Published on August 6, 2009
HOT TOP IC SPRING 09 THE ONLINE REPORT: WHY ONE SIZE DOESN’T FIT ALL Welcome to our latest re-think supplement that looks at the most recent developments in online annual reports. With the concept of best practice being an evolving area we wanted to take a step back, draw breath, and assess what has actually happened over the last six months in online ﬁnancial reporting. Richard Coope of salterbaxter identiﬁes 10 companies that use their online reports to solve different business-speciﬁc issues. He highlights emerging trends and provides perspective on what really matters for online reporting in 2009. Stuart Bartram of Aviva, shares why measurement and tracking is essential in developing a best-in-class online reporting programme. TE TH IN RE-THINK SUPPLEMENTS BA DE E JO www.salterbaxter-rethinktank.com The re-think supplements are regular feature pieces linked to our online research and debate forum, the re-think tank. The re-think tank is the place where commonly held views are challenged, new ideas ﬂourish and boundaries are broken. Because we have a strongly-held belief that most things can be better – they just need better insight, brighter ideas and more creative thought. You’ll ﬁnd articles, opinions and research on the big business and communication issues of the day, from sustainability to more effective digital marketing. Regular contributors include leading players and thinkers in all the ﬁelds we operate – so you’ll be in good company. GET I About salterbaxter TOUC N Established in 1998, salterbaxter is one of the UK’s leading creative consulting businesses. H We advise organisations on corporate branding, corporate responsibility, employee engagement, corporate reporting and digital programmes. If you would like to ﬁnd out more about us, please call or email Louise Dudley-Williams T: +44 (0)20 7229 5720. E: firstname.lastname@example.org JOIN THE DEBATE: www.salterbaxter-rethinktank.com
RICHARD COOPE : HEAD OF DIGITAL : SALTERBAXTER 1 DMGT DEMONSTRATES DIGITAL INNOVATION THE ONLINE REPORT: WHY ONE SIZE DOESN’T FIT ALL The issue: DMGT diversiﬁed away from UK newspapers to become a more international WE ARE LIVING THROUGH AN AGE OF FUNDAMENTAL CHANGE IN media business. Their reporting challenge was CORPORATE REPORTING AND THE COMPANIES ACT PROVIDES AN to communicate their digital innovation and how OPPORTUNITY TO CAST OFF THE RIGID CONVENTIONS OF THE they have moved from a traditional newspaper business to a diversiﬁed media company. PRINTED REPORT. MANY COMPANIES HAVE BEEN GRAPPLING WITH The approach: The site includes an interactive HOW BEST TO USE THIS NEW FREEDOM AND MAKE THE MOST OF Flash banner explaining their diverse business THEIR ONLINE FINANCIAL REPORTS. portfolio and long-term commitment to ‘Creating Media Brands That People Love’. The site ONE THING IS CLEAR – THE DAYS OF ‘ONE SIZE FITS ALL’ FOR includes a dynamic timeline and interactive CORPORATE REPORTING ARE OVER. PEOPLE WHO THOUGHT OF THE dividend chart showing how the business has progressed over ten years. ONLINE REPORT AS A BIT OF A HOLY GRAIL ARE REALISING THERE The result: DMGT are using speciﬁc interactivity IS NO SIMPLE SOLUTION. EACH COMPANY IS APPROACHING ONLINE to demonstrate innovation and strong REPORTING DIFFERENTLY AND FOLLOWING THE HERD IS NO LONGER performance. Only appropriate site tools are used to deliver their clear strategic message. DELIVERING THE BEST RESULTS. The investor response is positive with the report experiencing a 63% increase in new visits HERE ARE TEN CAREFULLY SELECTED EXAMPLES OF compared to last year. COMPANIES THAT HAVE USED THEIR ONLINE REPORTS http://www.dmgtreports.com/2008 TO SOLVE UNIQUE BUSINESS-SPECIFIC ISSUES. 5 SHELL PUTS REPORT FINANCIALS INTO CONTEXT 6 LEGAL & GENERAL SHOWCASE STRATEGY THROUGH THEIR SENIOR TEAM 7 INTEGRATING CR INTO BG GROUP’S CORPORATE REPORTING HUB The issue: 2008 was a year of turbulent global The issue: Legal & General’s challenge was to The issue: BG Group needed to consolidate their markets and extreme ﬂuctuations of oil prices. address their investor concerns over ﬁnancial approach to ﬁnancial and non-ﬁnancial reporting Against this uncertain backdrop Shell needed transparency issues. They had to demonstrate to help investors truly assess their overall to explain their overall performance within a clear strategic approach and showcase the business performance. They also wanted to a long-term strategic context for investor strength of their leadership team. provide other shareholder information to provide audiences. The approach: The report homepage shows a a broader context to business performance. The approach: The new site has a simpliﬁed revolving