Places have been promoting their attractions throughout history for almost a century now and place marketing started capturing the attention of economic researchers in the early 1990s. Although the globalized space has become a major interdisciplinary field of study in the past few decades, we still do not have a definite solution for measuring or predicting the changes it brings. The aim of this study is to propose an instrument to help scholars quantify the Web 1.0 and Web 2.0 components of the online presence of place brands and their spatial dynamics in a broader global context. By taking the ‘space of flows’ approach to frame globalization, we questioned whether geography is still destiny in the context of online place branding communication. To answer the question, we developed a category grid and applied it in the content analysis of 82 official country websites. We found that geographical position is still important in conditioning the adoption of Web 1.0, and does not make a significant difference in the adoption of Web 2.0. However, the strongest predictors of the adoption of Web 1.0 are not the ones related to geography, but to socio-economic inequality. It is therefore possible for the theorizations of the advantages of the ‘space of flows’ globalization to be suitable only for Web 2.0, Web 1.0 still being under the influence of the ‘space of place’. We discussed the implications of adopting the network society theory in place branding communication in order to nuance the understanding of the transitions from Web 1.0 to Web 2.0 and from Web 2.0 to Web 3.0 in place marketing.
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