Q4 Web Systems launches web solution for mobile IR websites

Jun 10, 2013
<p>3 Screens offers optimum browsing across smartphones, tablets and computers</p>

A new IR website system, known as 3 Screens, has been launched by Q4 Web Systems, offering an app experience without the need for cumbersome downloads.

The new solution is largely a response to Q4 Web Systems’ launch last year of ‘native apps’, which must be downloaded and installed onto smartphones and tablets, explains Darrell Heaps, co-founder and CEO of Q4. Despite an ongoing increase in mobile web users accessing IR websites – in a Q4 blog, Heaps says the firm’s projections see mobile traffic overtaking desktop traffic sometime in 2014 – investors simply aren’t embracing apps.

Heaps says most of the native apps Q4 launched for IR teams were ‘not getting a high number of downloads. A lot of them were [downloaded] in the low hundreds over a number of months. The level of engagement inside the apps – in terms of how often they were being used by investors – was also very low.’

There are a number of reasons for this, explains Heap ‒ for one thing, many people simply aren’t heavy app users. But there’s also the issue that an institutional investor could be following 30-50 different stocks, and downloading such a large number of individual company apps would be impractical at the very least.

The ‘seemingly logical’ step is a ‘master app or portfolio app,’ says Heaps, but adds that this is also misguided. ‘I don’t think the way to solve the problem of no one downloading apps is to give them another app to download,’ he explains. ‘Investors don’t want to do anything new – what they want is information.

‘The web is that master app: all the information is there, already connected to their portfolios, to the profiles on Yahoo! Finance, to web links in Bloomberg, to stuff that’s being shared on social media, to email alerts.’

And that’s where the 3 Screens solution comes in. Rather than offering investors another app to download, the new service automatically detects which kind of device you’re using – that’s the simple bit, says Heaps. The ‘heavy lifting from a technical perspective’ came in trying to ‘ensure it’s going to deliver the content you’re looking for and that it’s all formatted into an app-like experience that works across all devices.

‘What we wanted to be able to do was to deliver that app experience but in line with how investors are accessing information with mobile devices today. So if someone is going to receive an email alert and click on [a link], or click on something in social media, they’re going to be able to get that great mobile app experience but without having to go and do something to experience it.’

There are differences in the level of information investors receive through each type of device, though. Looking at data from millions of hits across Q4’s websites, Heaps says the firm found people were using different devices for different kinds of web use. For example, cellphones are favored for real-time information – for the ‘most current information I should be interested in right now’ – while those using tablets, though also looking for up-to-date content, ‘also like to browse more and move through more layers of information,’ he adds. It is only when on a desktop or laptop that people go for deeper research, ‘things like digging into Excel, financials and SEC filings.’

These differences are reflected in the 3 Screens system, explains Heaps. ‘The desktop IR website has everything that’s always been there, but when you get into the tablet it’s a reduced amount of content delivered, targeted to that type of behavior, and then again on the phone.’ He adds, however, that users always get the option to go through to the full site.

While 3 Screens officially launched on Thursday, June 6, Q4 offered a soft launch to around 30 clients in April, and was fantastically successful, notes Heaps.

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