carousel introducing the Executive The approach: BG Group have developed a navigational structure. A useful download management team in video format. Clicking on corporate reporting hub, using a single microsite manager includes detailed Excel spreadsheets the images directs users to video introductions with consistent navigational principles, that allowing investors to review the raw ﬁnancial data. that explain how the business has been incorporates the Annual Report, Corporate This year the site tools include a ‘Compare to performing. The theme of leadership and a Responsibility Report, Summary Financial 2007’ button, allowing analysts to review cautious approach to risk management is Statements and AGM information. year-on-year performance data. followed throughout the report. The result: The online reporting centre is a The result: Shell clearly worked hard to make The result: The appropriate use of video creates unique example of how a combined approach the report information as readable as possible. a sense of transparency, responsibility and can be used to communicate key reporting Shell sets the report into an appropriate personal accountability in Legal & General’s material to stakeholders. It provides a single context by providing useful supporting material, strategic management. It also clearly shows point of reference and is a fully integrated such as a guide to the Financial Statements, a uniﬁed management team putting strategy approach to reporting for investors. a ‘Chart Generator’ and Excel downloads for into action. http://www.bg-group.com/OnlineReports/ara/ the Financial Statements. http://legalandgeneralgroup.com/ara_2007/ index.html http://www.annualreview.shell.com/2008/ servicepages/welcome.html servicepages/keyﬁgurescomparison.php CT CONTA CONTACT: email@example.com : salterbaxter, 202 Kensington Church Street, London W8 4DP. T: +44 (0)20 7229 5720 US JOIN THE DEBATE: www.salterbaxter-rethinktank.com
2 AVIVA RECOGNISES RETAIL INVESTORS WANT SOMETHING DIFFERENT 3 VODAFONE CREATES CLARITY FROM COMPLEXITY 4 USERS ARE KEY FOR THE BRITISH LIBRARY The issue: Integration was the main issue Aviva The issue: With the printed report running at The issue: The British Library’s remit is broad had to deal with this year. Financial information 160 pages, Vodafone’s Director of Corporate and their user groups diverse. They needed had to be collected from 27 different countries Affairs, explained that the challenge for the to identify new ways to show how the expertise worldwide, whilst the business re-branded under online version was ‘not to let the weight of all and knowledge gained by users transformed the ‘one Aviva, twice the value’ proposition. that information obscure the message… people into tangible solutions. The approach: Aviva kept it simple. The report need to ﬁnd the information if they want to drill The approach: The online report features video has an intuitive navigation and easy to read down further’. clips of the Library’s users talking about how interface design. There is a speciﬁc section The approach: Vodafone has worked hard to the Library inspires and supports them. The addressing retail investor concerns, called tell a complex story simply to their institutional Chief Executive’s video statement offers a ‘Recognising the needs of our customers’ investors. The homepage is presented within a behind-the-scenes insight into how the Library and a private shareholder section for future portal interface, providing quick access to deeper works. Report readers can also ‘Add a comment’ e-communication. Users can also download content. The excellent ‘Business Overview’ or use an interactive poll to respond to the their own report pack and review the Financial depicts in simple design terms how the Vodafone report content. Statements in Excel format. business is structured and how the international The result: The British Library has won the The result: Aviva has cleverly thought through operations connect. Best Annual Report (Public and Voluntary the requirements of their retail and institutional The result: Vodafone provided page-turning sector) at the Accountancy Age Awards for the shareholders. The structure, content and PDFs in the past, however institutional investors last three years. Many listed companies are now functionality of the site has integrated well with required a more bespoke approach. The latest incorporating these interactive techniques to the new Aviva brand. See Stuart Bartram’s article online report adds clarity and context for these engage report users. overleaf for more details. investors and provides simple options to explore http://www.bl.uk/about/annual/2007to2008/ http://www.aviva.com/ﬁles/reports/2008ar/index. deeper content. asp http://www.vodafone.com/static/annual_report/ index.html 8 TELIASONERA EMBRACES MULTILINGUAL MULTIMEDIA 9 CENTRICA MAKES IT CLEAR AT FIRST GLANCE 10 BARCLAYS BRAVELY OPENS UP TO EXTERNAL SCRUTINY The issue: Teliasonera is a mobile and ﬁxed The issue: The challenge for Centrica was to The issue: Barclays has come under intense network services provider to the Nordic and encourage private shareholders to view this year’s pressure for greater disclosure from regulators Baltic countries. As a dual listed company on the Annual Report online. The focus was to clearly and investors alike. The challenge for the bank NASDAQ OMX and Helsinki stock exchange it explain the Chief Executive’s strategy to be the was to be more open and transparent to rebuild needed to ﬁnd innovative ways to communicate leading integrated energy company to both shareholder conﬁdence, in particular to the its report content in multiple languages to specialist and non-specialist investors. bank’s approach to risk management. international investors. The approach: Centrica focused on keeping The approach: The latest online report includes The approach: The online report is published their report simple to read and easy to navigate. remarkably frank videos from the Chairman and in English, Swedish and Finnish. The report It includes a clear and simple overview of CEO. Users are welcomed to the site and provides an audio commentary making it Centrica’s integration strategy using an intuitive immediately asked for their opinions. The site accessible to an international audience. An Flash animation. The ‘At a Glance’ section includes an excellent ‘Your view’ section where interactive map provides country speciﬁc data, provides a snapshot that explains the integrated users are asked to post questions directly to the in particular their expansion into the emerging nature of their business. Chairman. It provides FAQs, a site survey and an markets of Russia, Turkey and Spain. The result: The online report skilfully balances invitation to join a shareholder workshop to help The result: Incorporating regional differences into the needs of both retail and institutional Barclays improve their future online reporting. one online report structure makes the report a audiences. It succeeds in this by helping The result: Barclays have taken the leadership unique experience for online audiences. Expect investors to ‘self-serve’ the information they step of opening up to external scrutiny. This more international companies to use multilingual need through clear information architecture, brave approach is likely to set a precedent for multimedia like this in 2009. supportive FAQs and helpful additional future online reports and reﬂects their overall http://www.teliasonera.com/annualreport/2008 shareholder information. It is also reassuringly external tone to these unprecedented times. easy to navigate. http://www.barclaysannualreport.com/ar2008 http://www.centrica.com/ﬁles/reports/2008ar CT CONTA CONTACT: firstname.lastname@example.org : salterbaxter, 202 Kensington Church Street, London W8 4DP. T: +44 (0)20 7229 5720 US JOIN THE DEBATE: www.salterbaxter-rethinktank.com
THE ONLINE REPORT: WHY ONE SIZE DOESN’T FIT ALL CONTINUED STUART BARTRAM : SENIOR MANAGER, CORPORATE INTERNET & DESIGN : AVIVA PLC SO WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM GOOD TO GREAT: FROM THESE OBSERVATIONS? 1. You can’t achieve everything, so focus on what matters to your business HOW SITE ANALYTICS and its stakeholders – each company has a different investor proﬁle and a unique business issue that needs solving. Companies clearly need a ARE HELPING TO tailored approach and should evolve a reporting programme over time. 2. Don’t forget to tell your story – ﬁnd compelling ways to explain your IMPROVE AVIVA’S report narrative online. Flash animations, interactive maps and multimedia help to bring that story to life. Keep your messages consistent and relevant. ONLINE REPORTING Consider contextual information for your retail audiences, where appropriate. AT AVIVA WE ARE KEEN TO CONSTANTLY IMPROVE 3. Deliver what investors want quickly – investors are impatient so make it easy for them to ﬁnd the information they need. Focus on usability and OUR ONLINE REPORTING, AND MEASUREMENT provide additional format options, such as Excel downloads of Financial PLAYS A KEY ROLE IN HELPING US UNDERSTAND Statements, to help analysts compare performance within your sector. If HOW READERS USE OUR HTML ANNUAL REPORT. budget is limited then use simple PDFs, but avoid the dynamic page-turning PDFs at all costs (they’re not compliant with accessibility guidelines). FEEDBACK AND