Excellence in digital reporting 2018

Excellence in digital
reporting 2018

The future of corporate reporting is digital. Compared to other formats (print and PDF), the advantages of HTML reports are the screen- and mobile-optimised presentation, the connection of content, a high findability via search engines as well as multimedia and interactive functions.

Online reports offer dozens of possibilities for companies to improve the information and communication quality of their reports. In our excellence research we evaluate the status quo of digital reporting and present best practice examples.

Overview of results

In total 240 (44%) of the analysed international top companies already publish a digital annual report. The leading industries are Banking, Telecommunications and Oil & Gas. About 37% already publish a full HTML report.

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Online reporting approach

full html

All content of the report is available in the HTML version

hybrid html

Some content of the report is available in the HTML version, some only in the PDF

html super summary

Only a short overview of the report is provided in the HTML version

Top 10 markets with digital reports

top industries

Top 5 industries with digital reports

  • banking
  • telecommunications
  • oil & gas
  • personal and household goods
  • healthcare

online reports analysed

best practices

Storytelling & magazine

Apart from providing regulatory information, online reports offer a lot of possibilities for storytelling. The following are best practice examples from the 2018 reporting season.

Clariant: Let’s talk numbers

Clariant has turned something very obvious into something special: They put numbers in the centre of their concept. This is also reflected in the “stories behind the numbers” (magazine part). Clariant wants to tell the successes, failures, lessons learned, experiences, accomplishments and impacts behind these stories.

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Merck: Illustrative storytelling

The magazine stories within the Merck Annual Report are full of animated illustrations and cinema graphs, which pop up while scrolling. This magazine was really thought through for the screen: a lot of white space, large images and not too much information at once.

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TUI Group: Holiday feelings

Holiday feelings are on the rise whilst visiting the TUI Group online report. The user is picked up in front of a fantastic Caribbean scenery with a cinema graph effect. Through several digital stories with interactive features the report underlines the promise of the company: “We open up New Horizons”.

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Symrise: Each story is different

Symrise also offers a great example of digital storytelling. The stories in the online report are enriched with cinema graphs, moving elements, sliders and animated infographics. Since every story looks different, reading through the magazine does not get boring.

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best practices

Landing page and accessibility

In an ideal world a “classic” landing page should present the company and report identity, offer “calls-to-action” to the report content and provide an overview of the fiscal year. However, there are also alternative approaches.

Bayer: Quick Finder

How can users find the information they are searching for as fast as possible? Bayer’s answer to this question is the Quick Finder: A personalised and relevance-based search function showing the most important pages on a specific topic within the report.

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Sopharma: Less is more

“Less is more” could be the motto of the Sopharma landing page. The page presents different company developments at a glance in front of visually appealing full-screen images underlining the company identity. Through various points of interaction users can discover more information about key figures, and the company’s strategy and values.

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Geberit: Clean & intuitive

The Geberit online report always ranks among the best of the year. The landing page comes across clean and intuitive. It’s a mixture of slow animation effects and well-structured calls-to-action. A best practice is the filter map, which leads users to the report topics.

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SEA: First impression counts

Full-screen background images, animations and transitions characterise the landing page of the SEA Annual Review. With little text and many visual impressions users are guided into the contents of the report.

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Orange: Time is limited

How much time can you spend for reading our report? 1, 5 or 15 minutes? This is a decision users have to take on this landing page. Depending on their answer they will receive specific pieces of information, ranging from short videos to a “quick read” content overview.

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PGNiG: Pick a card

The idea of showing content in the form of cards and tiles is not a new one in terms of web design (e.g. Pinterest), but you don’t see it very often in online reports. This report is a perfect use case. Teasers in the form of cards are shown on huge background images.

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best practices

Integrated and Sustainability Reporting

The web is the perfect publication channel for Integrated and Sustainability Reports. Digital reports offer solutions to reduce the complexity of corporate reports; for example by connecting content via cross-linking or adding value with interactive and animated solutions.

Generali: Value creation

The Generali online report offers an animated graphic on the company’s value creation. It shows the connections of capitals, in- and outputs. The graphic also functions as an alternative navigation and guides users through the value-related content of the report.

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Solvay: Value creation

The Solvay Integrated Report 2017 chooses a presentation of the value creation approach that is based on the IIRC model: The interactive graphic directly links to the resources Solvay uses, the business model, markets and the created value. The graphic contains lots of calls-to-action which lead users to further information within the report.

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Shell: Interactive SDG wheel

Shell presents their contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals in an interactive infographic. The interactive wheel is clickable, and shows information and links to each of the relevant SDGs.

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Schaeffler: Related information

In the online sustainability report of Schaeffler, related information is offered at various points and in several different ways. At the top of a page users will find information on relevant SDGs, as well as information on GRI, UNGC and NFR standards at the bottom of a page – all linked to a specific source of information.

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Telia Company: GRI index

Instead of choosing a more traditional format, such as narrow tables, Telia Company presents their GRI index on different sub-pages. In this way the full content width can be used and the provided information is perfectly readable. Also, the content is fully responsive on mobile devices.

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best practices

Interactive Infographics

Interactive infographics and illustrations are often used to contrast with the predominant amount of text in online reports. They offer users a welcome change and increase the awareness for individual report topics.

Philips: Global and regional overview

Philips offers a lot of financial and non-financial data implemented as an interactive world map. Users can choose between looking at the data from a global, regional or market-based perspective.

