Community Connect, NFO Ink Panel Agreement

Polling giant NFO WorldGroup is allying with Community Connect to create what it tabs as the U.S.’s largest online research panel comprised of minority groups.

Through the agreement, Greenwich, Conn.-based WorldGroup’s NFO InDepth Interactive will be working with Alley-based Web publisher Community Connect, which runs minority-focused Web sites BlackPlanet.com, AsianAvenue.com, and MiGente.com.

The idea is to create an authoritative source for marketing intelligence on African-Americans, Asian-Americans and U.S. Latinos/Hispanics. Community Connect’s three sites have about 4.8 million registered members, which the companies are hoping to leverage in building the NFO panels.

Once they’re done building the panels, the companies will begin offering the groups to marketers as a way to glean market research and insights into the demographics — especially important as minority groups’ population numbers and discretionary income increase.

“Multicultural marketing intelligence has become increasingly critical as the population becomes more diverse and the buying power of these population segments becomes more significant,” said NFO InDepth Interactive president Mark Berry. “This alliance was driven by our desire to create services that maximize the marketing efficiency of our clients through a better understanding of these ethnic segments.”

The companies haven’t disclosed specific clients that will use the new panels, but NFO WorldGroup serves some 4,000 clients in industries such as consumer packaged goods, healthcare and financial services — and the firm is affiliated with holding company Interpublic and its roster of agencies.

Meanwhile, Community Connect will receive a commission for members that it sends to the panels, and will earn a share of the revenue from the sale of research reports, which a spokesman said should fetch between $2,000 and $100,000 per report.

The deal comes as one of the Web publisher’s newest efforts to better monetize its traffic. In June, Community Connect sold exclusive rights to manage its BlackPlanet and AsianAvenue email lists to New York-based ad network 24/7 Media.

Earlier this year, the company launched a joint promotion with FreeLotto.com, encouraging users to register for Lotto entries with an additional incentive of donating $0.50 to charity for each registration. (FreeLotto.com collects names, home addresses, email addresses and demographic information that it uses to target banners and offers from advertisers.)

“Our members are passionate and vocal about products and services targeting their demographics,” said Community Connect president and chief executive Benjamin Sun. “Because of this strong voice, researchers and marketers seeking to build successful brands with multicultural sensibilities will find our members’ insights extremely valuable.”

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