A cross-discipline IBM team helps a media company reduce delivery times for web and mobile news notifications from hours to seconds.
Russian media company Komsomolskaya Pravda—or “KP” as it’s commonly known—has seen a lot of changes in the 80 years since it was founded. Not only has the world in which it operates undergone seismic shifts, but the very nature of media has been radically altered, as many news outlets and readers have migrated from print to digital formats.
One thing that has remained constant for the company is the massive size of its customer base, currently numbering in the millions. And, to keep those customers engaged during the digital era, KP must continuously adapt to the latest technology trends.
That’s why, in 2006, the company moved its website to an infrastructure-as-a-service model hosted in an IBM data center in Russia. To expand its global reach and flexibility—and to store its entire 70+ year newspaper electronic archives and radio translation recordings using the beneficial redundancy of IBM Cloud Object Storage—KP eventually moved part of that infrastructure to the IBM public cloud hosted in its Germany regional zone. And, when KP wanted to deliver push notifications from its website to its customers alerting them to the latest “hot” news, it turned to IBM to provide a solution to do so.
A new push notification service
In 2017, KP adopted the IBM Cloud Push Notification service to send news updates to mobile devices and web applications. The service features personalization capabilities and the ability to segment audiences into a subset of users, a single user, or all users. It also enables companies to track notifications end to end, from the time a notification is sent to its receipt on a device or browser.
Over time, the popularity of the service resulted in a surge in subscriptions. By December 2019, the subscriber base had grown to 800,000—up from 350,000 in December 2017—and KP was sending approximately 30 million push notifications per month.
In the media business, timely delivery of news is essential to ensuring a high volume of digital ad click-throughs, which translates into the conversion-rate key performance indicators (KPIs) that are crucial to establishing competitive advantage. KP needed to be able to distribute more than one million push notifications within a few minutes to garner higher conversion rates than its competitors in the region, but with the rapid increase in subscriptions, the expected delivery time posed challenges.
IBM pulls out all the stops for push
IBM put together a team of developers, offering managers, executives, and others to address the challenges. The team worked closely with KP using an agile approach. The two companies held weekly standup meetings to share progress, make adjustments based on feedback, and determine next steps.
Another challenge was that the IBM team was located outside of the European Union. Due to GDPR regulations, the team was unable to directly implement changes and conduct performance tests in the IBM cloud data center in Germany. Instead, the team used the IBM cloud data center in the United States to do testing.
A happy client and a better solution
Ultimately, the intensive, collaborative effort paid off. The updated solution reduced the time it took to deliver push notifications to two minutes. The solution can deliver about one million pushes within a few minutes, and it pushes 30-35 million per month on average. In the process, KP has seen its conversion rate quadrupled.
For IBM, putting the needs of the client first has reaped rewards on multiple levels. Not only is the relationship with KP stronger than before, but the push notification updates have been applied globally and are benefiting all clients who are leveraging the offering.