USER TRACKING ALSO PLAY A PART IN DETERMINING 4. Integrate – look at simple ways to integrate your suite of reports into a Corporate Reporting Centre with a distinct URL (ie. www. WHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHEN. barclaysannualreport.com). Be consistent with the information you share and provide quick links to contextual investor information. Visitor numbers to our online annual report has consistently risen and since 5. Measure success – spend time to understand how investors use your 2005 visits have been up 52% year-on-year. The 2008 online annual report report. Track where they have come from (Registrars email, from your own site received 19,719 unique visits, or to put this in context, this amounted to site, Google search, etc.) and research for how long they stay on your site. 2.5 visits every hour of every day. Interestingly, 75% of people visiting the Aviva online annual report site also downloaded the PDF of the printed report. That tells us that investors still FINALLY A FEW WORDS OF CAUTION want to refer to a paper version, no matter how compelling the interactive features of the report are. Don’t be seduced by distracting ‘bells and whistles’ – avoid unnecessary functionality that detracts from the user experience. Technology should The most popular area of the report site, after the homepage, was the be used to help the user gain a better understanding of the company. ﬁnancial statements, followed by the overview and business review. As the ﬁnancial section was the most visited area of the site we felt it was Watch out for website restrictions – many companies suffer from restrictive important to provide this section in a compelling way for this specialist corporate website templates that make their report content difﬁcult to audience. Unsurprisingly, the ability to view the ﬁnancial statements in navigate. Consider developing a report microsite independent from the Excel was popular amongst institutional investors. corporate website. How users get to the online report is also revealing. We know 74% of trafﬁc Be clear who reads your report online – work on building a long-term to the report was directed from the corporate site. This tells us that we need engagement with your shareholders through your e-communications. Offer to make the report link as prominent as possible on the corporate surveys, ask for feedback and run usability workshops to understand what homepage. Whilst the initial visit length to the site was good it was felt more investors really want to see from future online reports. could be done to make the content more relevant for returning visitors. Avoid a tick box approach – ticking the so-called best practice boxes for In response to user feedback we have made sure the corporate and investor online reports without due consideration to your unique business issues sections are both aligned with the annual report and accounts story. We will only lead to investor disappointment. have also provided contextual links throughout the corporate site to help increase trafﬁc to the report and show how the performance of the business Reassuringly the approach to online reporting is now starting to reﬂect the is integral to the corporate structure of our main website. various audience needs and the different problems that companies want to solve. We expect to see a marked improvement in the quality of online By measuring statistical results we know that access to the online report reporting in 2009. Best practice will eventually emerge but it will be based was both wide and deep, with report users entering and exiting through the on online innovations that are appropriately used to enhance stakeholders’ main site. The feedback we get is helping us to keep it simple and provide overall experience and understanding of a company’s strategy. investors with content in the most appropriate ways. Reviewing site analytics and understanding our users’ online behaviour is providing us with valuable insight to improve our overall online reporting programme. These types of metrics are not the ‘be all and end all’ for us, but we know they give us deep insight into how readers actually use the online report. N TI About salterbaxter GE UCH Established in 1998, salterbaxter is one of the UK’s leading creative consulting businesses. TO We advise organisations on corporate branding, corporate responsibility, employee engagement, corporate reporting and digital programmes. If you would like to ﬁnd out more about us, please call or email Louise Dudley-Williams T: +44 (0)20 7229 5720. E: email@example.com JOIN THE DEBATE: www.salterbaxter-rethinktank.com
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