Passenger Jumpstarts Consumer Research Communities for Brands

Brand community platform provider Passenger is making its services more widely available to advertisers. The firm launched in January 2006, and until now has been working with clients like Nestle, Coca-Cola, ABC Television and Sara Lee. Passenger powers private brand communities, allowing companies to conduct product or advertising research with consumers who have signed up to participate.

The platform, Passenger’s Chief Innovation and Marketing Officer Justin Cooper told ClickZ News, is “for augmentation of traditional research.”

Consumers are invited to take part in various focus group-style initiatives by advertisers though the system. Members of a brand network, which typically includes around 2,000 people, may be asked to view video clips or vote on ideas for products or ads. Members can track how the rest of their group has voted, and brands can showcase changes they’ve made that have been inspired by community members.

“It’s all about the experience of having a voice with a brand that you’re passionate about,” said Cooper.

ABC, for instance, recently invited TV show devotees to help develop characters, plots and ads promoting ABC shows. The communal sites are password-protected and branded by the advertiser. Advertisers are provided with reports on how people reacted to information presented, and can drill down to specific demographics or geographic regions.

In addition to helping auto, consumer packaged goods and entertainment brands communicate with enthusiasts, Cooper envisions the platform could be used internally or for B-to-B purposes. For example, Coca-Cola could employ it to collaborate with clients using its soda fountain services.

Adding more social networking elements to the experience, community members can return to the brand site anytime to carry on conversations with other members, or locate or create other networks centered on particular brands. Passenger is in discussions with “a leading social network,” according to Cooper, who did not elaborate. Shawn Gold, SVP, marketing and content at the largest social networking site MySpace happens to serve on Passenger’s advisory board.

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