Tarana Khan

‘Business Standard’ revs up online biz

‘Business Standard’ is keen on moving to the tough online subscription model and is pushing the service with a campaign

After a soft launch of its online subscription service six months ago, ‘Business Standard’ is ready to promote the service on a larger scale. The publication is offering its online readers premium services, including access to archives of articles and reports more than a month old.

The fee is Rs 149 per year for each of its eight verticals, including ‘The Smart Investor’, ‘The Strategist’ and ‘Opinion & Analysis’. Readers also have the option of choosing a partial subscription to two verticals at a discounted price. The publication is also offering weekly newsletters on each of the verticals at Rs 99 a year.

In an era where information is easily accessible on the web, it remains to be seen if ‘Business Standard’ can emulate online success stories in the media space, of which there are very few examples. There’s ‘Wall Street Journal’, of course, but even a behemoth like ‘The New York Times’ is grappling with its pay offering, Times Select.

In India, companies like ‘India Today’ and NDTV have taken a strategic u-turn, making their website freely accessible after unsuccessful attempts at online subscription. Other business publications such as ‘The Economic Times’, ‘Hindu Business Line’, ‘Financial Express’ and ‘Mint’ also offer free access to their archives.

‘Business Standard’ revs up online biz
‘Business Standard’ is counting on the quality of its information and the fact that the website receives more than a million unique visitors per month, says Arun Natesh, general manager, marketing, at ‘Business Standard’: “We believe that people are interested in a quality paper, even if it costs them to access it.”

Natesh adds that several lakh articles are available in the publication’s archives, which can be useful to researchers, academicians and corporate professionals. Now that the publication has sorted out its delivery platform for the online services, it is ready to aggressively promote them. Says Natesh, “The web is a new medium for us and we want to develop it into a revenue stream.”

A banner promotion is already up on the site and a campaign will follow in the newspaper and through email. The campaign will be handled by the creative agency Blank Slate.

‘Business Standard’ is clearly diversifying its operations in the online space. The website’s business model will be a judicious mix of advertising and subscription, says Natesh. The company has similar plans for its automotive magazine, ‘Motoring’, and its aviation industry magazine, ‘Open Sky’. Articles form ‘Motoring’ will be available as part of ‘Business Standard’ archives but there are plans to float a separate newsletter.

The publication has also quietly launched a travel site, www.bstravelbazaar.com and a shopping site, www.bsbazaar.com. There is no official announcement on these yet.

‘Business Standard’ is also working on a mobile application for its readers, which should be launched in a month’s time. It already has a short code (7007) for news updates, travel and shopping.

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