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
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
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

Recruitment Genius: Professional Sales Trainee - B2B

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: First things first - for the av...

Guru Careers: Creative Designer / Graphic Designer

Competitive: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Creative Designer / Graphic Design...

Guru Careers: Graduate Marketing Executive / Marketing Assistant

£18 - 23k (DOE): Guru Careers: A Graduate Marketing Executive / Assistant is n...

Recruitment Genius: Business Analyst - ECommerce

£35000 - £43000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers' in retail...

Day In a Page

Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most
Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

Something wicked?

Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
10 best sun creams for body

10 best sun creams for body

Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon files

Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games
Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with cynicism and greed
How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map