BEIJING: Audi, Burberry and BMW are the high-end brands showing how best to utilise digital media in China, a new study has suggested.

L2, the specialist consultancy, assessed 100 leading brands in the category, based on their own websites, social media presence, digital marketing campaigns, mobile strategies and levels of online buzz.

Audi, the automaker, took the top spot on 170 points, rising from fourth last year, and now running accounts on six social platforms including Renren, Sina Weibo, Tencent Weibo, Youku and Kaixin.

The German firm also offers a range of Chinese-language apps, including one product that gives users a virtual "tour" of its A8L model. Audi also has a mobile-optimised website, and enjoyed considerable success with the "Audi Driving Experience" campaign.

Burberry, the apparel group, was second on 157 points. It is currently active across five social sites, allows ecommerce purchases from the web and mobile, live streams fashion shows and utilises touchscreens and iPads in stores.

Third place went to BMW, the carmaker, on 155 points, combining a strong social and mobile presence with enthusiastic fans, who have posted 31,800 unofficial clips on online video platform Youku.

Only the top three players attained "genius" status, awarded as their digital endeavours have helped them achieve a differentiated position in the market.

Nine brands were "gifted" - or experimenting, and gaining ground - led by Volvo, the car marque, on 133 points, and Benefit Cosmetics on 127 points. Cadillac, another automaker, and Estée Lauder, the beauty specialist, followed on 124 points apiece.

Overall, 89% of the brands monitored by L2 are active on Sina Weibo, falling to 22% for Youku, 14% for Tencent Weibo, 13% for Kaixin, 9% for Douban and Tudou, and 7% for Renren.

Some 88% of official websites were discovered to be available in Chinese and 85% hosted tools to locate retail stores, but a modest 20% offered ecommerce functionality, according to the study.

On mobile, just 19% of firms possessed Chinese-language iPhone applications, declining to 6% for the iPad and 3% for Google's Android. More broadly, 14% had developed a mobile site in Chinese.

Elsewhere, 71% of companies appeared first in Google's search rankings when their name was entered in Chinese, but figures fell to 31% for Baidu, the country's leading search engine.

Data sourced from L2; additional content by Warc staff