CANNES, France — The conservative British mid-market tabloid is a gargantuan celebrity traffic driver online. Now it wants to both align and connect with a leading social messaging service.

“It’s a little bit like WhatsApp,” says Jon Steinberg, the BuzzFeed president who was named Mail Online north America CEO this week. “It’s this giant thing that everyone goes to but somehow not everyone knows by name. The challenge is to make the brand as big as the product actually is.”

The news site, which is noted for being widely read and for being entirely separate from its print sibling, claims 170 million monthly unique visitors last month, 57 million of which were in the US, where it now employs around 170 of its 500 global staff.

“We’re going to grow massively over the next 12 months,” Steinberg adds, “(with) business hires, new editorial vertical hires, more world news.

“I’d like us to lean in to WhatsApp – a lot of the Mail Online content lends itself to that. The Gwyneth Paltrow (story) … is a perfect WhatsApp-type sharing thing. (We will plan) more WhatsApp, more SMS, more of the small network sharing.”

He was speaking with Beet.TV during the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. You can find more of our Cannes coverage here.