email newsletters, the meat and veg of any decent online op. It is making money too: profits rose by 40 per cent last year, the fourth year in the black. Subscriptions are reasonable: £25 a year for news updates and £210 for the archive as well.

The site's strength is its analysis: straight, insightful reporting that looks beyond the headline. It is earnest without being stuffy. To generate interest in political branding ahead of the general election in May, it asked six agencies to redesign the brand identity and advertising campaign of one of the main political parties. The Conservatives and Labour didn't bother to reply. (As part of its "debranding" of Labour, Geometry proposed a grey logo and "a popular vote to outlaw the use of any Moby or D:Ream pop songs at any party gathering of 10 people or more".) But the Green Party was so impressed with the way WPP's The Partners expressed its key arguments - "arguably more directly than we have", according to communications co-ordinator Matt Wootton - that the two plan to work together in the future.

Mad.co.uk's weakness is that for an online publisher - where being first to the story by minutes is secondary only to accuracy - it doesn't get enough scoops. If it truly plans to become required reading for execs, then it has to break more news. But better first to build a reputation for accuracy than spread its resources too thinly. The exclusives are beginning to come, says editor Sarah Lelic. Mad was an hour ahead of others on the news that BBH had picked up the British Airways account from M&C Saatchi, and was first to announce that Ofcom had banned Make Poverty History's television adverts because it considered it a political body and not a charity. Small successes, but the first steps on to a playing field inhabited by bigger beasts.

Brooks's ideal customers - his word - are "business decision makers" at dynamic, innovative start-ups, or "companies that think like funky, young companies". Apple, Google, eBay, 3, Vodafone, Honda and Dyson pass his lips.

Another is Innocent Drinks, which has been a subscriber for two years. Ailana Kamelmacher, PR, finds mad.co.uk "up to date, clear and easy to use". "Their reporting is balanced and, from my experience, accurate," she says. "I'd recommend it to anyone pitching for new business and trying to understand a brand quickly, as the archives are excellent."

Chris Taylor, head of communications at IPC Media, is another fan. "Increasingly it's a place for us to break our news, as the print trade magazines are focused more on issues and personalities," he says. "There is a critical mass websites have to achieve before they can break through as brands in their own right. Mad has a way to go yet but I recommend it to everyone from the chief exec to the publishing guys and editorial."

If people continue to take websites ever more seriously as an information source for news and jobs - and, crucially, if mad.co.uk gets those exclusives - it might just become a funky young brand itself.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
Lucerne’s Hotel Château Gütsch, one of the lots in our Homeless Veterans appeal charity auction
charity appeal
Life and Style
A woman walks by a pandal art installation entitled 'Mars Mission' with the figure of an astronaut during the Durga Puja festival in Calcutta, India
techHow we’ll investigate the existence of, and maybe move in with, our alien neighbours
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hughes (James Nesbitt) after his son Olly disappeared on a family holiday in France
tv
News
people

Jo from Northern Ireland was less than impressed by Russell Brand's attempt to stage a publicity stunt

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Sport
Nabil Bentaleb (centre) celebrates putting Tottenham ahead
footballTottenham 4 Newcastle 0: Spurs fans dreaming of Wembley final after dominant win
Arts and Entertainment
The Apprentice candidates Roisin Hogan, Solomon Akhtar, Mark Wright, Bianca Miller, Daniel Lassman
tvReview: But which contestants got the boot?
Arts and Entertainment
Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels ride again in Dumb and Dumber To
filmReview: Dumb And Dumber To was a really stupid idea
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Ian McKellen tempts the Cookie Monster
tvSir Ian McKellen joins the Cookie Monster for a lesson on temptation
News
i100
Travel
Tourists bask in the sun beneath the skyscrapers of Dubai
travelBritish embassy uses social media campaign to issue travel advice for festive holiday-makers in UAE
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established media firm based in Surrey is ...

Sphere Digital Recruitment: Display Account Manager

£25,000 to £35,000: Sphere Digital Recruitment: The Company Our client are th...

Sphere Digital Recruitment: Sales Director

£80 – 120K : Sphere Digital Recruitment: Sales Director – Ad tech - £80 – 120K...

Sphere Digital Recruitment: Senior Analyst – Global Sports Gaming Brand

40,000- 50,000: Sphere Digital Recruitment: Senior Analyst – Global Sports Gam...

Day In a Page

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum
France's Front National and the fear of a ‘gay lobby’ around Marine Le Pen

Front National fear of ‘gay lobby’

Marine Le Pen appoints Sébastien Chenu as cultural adviser
'Enhanced interrogation techniques?' When language is distorted to hide state crimes

Robert Fisk on the CIA 'torture report'

Once again language is distorted in order to hide US state wrongdoing
Radio 1’s new chart host must placate the Swifties and Azaleans

Radio 1 to mediate between the Swifties and Azaleans

New chart host Clara Amfo must placate pop's fan armies
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'It's life, and not the Forces, that gets you'

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'It's life, and not the Forces, that gets you'

The head of Veterans Aid on how his charity is changing perceptions of ex-servicemen and women in need
Torture: It didn't work then, it doesn't work now

Torture: It didn't work then, it doesn't work now

Its use is always wrong and, despite CIA justifications post 9/11, the information obtained from it is invariably tainted, argues Patrick Cockburn