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May 10, 2010, 10 a.m.

Forbes new tool tracks advertisers’ corporate reputation

Get past advertising. It’s a commodity — and who wants to buy a commodity? But a service — that’s a different story.

That’s how Bruce Rogers, chief brand officer for Forbes, says the magazine is thinking these days. Even though circulation has remained relatively stable, Forbes sees an opportunity in thinking beyond selling advertising and diving into broader service areas for clients.

In conversations with chief marketing officers at major financial institutions, like Bank of America, it became clear that many of these companies were dealing with a serious corporate image problem. Rogers said those conversations led to Forbes’ latest service: a reputation tracker, which gives a company an understanding of how its corporate image is perceived by both the general public and by Forbes readers. The idea is to help companies get a benchmark for their relative strength or weakness. And the tracker will specifically test how that reputation changes after an ad campaign run in Forbes — a way to bring some of the measurability of web advertising into the more staid (and more profitable) world of print advertising.

“Corporate reputation was becoming the single most talked about issue when we site down with CMOs,” Rogers told me recently. “Issues around trust, around the company and general credibility.”

The tracker survey system was created by the Reputation Institute, a firm that’s been tracking corporate reputation since the 1980s. Here’s how the survey works:

Reputation is measured based on RI’s RepTrak pulse model, including perceptions of seven key elements: innovation, leadership, citizenship, governance, products/services, performance and workplace. The tracker will also map the connection between these elements and behavior, such as recommending one’s company to others, saying something positive about one’s company, and/or buying the products and services of one’s company.

The tracker doesn’t solve reputation problems, though. Maybe that’s another service waiting to happen.

POSTED     May 10, 2010, 10 a.m.
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