Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Trouble for US IR Sites?

The latest statistics from Alexa (via IR Web Report) show that traffic to Thomson's IR sites ( have hit an all time low. With a large number of US blue chips and mid cap companies using Thomson, along with the recent run up in the S&P 500, one would expect a positive correlation between page views and stock price. However, the latest statistics do not corroborate this. It seems that investors are turning more to blogs (like Seeking Alpha and tons of other blogs talking about industry, companies, products, etc), portals (like Yahoo! Finance) and message boards/social networks (like Stockpickr and Bullpoo) for their information. Is it a Web 2.0 thing? Doesn't appear to be, as Dominic Jones also notes that European companies' traffic is hitting an all time high.

What is happening here? I think its a few fold. The web is becoming more dynamic and static 'push' sites like Thomson's are just not cutting it. Investors would like a voice and an opinion in what is going on and the blog makes for a perfect forum for it. Social networks like stockpickr and bullpoo have become increasingly popular. Everyone wants to know what everyone else thinks. (I hate to bring it up again, but the Wisdom of Crowds effect.) Further, social networks give everyone an equal footing to be judged based solely on performance. Portals like Yahoo! Finance are not "Web 2.0" ified but then again, its been a staple since pre-Web 2.0 days. WHAT? What I mean is that "if it ain't broke, don't fix it." Another example: Bloomberg. In my opinion most traders are using Bloomberg as an instant messaging platform. Why? Because they've been using it since pre-email and they are comfortable with it. People have been using Yahoo! Finance since Web 1.0 and they have all of their data inputted and so forth (and since its customized, techincally it could be Web 2.0).

Investors relying on third party information like this is truly dangerous. As an IR/PR/Marketer you have no control over what message is being broadcast to the investment community about you. What to do about this? Well, as I mentioned before, about 5% of the Fortune 500 has a blog, and yes we are still waiting for the SEC ruling on Reg FD. However, its clear that instant gratification/communication is what the investment community wants, not day old or even half day old IR information. While it may mean more communication, I think that in the long run investors will be won over and you'll be able to broadcast your true message.

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