"With Akamai, we’ve seen a marked improvement in site performance — and that enables us to better compete in an industry where speed of delivery is crucial. We are far better equipped than our competitors to provide a premium experience that delights our customers."Shailendra Kalelkar, Digital Business Head, Business Standard
Newspapers in a digital age
Business Standard was one of the first major newspapers in India to offer a premium digital subscription, and its credible, insightful business analysis is a powerful draw for paying subscribers. But as in-depth newspaper articles increasingly get edged out by bite-sized content such as social media, the publisher needed to find new ways to build readership — with lots of fast, dynamic content. Akamai has helped it achieve that goal.
Staying credible and compelling to the next generation of business leaders
Few business publications in India are more trusted than Business Standard. The 45-year-old newspaper is known for accurate, credible reporting — reaching loyal readers in 1,000 cities across the country. Trading on its strong reputation for independent journalism, Business Standard was one of the first business publications to provide premium online content through a paid subscription service. Though much of its business remains in print circulation, its digital readership has been growing steadily, with 15 million unique visitors every month.
Reaching new readers is a continuing challenge for Business Standard, especially in a world increasingly dominated by social media. In India and around the world, more and more people are getting their news and information from sources such as Twitter, Facebook, TikTok, and WhatsApp. To compete, traditional journalism must evolve — while maintaining its unique value of objectivity and credibility.
"One of Business Standard’s biggest challenges is appealing to younger readers and building our readership over time," says Shailendra Kalelkar, Digital Business Head at Business Standard. "To cater to their needs, we’ve had to reinvent ourselves digitally and find new ways to win their business."
Kalelkar is responsible for driving the digital business, helping the newspaper attract new readers and paid subscribers online. One way he’s doing that is by working with prestigious Indian business schools, known as B-schools, to provide students with open access to Business Standard’s online content, with the goal of winning over the next generation of business leaders. Thousands of students are supplementing their studies with daily business news and archives of academic research, case studies, and best practices — all for free.
Business Standard is also reaching new readers by making its content richer and more dynamic, filling its digital edition with videos, images, podcasts, and polls on web and mobile. That’s a powerful draw for readers of all ages, who want breaking news, in-depth perspectives, and a unique experience — and are increasingly willing to pay for it. As Business Standard puts more of its content behind a paywall, it is convincing many discerning readers to purchase a premium subscription.
A fast, dynamic news experience boosts readership and search rankings
Business Standard's digital editions have been growing in popularity, but rising traffic volumes were putting increasing demands on the infrastructure — and at a certain point, performance reached its limit. For readers, that meant a slower website experience at critical moments, such as when Business Standard was covering breaking news or high-profile events, from extreme weather coverage to the Cricket World Cup.
"Our origin servers couldn't accommodate large spikes in traffic, which sometimes left our sites unresponsive to readers," says Gururaj Patil, Chief Manager of IT Systems at Business Standard. "Delivering a better customer experience meant investing in a content delivery network (CDN), and everyone we spoke to recommended Akamai as the market leader."
Aiming to deliver a premium customer experience, Business Standard decided to adopt a premium CDN, offloading both static and dynamic content from its origin servers with Akamai. The company purchased Akamai's Dynamic Site Accelerator to deliver dynamic content faster, including the stock ticker, live blogging, and video streaming elements. It also signed on to Akamai Download Delivery for static content such as images and videos — crucial for creating an engaging experience for today's highly visual consumers.
"Akamai was the only CDN provider that could support a seamless experience between our free content and our premium digital subscription service," says Prafulla Patil, Senior Systems Manager at Business Standard. "It is an efficient and effective solution for catering to two separate audiences and keeping certain content behind a paywall."
"With Akamai, we've seen a marked improvement in site performance — and that enables us to better compete in an industry where speed of delivery is crucial," says Kalelkar. "We are far better equipped than our competitors to provide a premium experience that delights our customers."
The performance increase also boosted Business Standard's visibility with search engines and news aggregators such as Google, Facebook, and Apple. As these platforms aggregate content from across the internet and present it to readers, they favor sites with fast content delivery and page loads. That means Business Standard's articles are more likely to get picked up by aggregators and reach a wider audience, bringing in new readers and building the company's digital revenue pipeline.
Writing tomorrow's digital editions
Business Standard can now focus on continued innovation to deliver an exceptional experience for its readers. "Since launching Akamai, we no longer grapple with performance and inefficiency, which has freed us up to pursue new ideas and accelerate initiatives that were previously on hold," says Kalelkar. "Akamai helped us move forward with new projects, including the introduction of different kinds of premium content and unique solutions for B-schools."
For example, Business Standard has developed weekly interactive quizzes for B-school students, encouraging them to become regular readers by providing content in a compelling and personally rewarding format — like social media sites. The company is even working with India's higher education accreditation boards on the possibility of integrating its newspaper content into the B-school curriculum and assigning credit points for student participation.
It's that kind of original thinking that will help Business Standard capture the hearts and minds of the next generation of business leaders — convincing young people to appreciate high-quality journalism. As more readers see the value of its premium content, the newspaper is confident digital subscriptions will continue to rise. And with Akamai, the company knows it can keep delivering a great experience as readership grows and content becomes increasingly dynamic.
"Akamai is a premium service that delivers far better performance than what it promises," says Patil. "That helps us take our business to the next level."
About Business Standard
Business Standard is India's leading business newspaper. First published from Kolkata on 27th March 1975, the brand is more than 45 years old. The website has a vintage dating back to January 1997 and featured amongst the early crop of Indian digital publishers. What differentiates Business Standard from the rest and has remained unchanged through its 45 years of existence is its unflinching accountability and transparency to its readers, and a truly independent editorial organisation.
Business Standard stands for reporting that stresses accuracy and credibility; commentary that is informed, independent, and fair; and journalism that is rooted in ethical conduct and defined by a sacrosanct bond with the reader. All Business Standard journalists sign on to a code of conduct that is available on their website. The stable of renowned Op-Ed contributors, i.e., economists, columnists, and opinion writers, have been revered equally by the evolved and the young and ambitious. Some of the finest minds in business, in the bureaucracy (past and present) and industry form a part of this select group. This unique combination of the best in business (writers and content) pivoted Business Standard to be amongst the first in India to have a reader paywall on its digital platform (launched on 1st June 2016). Besides a daily business newspaper (published from 12 metros) and a fledgling website, the brand is also published in Hindi (as a newspaper from 6 centres and a website).