NEW YORK: Blogs, social networks and online video are the Web 2.0 tools which have provided the most benefits to companies looking to engage with consumers, a new study by McKinsey, the management consultancy, has found.

The company conducted an online survey among 1,695 executives from a wide variety of industries and regions, and with a range of different job functions.

It found that 69% of participants regarded Web 2.0 as having helped deliver "more innovative products and services, more effective marketing, better access to knowledge, lower cost of doing business and higher revenue."

More specifically, 52% of contributors agreed it had increased the effectiveness of their marketing, most particularly in terms of building awareness, followed by driving loyalty, and increasing consideration and conversion rates.

A further 43% said Web 2.0 played a key part in improving customer satisfaction, falling to 38% for reducing marketing costs, 24% for accelerating the launch of new products, and 22% for establishing more successful innovation programmes.

By media type, 51% of the sample regarded corporate blogs as having aided their efforts to connect with consumers, with 48% saying the same for video-sharing and social networking platforms, and 45% for RSS feeds.

Podcasts and "wikis" were accorded this status by 37% of executives, just a under a quarter of which thought tagging, ratings tools, and "microblogging" services like Twitter also had such a role.

Almost two-thirds of companies in the high-tech and telecoms sector had benefited from using Web 2.0 as a communications medium, falling to 60% in the business, legal and professional services sector, 37% in manufacturing, and 32% for financial services.

Some 54% of North American firms believed they had enjoyed positive results with clients thanks to adopting this strategy, compared with 47% of their counterparts in Asia Pacific, 46% in India, and 45% in Europe.

The most successful companies were distinguished, McKinsey argued, by the fact they used the growing range of interactive options to aid employee productivity and forge links with customers and suppliers.

Based on an analysis of its current and previous studies into the efficacy of this channel, the consultancy also found that the 20% of firms with the highest satisfaction levels also enjoyed 80% of the benefits.

This 20% included more than two-thirds of the corporations with the highest Web 2.0 adoption rates, and 58% of companies where these tools displayed the most pronounced impact on internal culture.

Data sourced from McKinsey; additional content by WARC staff