The IR Mobile Web Dwarfs Native IR App Usage
4 June 2013
By Darrell Heaps
In order to get a sense of how this is impacting online investor relations we wanted to do a comparison of the investor mobile web (accessing websites with mobile devices) vs. native IR apps (downloaded apps from an app store). The results very much speak to how investors access information through mobile devices today.
Mobile IR Website Traffic
Over the last few months we have seen a 15% increase in the amount of mobile devices hitting our client’s IR websites. But more importantly, is that this has virtually doubled since 2012. Our current projections are for mobile traffic to overtake desktop traffic sometime in 2014 and a balance of traffic to occur across desktops, tablets and phones.
In order to provide a sense of the total number of mobile IR web users, we used the number of listed companies on the NYSE and NASDAQ exchanges. Based on the total number of companies listed on these exchanges, we estimate roughly 50 million* IR website visits per month across all companies. With 15% of this being mobile, we estimate there are currently 6.5 million** mobile IR website visits per month. A sizeable audience to say the least.
* 5000 listed companies on NYSE & NASDAQ X 10,000 IR website visits per month on average = 50,000,000 IR website visits
** 15% x 50M IR Website visits = 6.5M mobile IR website visits.
Native IR Apps
In addition to the mobile IR web, we have started to see native apps offered for investor relations. Native apps are those that are downloaded from the Apple or Google App store and provide content similar to that found on IR websites, but in a downloadable app that is installed on the users device.
As IR apps have started to grow in popularity, however there has not (yet) been a large amount of investors downloading these apps. Recent research from Rivel says about 5% of investors (or 5 in their study of 222) had downloaded an IR app http://rivel.com/blog/?p=639 with upwards of 17% of investors expecting to download a company specific app in the future.
Knowing that we are still early on in the adoption curve, these lower adoption rates are not surprising. Having said that, from our IR app data usage, we have been seeing around 300 downloads per company on average. Certainly some companies have seen more than others, but we have found this is a good indication of current usage.
Doing a search on Apple’s App Store we see roughly 320 apps (iPad and iPhone combined) with the label “Investor Relations”. If we multiple 320 apps by an average of 300 downloads per company, there are 96,000 downloads.
Comparing Mobile IR Web to Native IR Apps
The chart below illustrates the adoption of the IR Mobile Web vs. IR Native Apps. 96,000 IR apps downloaded vs. 6,500,000 monthly IR website visits, equates to 99% of investor mobile use is through a browser, while 1% is through a Native App (based on our above estimates). Of course there will be overlap in this data, with investors visiting multiple websites and downloading multiple apps, and a combination of both. In addition, this doesn’t take into account apps that are downloaded and used infrequently, whereas the mobile web traffic is monthly.
We believe, the reason why the mobile web is so much larger than the adoption of native IR apps is simply that the mobile web is integrated into the workflow of how investors access information online. It’s just second nature whether they are responding to an email alert on their phone, clicking on a link on Yahoo finance, or accessing a website on a phone or a tablet.
This is not to say that there isn’t a place for native apps. Native apps provide the ability for investors to view content offline or have notifications on updates pushed directly to the device. However, the important thing to recognize is that the mobile web is significantly larger and we think will remain so for a long time.
Our advice is that companies should first ensure that their IR websites are able to provide a tablet and phone experience targeted to their users, as opposed to forcing investors to download and install something on their device. Your company’s IR website should respond to the device accessing it. Once this is taken care of, you can then evaluate whether providing a native app with additional functionality makes sense for your stakeholders.
Our view is that the best solutions are those that are integrated with how investors access information online today. Mobile is part of an investors workflow, so the best solutions are those that work within this workflow.