Reuters' use of Streamway's webcast technology makes distributing its financial results cheap and easy
Broadcasting financial information to a global audience used to mean running expensive roadshows, firing off thousands of letters and emails, and a costly, time-consuming marketing effort to the media. In short, a carrier pigeon approach to communications that seems laughable now the era of webcasting has arrived.
And yet, reaching the right people quickly and simply has not been that well addressed -- until now.
A distribution service for streamed financial information by Anglo-Scandinavian streaming media development company Streamway, aims to change this. It will help companies maximise return on investment from investor relations (IR) events and other corporate announcements by reaching elusive or previously unreachable target audiences.
Designed for retail and institutional investors in the UK and mainland Europe, the Analyst Meetings service offers a combination of webcast production, cross-media marketing, and distribution for events such as quarterly, half-year and annual results as well as other corporate announcements.
In essence, Analyst Meetings is a financial calendar service specialised in streamed events. The service provides IR professionals with all their webcasting needs while simultaneously enabling investors, employees, and the media to take part in financial presentations.
Customers of Analyst Meetings can chose any media production company and any webcasting company for the distribution element as the technology is an open, Linux-based platform.
In practice, an event is captured on video and/or audio with Analyst Meetings managing the implementation process in terms of interface design, encoding and hosting. It also handles the authentication and registration of viewers.
The service then actively pushes the event to the target audiences before and after it takes place via on- and off-line marketing channels such as FT.com and The Financial Times.
To complete the picture, Analyst Meetings also distributes the information via Analystmeetings.com, FT.com, the company's own website and other online distribution channels so it can be accessed after the event. Follow up statistical reports are also compiled to show the effectiveness of the service.
Landing FT.com as a non-exclusive distribution outlet in time for the service's launch this past July is a real feather in Streamway's cap since it means that details of all events handled will automatically be placed in front of the 95% of professional UK investors who use that site.
'The FT will also be reselling our services,' says Dan Grapengiesser, the founder of Analyst Meetings and Streamway CEO. 'The benefits of having our services in combination with regulatory advertising delivers significant synergies. We'll be targeting the same clients with two different service -- one online, one offline -- which is very powerful.'
A further 50-60 distribution channels will also eventually carry events hosted by Analyst Meetings, including Multex and CCBN. To ensure all target audiences are reached, Analyst Meetings has already set up to send alert messages to 130,000 key investors on its own database, and 40,000 terminals sited at the likes of Reuters and Bloomberg.
'There are other services similar to ours, such as from Raw Communications and the teleconference service from CCBN, but I think we have significant unique selling points in our technology and distribution service both in terms of the connectivity and the broadband we provide, and the quality of the webcasting and distribution marketing service,' says Grapengiesser. 'Also, we cater for the whole European market, not just one or a few countries.'
He adds, 'What makes Analyst Meetings different to other distribution services of financial information is that it offers a combination of webcast production, marketing and distribution. The combination means that companies only have to deal with one service provider instead of two or three. It also meets their demands in terms of reach by marketing and distributing streamed financial information and other corporate announcements cost-effectively to institutional and private investors in the UK and the rest of Europe -- or anywhere, really, since the service is internet based.'
Grapengiesser is confident enough in his company's new offering to do deals with rivals. He is currently working with CCBN to extend its competitive service called Streetfusion into Europe, distributing the US company's US events in Europe.
The technical platform behind Analyst Meetings is currently used by companies such as Reuters, BP and the Financial Times, providing them with full support of live and on-demand video and/or audio webcasts. Only two companies have used the Analyst Meetings service so far - Reuters and the Halifax bank.
Reuters has been a Streamway webcast customer for two years. The company elected to broadcast its latest financial results using Analyst Meetings.
Prior to using Analyst Meetings, Reuters did not advertise its webcasts publicly. Initially, the company just contacted institutional investors and analysts and invited them to attend an event or tune in. Later, the media were added to the invitation list.
Aware that it needed to reach a wider audience still, Reuters began exploring webcast publicity services and looked at the Germany business newspaper's offering, Handelsblatt, and CCBN, as well as Analyst Meetings. Streamway's offering won because Reuters needed a service providing a wider geographical spread than the others could deliver.
'We wanted to broaden the marketing of our webcast, especially to the continental European shareholder base whom we usually have to visit several times a year,' says Samantha Coates, who works in Reuters' investor relations department. 'Europe is a huge potential marketplace. Germany, the Netherlands and France are our three core target areas, but we were finding it a difficult audience to tap into. Now, with our webcast going out on big European channels like FT.com we can increase the number of people aware of what we're doing and when.'
Coates adds, 'There was also the Security and Exchange Commission's Regulation FD in the background. We needed to make sure that everybody, private and institutional shareholders alike, were treated equally in terms of equal access to our financial information.'
Reuters is very pleased with the impact of using Analyst Meetings for its July financial announcement. Back in February, a similar webcast broadcast only on Reuters' own site attracted 500 pre-event registrations. Hosting the July event via Analyst Meetings doubled that figure. In addition, the number of people who subsequently listened to the July webcast increased by 30%, and Reuters adds that 'an impressively large' number also returned to catch the 'on demand' version of the webcast after the event.
'We paid £3,500 in marketing costs and it was money well spent -- for brand awareness if nothing else, 'says Coates. 'Each article carried Reuters' logo and there was a hyperlink into our site. The service was certainly good value for money for a major marketing programme.'
As global demand for easier access to financial and corporate information becomes ever more insatiable with advances in access technology, there can only be increased demand for services such as Analyst Meetings.
'The fact that it is a live as well as an 'on demand' service means that you can use it as an online resource to communicate to multiple groups reducing the pressure on Public Relations and IR departments,' says Grapengiesser. 'In my opinion that makes it a cost-reducing concept. It provides extra marketing potential, especially to investors outside the UK.'
He adds, 'The international investor market generally is growing and Analyst Meetings can help attract capital from abroad. The alternative is to conduct extensive roadshows outside the UK which is very expensive both in management and travel time. The opportunity cost of planning presentations, finding a venue, inviting an audience along and then flying people around is a lot of money. Using Analyst Meetings you can capture that event and make it available over and over again, and to an international audience.'
The technical benefits of Analyst Meetings, as cited by Streamway, are its ability to provide feedback statistics and information to customers so they can see how effective the service has proved for their particular event. The service also claims to offer very strong slide synchronisation elements and question and answer sessions, which Grapengiesser believes gives it technical edge.
Over the next 12 months, Streamway plans to consolidate its launch in the UK and firm up its partnerships while also keeping a weather eye on the European marketplace and signing up more big name resellers. On its target list of potential customers are analysts, 2,500 listed companies, and 1,500 firms holding events in London.
'Streaming Media Europe can be the first to know that we have just signed a partnership with The Brewery, the top London event venue, to do their streaming services,' says Grapengiesser. 'We should have a big uptake of the service through this partnership as they host over 1,000 events a year.'
He concludes: 'We're building a leading financial information channel for streaming media services and there are lot of things to come. I'm very optimistic about the future of the service.'Interested in this topic? Check out the Streaming Media Europe 2001 Enterprise conference track!