By Spencer Osborne
Arena Pharmaceuticals’ (NASDAQ:ARNA) recent launch of the anti-obesity drug Belviq, joining VIVUS (NASDAQ:VVUS), the provider of Qsymia, we now have two companies and can see progress and trends on the web. Before anything else, I need to state that Qsymia.com has had a web presence much longer than Belviq.com. Therefore there is more data to work with on Qsymia than with Belviq.
My intent is to update this saga weekly as long as the information remains relevant from an investment perspective. Right now I feel it is relevant as it gives investors an idea of consumer traction. As we know, it is sales that matter. Bear in mind that a good goal on Alexa data is to be in the top 100,000 sites. I have done it on several occasions with my own site, but it is not an easy task.
What a difference a week makes when a website is new. Last week Arena had a global rank of 2,837,267 which is not a bad start, but not an impressive number by any stretch of the imagination. I expected to see vast improvement, and that is exactly what happened. The rank this week according to Alexa is 1,989,359.
The U.S. rank last week was 230,662. This week that metric improved to 145,677
The average time on site has improved to 2:24 from 2:17. Thus, not only are more people visiting, but they are also spending more time on the site.
Average pageviews has also improved from 1.6 pages to 1.7.
The most important category is reach. This number represents the percentage of the web using population that sees the site. Last week Belviq was at 0.000035%. This week the reach is at 0.000053%. It may not seem like much, but indeed the number is improving.
The Qsymia site is more established and generates more data. Traffic rank improved from 298,888 to 288,736.
The U.S. rank lost a bit and went from 50,502 to 20,900.
Time spent on the site improved from 3:40 to 3:48.
Pageviews have improved from 2.7 to 2.8.
The reach for the Qsymia site shows a slight decline from 0.00051% to 0.00047%.
Another interesting source of data is Google Trends. Google is kind enough to let people see a bit into the world of the web. With Google Trends, even though neither anti-obesity drug site is setting records, we can do a side by side comparison. As you can see in the 90-day chart below, Qsymia has had more web traction all the way until Belviq launched on June 7th.
The spike upon launch for Belviq would naturally be expected. What some may not have expected, but is actually quite common was that the competing site (in this case Qsymia) will see a spike as well. Ironically, within about a week of launch, the Google search interest on the two drugs reverted to Qsymia having more web traction. I attribute this partly to the fact that Vivus, the company behind Qsymia, has spent months buying and working on getting its drug top billing on Google searches. The fact that Vivus was able to garner increased interest, and then retake the web battle within a week of the Belviq launch is a tribute to the IP folks at Vivus.
Perhaps more interesting is the recent huge spike in the search term obesity. It had actually been trending down over the last 90 days until the AMA voted to classify obesity as a disease. That classification has potential to help both Arena and Vivus, as it empowers consumers and makes the argument for insurance coverage stronger. The other positive we can see by looking at this chart is that obesity is widely searched, and as yet Vivus and Belviq are just scratching the surface. That would imply opportunity.
In summary, tracking web data can be a valuable tool for investors. It is easy to do, and the data does not spin anything. The results are there in a chart right in front of you. I will be reporting on web traffic data here on Market Playground each week.
Spencer Osborne is a partner in SiriusBuzz.com and SiriusBuzz Premium, a website dedicated to discussion about SiriusXM Satellite Radio. He also writes exclusive articles for Seeking Alpha on a wide range of companies. Osborne brings researched based facets of companies to light that investors may want to consider.