India’s largest media and entertainment company, The Times of India Group is the latest to turn to analytics to power its editorial analytics engine and driving deeper user engagement with its content for it’s digital venture Times Internet Limited (TIL) which is the largest Indian Internet Network and it’s websites are among the fastest growing Web and Mobile based networks worldwide.
This is facilitated by a US-based MongoDB, the database for giant ideas which, offers the best of traditional databases as well as the flexibility, scale and performance required by today’s applications.
Since its inception in 1999, Times Internet has led the Internet revolution in India and has emerged as India’s foremost web entity, running diverse portals and niche websites. Currently, TIL hosts the online presence of 22 publications (including the Times of India), and supports more than 150 million visitors generating in excess of 2 billion page views monthly.
MongoDB has become the default database for all their projects. Gagan Bajpai, Vice President at Times Internet Limited, commented, “We don’t ask, ‘why MongoDB?’ Now we ask, ‘why would we use anything else?’”.
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The application by MongoDB was initially aimed to take advantage of how quickly developers could work with the database. However, it also allowed seamless scaling and offered a flexible schema, enabling additional application functionality to be easily accommodated, even while running in production.
TIL’s editorial engine analyzes user behavior for every published story, providing feedback on how stories are consumed through web heatmaps and analytics dashboards. Site editors gain insights into the length of time spent per page, how content is shared and where readers focus their attention. These analytics are generated by MongoDB, enabling editorial staff to make data-driven decisions, improving future content to better address reader preferences, including tweaking headlines and moving copy. TIL’s engine also provides unique content recommendations for readers, based on browsing habits. These features ensure the sites’ articles are reaching and engaging with the broadest possible audience.
Bajpai further added that they are focused on developer velocity. “How fast can we get this robust application live in the shortest amount of time? Our team built this engine in a fraction of the time it would have taken on any other database and then it scaled beautifully to help us understand and engage with millions of readers”.
Moreover, MongoDB is also used by TIL to cover its web properties on social platform, to upload stories and also for the e-commerce division on the sites for the content management system used by journalists. “It’s a constantly growing deployment that is currently scaled across nearly 50 MongoDB nodes,” explained Gyan Mittal, Senior Manager Central Technical Team, Times Internet Limited.
Live since 2011, TIL’s user analytics application uses MongoDB aggregation framework to execute powerful queries that drive visualizations and statistical models. This includes around 6 million aggregations across 2TB of data per day.
Virendra Agarwal, Technology Manager at Times Internet Limited, added: “It was a classic big data problem. A huge volume of data, a wide variety of data types and all coming in at an incredible velocity. On the flip side, we had demanding managers looking to understand quickly how our readers are engaging with the news. MongoDB was the solution that helped us turn heavy raw data into actionable insights that are fundamentally changing the way we deliver the news.”
The analytics application has become so critical for editorial staff that TIL now uses MongoDB Professional. Beyond simple break and fix services, production support provides regular check-ins with MongoDB engineers to review schema design, replication strategies and system optimization.