28 Jan 2010

Investis IQ Corporate Website Ranking Q4 2009 – websites still improving, but more slowly

Investis’ ranking of more than 650 corporate websites in the fourth quarter of 2009 shows the average score of European corporate websites continuing to improve – up 1% - although at a slower rate than in previous quarters. Consequently 2009 saw an average improvement of 11% over the course of the year – an impressive change in the context of the economic backdrop and the challenges faced by communicators during this unsettled period. The improvements were broadly-based across the companies and indices we follow, driven by a greater level of transparency and disclosure of corporate information and a steady improvement in CSR communications during the year. Our research shows that only about 10% of companies rebuilt their websites during 2009, less than half the long-term average.

As noted in our Q3 report, the biggest change in the year has been in the quality of the CSR sections of websites, reflecting the increasing importance of non-financial factors in corporate communications for public companies. Scores have been driven up by better reporting of performance against KPIs, more evidence of leadership from senior management and improved levels of interactivity in CSR reporting. With climate change issues likely to remain prominent and the website becoming the focal point for communication about a company’s impact in this area we expect this trend to continue in 2010 and beyond.

There is plenty of evidence of companies becoming more sophisticated in their use of the web medium to communicate. Scores in the Multimedia and Web 2.0 categories of our analysis saw two of the sharpest improvements during the year, especially amongst mid-cap companies in the UK and Germany. There was a particularly big increase in the use of interactive animations and corporate videos to explain a company’s business or services. We also saw leadership become more prominent with CEO videos and statements becoming more commonplace, especially in the UK. There remain, however, very few senior management blogs across Europe’s leading companies.

Highlights for Q4 in the index rankings

UK

FTSE100: Shell and Centrica remain the top ranked websites in the UK as they have done throughout 2009. Royal Bank of Scotland is the only new company in the top 10, rising four places to 7th. Of the companies entering the index in the September re-shuffle, Whitbread is the highest entrant at 39, while the other notable riser was Unilever up 18 places in the quarter. The four lowest ranked companies in the quarter are all in the Mining sector.

FTSE250: Our ranking of the FTSE250 covers only the top 100 websites and again this quarter there are a number of sharp movements. Arriva tops the rankings for the first time while Babcock (up 30 places), Game Group (up 59 places) and Keller Group (up 27 places) all rose on the back of new sites launched in the quarter.

Germany

DAX30: The DAX30 saw the biggest gain of any index in Q4 and was up 9% in 2009 overall. BASF retains top spot in Germany while Deutsche Bank rises to second place. Allianz enters the top 10 in 8th place, alongside Infineon in 9th place on its promotion to the DAX.

MDAX: EADS retained its position at the top of the rankings for the MDAX, while Hannover Re drops in to the number two position following its move from the DAX to MDAX. MTU was the biggest riser up 13 places to 21st in the ranking, while Bauer and Hugo Boss both rose 8 places.

Finland

OMXH25: Nokia continues to lead the index although Neste Oil closed the gap in second place with a 3 point rise in score. Stora Enso is now in third place while Nordea enters the top ten rising from 13th to 9th place.

The survey was conducted in the fourth quarter of the year based on index constituents at the beginning of October. The IQ Ranking is the most comprehensive and authoritative of its kind, assessing nearly 200 criteria in measuring website quality and performance. Investis now tracks more than 650 companies in its IQ Webscoring database each quarter, offering a unique view on the evolution of corporate websites for its clients and partners.

For more information on the IQ benchmarking service, please contact Joanna Smolka on joanna.smolka@investis.com , +44(0)207 038 9023 or visit http://www.investis.com/investis/aboutus/iqranking/.

@Investis