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DATEV: Artificial intelligence

DATEV made use of an animated infographic to explain how artificial intelligence improves the digital bookkeeping processes. The animation is an important part of this infographic and helps to communicate the process in just one graphic instead of having to display every state step by step.

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BMW: Financial highlights

In form of a speedometer BMW illustrates the most important financial highlights of the year 2017. Users decide if they want to see the developments on autoplay or via scrolling.

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Cementir Holding: Regional data

An interactive world map in the Cementir Holding Annual Report shows the most important data on plants all over the world. Photos and the key data of each plant appear in a layer.

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ProSiebenSat.1: Illustrative infographic

In the ProSiebenSat.1 Annual Report 2017 you’ll find quite a few illustrative 3D animations. This example shows an animated and interactive illustration, which is actually a video. It also serves as a navigational tool guiding the user through the segment information. By clicking the plus sign a teaser leading to the respective content page opens up.

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best practices

Moving images

Multimedia content can enrich any online report. Highlight videos, for example, can sum up the most important company developments. CEO videos on the other hand can give the classical board letter more character and increase its authenticity.

Triodos: Hands-on

The CEO video in Triodos’ Annual Report is a mixture of an interview and a working situation. The CEO appears very natural, the message is to-the-point and hands-on. With just one minute, the CEO video is brief and easy to consume.

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adidas: Perspective counts

The adidas CEO video relies on short and fast key figure animations, which totally fit to the brand image. The CEO is filmed from various perspectives, including close-ups, guaranteeing that users don’t lose attention.

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HHLA: Dynamic harbour

The HHLA CEO video is a mixture of interview passages combined with footage material from the port of Hamburg. Accompanying key figure animations support the video's message and direct the viewer’s focus to the most relevant developments of the financial year.

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PZU: To the point

Next to a CEO video PZU also published a highlight video. In about 3 minutes users can get an overview of the most relevant developments and key figures of the fiscal year.

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Telefonica: Behind the scenes

Telefonica works with behind the scenes material and footage from working situations. The CEO is shown from different angles, in an attractive setting and in front of a very clean background.

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best practices

Report communication

Report communication is something most companies do not think about. That’s why we decided to dedicate a whole category to this activity. Social media and other digital channels offer a variety of possibilities to attract the attention of your stakeholders.

Bayer: Animated GIFs

With the use of animated GIFs Bayer attracts the attention of their stakeholders on Twitter, Facebook and other channels. The brief GIFs inform about the company’s performance and key highlights. They are also connected with the online report, which contains more detailed information.

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Schaeffler: Communication on SDGs

The German automotive company Schaeffler has run a whole social media campaign for their Sustainability Report 2017. Animated GIFs, goal cards and video teasers promote various content elements and the magazine of the online version.

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PwC: CEO message on Social Media

Neither the video quality nor the concept is the reason why PWC’s CEO video made it into our best practice ranking. But it is one of the very few videos produced in a specific format which is suitable for social media channels: The video is optimised for mobile devices, very short and equipped with subtitles.

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Out of the box

The possibilities and creative ideas for digital reports are limitless. This is proven by the following examples of online reports we have found from all around the world. Have a look yourself.

PUMA: Fastest annual report

This is an excellent creative idea: Olympic athlete and PUMA advertising legend Usain Bolt takes the user through the entire online report in just 9.58 seconds. For good reason PUMA can call this the “fastest annual report in the world”.

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Merck: WhatsApp chat

The magazine of the Merck Sustainability Report evolves around the topic “stakeholder dialogue”. In each story a Merck employee and a stakeholder discuss a specific topic. The dialogues are presented as an interactive WhatsApp chat, where participants share messages, links, pictures and videos. But not only that – readers can even choose the next topic of the chat.

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Zalando: Chat bot

“Enjoy creating your own report, personalise your reading experience and discover what’s next.” This promise is fulfilled by Zalando’s online annual report. Even the eyes and mouth of the chat bot can be defined individually. Only in terms of usability you will find yourself lost sometimes, searching for the “hard facts” within the report.

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China Unicom: 360° galaxy

Wow, this is fancy. You will definitely remember China Unicom’s online annual report. But maybe not in terms of the best user experience and usability. On the report landing page you will find yourself in the middle of a 360° galaxy that invites you to discover facts and figures from the fiscal year. Have fun!

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About this research

Database of companies analysed

Our research covers more than 500 companies and their reports from 13 different countries.

Included are companies from the following equity indices: AEX-Index (Netherlands), ATX (Austria), BEL 20 (Belgium), CAC 40 (France), DAX 30, MDAX, TecDAX (Germany), FTSE 100 Index (UK), FTSE MIB (Italy), IBEX 35 (Spain), OMX Stockholm 30 (Sweden), OMX Helsinki 25 (Finland), RTS (Russia), SMI (Switzerland), WIG 20, mWIG 40 (Poland).

In the best practice section, we also show report examples from other markets.
All reports can also be found in the Online Report Database.

Go to the Online Report Database

The Excellence in digital reporting research and the Online Report Database are joint projects between Message Group and nexxar.

is an Italian company that works on online IR and digital Corporate Communication. MESSAGE helps its customers, mostly industrial and financial groups with international operations, to effectively address their stakeholders and communicate their brand through the digital environment.


devotes itself entirely to digital reporting. Since 2003 the Austrian company has published more than 600 digital reports. nexxar are experts in shaping corporate reports to meet the needs of the digital world. From creative concept to go-live they currently accompany more than 40 top clients from 8 countries with true skills and a deep passion for digital reporting.


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