Turns out Forbes has actually had a service similar to the Economist Intelligence Unit since 2008:
In news organizations’ efforts to diversify their revenue streams, one idea — custom research — is catching on. Global Post offers businesses “our global network of credentialed journalists to find authoritative answers to your urgent questions.” We recently wrote about Iraq Oil Report, a startup that provides paying clients on-the-ground answers to their Iraq questions — and which now generates 30 percent of its revenue from those research operations.
To launch that service, Iraq Oil Report hired a veteran of the bigger player in the space, the Economist Intelligence Unit. That’s also the path chosen by Forbes, which hired an Intelligence Unit veteran, Christiaan Rizy — at the time director of business development of EIU — to launch its own custom research operation in June 2008.
The Forbes Insights division, a 13-person operation spread throughout offices in New York, Austria, and India, is already profitable, Rizy told me. Its major product is a form of tailored journalism for high-paying corporate clients. (Rizy wouldn’t get into specifics on how much a project typically runs.) The program fits with Forbes’ broader strategy of expanding into products well beyond magazines and the ads that run in them; we recently profiled their corporate “reputation tracker,” another money-maker outside of ads.
Nieman Journalism Lab: Forbes takes a page (and an employee) from The Economist to build a custom research service
Forbes getting into services – reputation tracking
Blogs are not businesses
Future journalism business models: research and explanation services