"There are a couple of metrics like page experience, core web vitals, mobile usability…all of these (Google) SEO specifically demands. With New Relic in phase one of our journey, we were able to go from a ‘poor’ category on all of these core metrics to ‘good’…we went from 20 to between 96 to 100"

Shubham Srivastava
CTO

HT Digital Streams (HTDS) is one of India’s fastest-growing digital media companies. As the digital arm of the Hindustan Times, it powers several of India’s leading news brands serving 270 million unique visitors a month and over 1.7 billion page views. HTDS comprises hindustantimes.com, livemint.com, livehindustan.com, and desimartini.com.

Switching on high growth mode for seamless scaling

India’s digital media and entertainment sector is fast-evolving and highly competitive. Revenue in the digital media market is predicted to reach over US$8 billion in 2022, according to Statista. Indian internet users are also forecast to grow from 600 million-plus in 2020 to 900 million by 2025, data by the Internet and Mobile Association of India and research firm Kantar shows, with Deloitte predicting there will be 1 billion users by 2026 - a huge market opportunity.

As one of India’s largest digital media companies, HT Digital Streams serves around 250 million users every month across all its platforms. On a day-to-day basis, the tech team’s work involves delivering on the wider business and core business metrics and monitoring how they are performing, as well as looking at verticals and any technical issues that need to be addressed.

Previously it was very difficult to measure the impact of technology performance on business metrics such as revenue and profit and correlate tech and strategic KPIs.

"In most of my earlier experiences, I always faced resistance or a challenge around how to ensure a direct correlation of key technology KPIs tied to business objectives. For example, if your response time is less than two seconds, how do you correlate that to business performance? We wanted to take a deeper dive into the data to understand how we could innovate and grow, as well as achieve optimal reliability and performance," explains Shubham Srivastava, CTO at HT Digital Streams.

Reaching that level required uncompromised uptime, performance, and real-time user monitoring. To achieve this, the organisation evaluated several tools as well as custom in-house solutions. New Relic was identified as ideal for delivering valuable insights through observability. “We realised New Relic was the one who could give us that level of visibility…and get exposure to that observability data,” Shubham says.

A "front page" dashboard for digital newspapers

Using New Relic, HT Digital Streams mapped out the right metrics that were continually optimised until it reached a level of exceptional performance that could be maintained.

"How do you always ensure that you consistently stay there? And what kind of process, what kind of rigour, what kind of focus do you need for that? I think that’s the key–how we got that process set up. And of course, New Relic critically helped us in building and solving that," Shubham says.

New Relic dashboards, set up for the tech team as well as other departments such as product and analytics, deliver very clear visibility across the organisation. The dashboards help with two key areas: optimising performance, which is critical for SEO, and the running of day-to-day operations.

New Relic is used across all HT Digitial Stream’s key flagship digital news properties including HT Mint, which is one of the leading business news digital platforms in India, Hindi digital news platform LiveHindustan, Hindustan Times and centralised content publishing platform, Blankpaper.

All in all, HT Digital Streams has upwards of 10 million daily users reading and interacting with news stories, conducting financial transactions, as well as a few hundred staff writing different content and publishing it across different interfaces, from mobile apps to web browsers.

"How do you ensure that, in real-time, you are able to control and be able to influence the wider consumer experience in a more optimal way? That is where I think platforms like New Relic help, which essentially gives you multilevel integrated data," Shubham says.

Revealing the secrets of SEO success

HT Digital Streams has realised clear benefits since deploying New Relic. These include real-time operational efficiency, performance engineering capability, and faster development cycles. New Relic has helped considerably with front end and browser instrumentation, and understanding of what affects SEO - how Google is perceiving individual websites and scoring them in terms of listing.

“From a pure performance optimisation standpoint, there are a couple of metrics like page experience, core web vitals, mobile usability…all of these (Google) SEO specifically demands.

“With New Relic in phase one of our journey, we were able to go from a ‘poor’ category on all of these core metrics to ‘good’…(it’s like) from a scale of 0 to 100, we went from 20 to between 96 to 100,” Shubham says.

Prior to New Relic, there were lost support tickets and issues were falling between the cracks, but by providing a “single pane of glass" view of operations, New Relic has made the process much easier and more efficient to manage.

"When you have multiple sets of platforms working together, how do you arrive at the core problem and what are the suggested ways to solve it? With New Relic, we’ve been able to build the right observability stack across different layers, right from the end users’ devices to something as niche as the backend layer that you're operating in," Shubham explains. “I have no doubt New Relic can absolutely help us drive faster growth and has what it takes to help us scale”.

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