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Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

October 12, 2009 at 9:00 PM

Marchex offering online reputation tools to small businesses

Seattle online marketing company Marchex is joining the growing cluster of “reputation management” vendors with a new service it’s announcing today.

Marchex built a console for small businesses to monitor how they’re being described in online reviews, on blogs and on social networking services. The console — built on top of the Web index Marchex uses for marketing services — also lets users watch for keywords and compare their online reputation with that of competitors.

Marchex Rep Mgmt Overview.jpg

A free beta version is being offered until the end of the year, after which it will be sold through Marchex partners, including Comcast and AT&T, for a monthly fee of perhaps $40 to $60 per month.

The business is primarily intended to complement other marketing services Marchex provides, but it should also directly boost Marchex sales, said Marchex chief operating officer, Pete Christothoulou.

“I do think this will allow us some growth, some leverage financially,” he said.

Reputation management tools aren’t new. Seattle’s Visible Technologies has been offering them to major corporations, political organizations and the super-rich for years, giving them ways to nudge online conversations and search results in a favorable direction.

Another local venture in the space is enterprise marketing services venture Appature, which announced “social media sentiment analysis” tools on Sept. 29.

Now these tools are coming to smaller businesses, without the premium service fees that corporations pay to protect their brands.

This comes as online ad companies are turning their focus to local advertising, where they hope to achieve their next wave of growth. (That may come from taking share of the overall ad market from newspapers, which have traditionally provided marketing services to small businesses.)

Marchex executives say their service will also stand out because it triangulates online reputation with offline location, using local metadata to pinpoint references in a particular area as opposed to general discussions on the Web.

“We know what people are saying about Definitive Audio, instead of saying, ‘Tthis is what everybody is saying about Definitive Audio across the Web,’ period,” said Ryan Fritzky, senior product manager.

Still needed, though, are tools for companies to directly respond from within the reputation management console. It lets users share reviews with employees or others to respond somehow or address a customer service issues, but there’s not a way to take direct action yet. Christothoulou said Marchex plans to “make it more actionable” over the next six months.

Marchex is adding to more than its product line. The 300-person company lately has been gathering former aQuantive leaders as employees or advisers. It’s also consolidating its mix of downtown Seattle offices into a single building where it’s leasing three floors, a move that should be done in November.

Another screenshot of Marchex Reputation Management:

Marchex Rep Mgmt Mentions Charts Sample (2).jpg

Comments | More in | Topics: marchex, Marchex, reputation management

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