Editor’s note: This is one of 19 case studies featured in INMA’s strategic report “Smartphone App Lessons for Media Companies.” 

The Hindi-language daily newspaper Dainik Jagran engages its audience of more than 16.6 million readers with an array of apps for an assortment of purposes.

Of its 18 apps, eight are related to education issues, including apps for exams, such as the India General Knowledge Quiz, and education apps focused on languages, current affairs, and other topics. Dainik Jagran also offers a general news app, with almost all the content of its Web site available and updated constantly, in tandem with the site. It also has apps on popular topics such as entertainment and sports. 

Dainik Jagran’s parent company, the Jagran Prakashan media conglomerate, has shifted its strategic focus in response to the growth of mobile technology in India, where 50% of traffic to the company’s properties now comes from mobile. 

“The first access in India will be through a mobile phone rather than through the Web for most readers,” says Sukirti Gupta, chief executive of MMI Online, which manages Jagran Prakashan’s digital portfolio. By next year, the company expects that 60 to 65% of its traffic will be mobile. 

“They’re very, very key,” Gupta says of apps. “We’re actually now moving almost everything, because in India the traffic is moving pretty much to mobile, so we are just focusing 100% of our development effort on app development or mobile site development,” she says, adding that the company is no longer upgrading its Web sites. 

The shift has been sudden. Dainik Jagran launched its first app less than two years ago, and in 2015 made apps its primary focus. The media company’s new strategy is part of a broader embrace of mobile technology across virtually every sector of the Indian economy. 

“I think almost everybody in India is going mad, so I can’t even think of areas that people are probably not developing something,” she says. “There [are] a lot of shopping apps. There [are] a lot of wallet apps. You name it. In India, everybody knows that the market is going towards apps. Everybody is just right now looking at what to develop, how to get it downloaded. It doesn’t matter what it is.” 

All of Dainik Jagran’s apps are developed internally and are available for free download, with revenue coming from banner ads and efforts in progress to introduce full-screen ads that appear after a set number of page visits.

The company is still in an early phase of developing its apps, Gupta says, and it doesn’t yet have sophisticated user analytics. In looking at future mobile products, the company has focused its competitive strategy on the size of its apps, their speed in loading, and the functionality of the user interface — how quickly they allow users to find the content they want. 

Gupta’s team measures its success by the number of downloads, installations, and daily users, and on users’ time spent and the number of pages they visit. But one of the most important metrics is the user rating in the app store, she says: “The target the team has is that any app that’s below a 4.3 rating, we feel requires work.” 

The company would like to have a higher download-to-installation ratio, but it is at about the industry average and is satisfied with its installation-to-usage ratio. “For our news app, it’s a one-to-three ratio, so 25% of the downloads, people keep the app,” Gupta says. “Of the people that keep the app, one-third use it almost daily.”

The goal, of course, is to nudge those numbers up, to crack the difficult nut of user engagement.

“The question really becomes … how many apps will a reader have and how do you become part of those 10 apps that the reader really prefers to spend time on?” Gupta says. “I think everybody is figuring that out here.”