With the ability to aggregate information from other sources, of access to online and embedding technologies, and the functionality to present data-mining in a clear, graphic way, companies are now offering readers better ways to work with their annual report content.
The shift in the last decade from print to online annual reports is related to access to the Web and the nature of a company’s audience(s). Since the investors seem to have more experience understanding the integration of messaging across print and digital mediums, we have been witnessing companies putting more effort into their online offerings and less into their printed reports.
Online HTML reports still rule in terms of ease of use and navigation. About 32% of US companies publish an online HTML version of their report according to a 2010 Annual Report Trends poll from Craib and Blunn & Company. HTML annual reports load quickly, allow investors to copy and paste content, search and are accessible to those with vision and hearing impairments as well as allow those with mobile devices access to viewing.
Here are some trends and best practices we see that are happening with online reports:
Homepages are now information portals. Homepages of annual reports no longer just represent the covers of their printed counterparts. They have become portals with information tools, case study teasers and a feed of current company activity.
Pepsico’s annual report homepage features the company’s Twitter feed.
Fuji Film Holdings features an updated stock quote on the homepage of their 2011 annual report.
Motion helps add an emotional element to the corporate story. Video has been used more and more to offer a multimedia overview of company activities and messaging.
P&G published a very simple report that focused on product case studies. Video highlights product innovation and development through interviews with company employees and experts. Photography adds to the overall positive feel of the report.
Marriott International’s 2010 annual report features a video that features the year’s activities and property openings in video, which is combined with a shareholder letter and a review of financial highlights. It’s very lively.
In 2008, Lululemon created a full annual report in a video on Vimeo, with no interactive or print variations to their story. With senior management interviews and scenes of company initiatives, the message is delivered with a nice human touch. Posting the video on an social site like Vimeo, rather than hosting it on the company server allows investors to embed, link, and publicly share the company’s message easier.
Customization of viewing numbers is key. In terms of financials, readers are looking for selective historical snapshots. A data-rich interface such as SAP’s interactive chart feature which displays five-year charts for every mouse-over.
Eureko’s annual report features a chart generator that displays charts or graphs, depending on selected data and time range, and then allows the reader to download the specified information into an Excel or PDF file.
Randstad’s report offers the same type of chart generation.
The compelling corporate story which used to be printed is now delivered digitally to stakeholders, and what used to be flat, can now be molded in an intelligent manner. This is great to see as we continue to watch how reports evolve online.