European, US company Web sites differ on audience served

LONDON: A new survey ranking the Web sites of 60 of the world's largest corporations shows a large gap between US and European companies when it comes to using the Web as a brand-building tool.

LONDON: A new survey ranking the Web sites of 60 of the world's largest corporations shows a large gap between US and European companies when it comes to using the Web as a brand-building tool.

According to the evaluation by Bowen Craggs, a British Web advisory firm, US companies tend to gear their corporate websites toward serving customers, at the expense of other stakeholders like job seekers, investors, and the media.

"The Americans obviously got to the Web first, and in a sense there's been a bit of leapfrogging going on," said David Bowen, a senior consultant for Bowen Cragg. "[US sites] have been allowed to grow up without a huge amount of control. The good news is they tend to be very customer-focused, but at the expense of overall brand control."

In Europe, by contrast, Bowen said that major companies have spent the past few years taking a closer look at how they can use their sites to serve a more diverse set of audiences. He noted that companies like BP and Siemens have also been effective recently in using their corporate sites as reputation and crisis management tools.

The top-ranked site was Siemens, followed by Royal Dutch Shell and BP. The top US site was IBM, at #7.

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