By Spencer Osborne
The head to head battle for obesity pill supremacy is just heating up. Weekly script numbers are telling just part of the story. While the battle at the pharmacy gets the most attention, there is a battle on the web as well. The web battle tells investors about what consumers are doing in searches, and just how popular the web sites for these companies are. Arena Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ:ARNA) and VIVUS Inc. (NASDAQ:VVUS) both have websites that directly relate to the anti-obesity drugs Belviq and Qsymia.
My intent is to update this saga weekly as long as the information remains relevant from an investment perspective. There are two ways that I measure web traction. One is from Alexa.com, a company that ranks sites based on web traffic, and the other is Google Trends, a service that tells us about web searches in general. First the Alexa data:
Last week we saw the global rank for Belviq.com was 1,313,462. Because the site is new we expect the traction to build and to see improvement in this number each week for several weeks. This week the global rank is 1,149,920. The pace of growth in rank has slowed quite a bit, but the traction is still positive. The goal is to get a site into the top 100,000, It is not an easy task.
The U.S. rank last week was 93,809. This week that metric improved to 79,825
Time on site fell from 2:17 last week to 2:15 this week
Average pageviews icreased from 1.7 pages per visit last week to 1.8 this week.
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 0.000087%. This week the reach is at 0.000100%. The reach is still increasing
The Qsymia site is more established and generates more data. Traffic rank declined from 284,636 to 298,934
The U.S. rank continued to drop going from 51,495 to 54,882.
Time spent on the site dropped from 3:44 to 3:07.
Pageviews fell from 2.6 to 2.5.
The reach for the Qsymia site shows a slight decline from 0.00044% to 0.00042%.
Google Trends gives data on how active a particular search term is. By using Google Trends we can see what type of buzz is surrounding these drugs. 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. Upon launch Belviq spiked above Qsymia. Over the last week, Qsymia has had the advantage over Belviq.
What we are seeing in the trends is that Qsymia and Belviq are virtually neck and neck in web searches, with Qsymia (the drug that has been on the market longer) carrying a slight advantage. Vivus does pay for a lot of advertising on Google. It would appear that the company sees good results from that advertising, as it does seem to trend higher in the web searches.
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.