Google has again pipped Apple to the top spot in a global brand ranking that also sees YouTube and Wikipedia debut in the top five, a survey showed last week.

The annual survey by online branding magazine brandchannel.com often throws up controversial results, such as in 2004, when Arabic TV station Al Jazeera was named the world's fifth most influential brand.

This year the 3,625 branding professionals and students who voted have again surprised, awarding upstart firms star status when asked: "Which brand had the most impact on our lives in 2006?".

Google, the Internet search engine that has expanded regionally and moved into online advertising, mail and blogging, seized the top spot for the second consecutive year, ahead of Apple Inc, which again comes in second place.

More surprisingly, video-sharing Web site YouTube, which was bought by Google in October last year, stormed into third place. Online encyclopedia Wikipedia makes the fourth spot, pushing coffee shop behemoth Starbucks Corp. to fifth.

"The dramatic debut of these newcomers - YouTube in third and Wikipedia in fourth -- is an indication of a larger trend - the growing impact of online brands built on user-generated contents," editor Anthony Zumpano said in a statement.

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