RealTime IT News

Sampling Site Gets Big-Name Backing

FreeSamples.com, a site dedicated to helping brand marketers distribute samples to potential customers, this week rounded up $15 million in support of several well-known investors, including publishers CondéNet and Hollinger International Inc.

The site, which says it is in the process of updating its Web presence, is partnering to distribute samples of products from companies in a variety of categories -- consumer package goods, health and beauty products, office supplies, pet supplies, entertainment services, pharmaceuticals and digital content.

Consumers who come to the site are asked to provide demographic information and are surveyed on their product preferences, and, in return, they receive samples of the goods they choose. FreeSamples.com hopes that its service will help draw traditional marketers online, offering them more than banner ads can provide.

"Drawing from our expertise in the media industry, we believe that FreeSamples.com is going to revolutionize the market research arena using product and service sampling, dramatically improving what our advertisers have been searching for -- invaluable research for an efficient and powerful brand marketing campaign," said Sarah Chubb, president of CondéNet, a subsidiary of Advance Publications. Chubb will be taking a seat on FreeSample.com's board of directors.

By outsourcing their sampling to FreeSamples.com, marketers will receive data about consumer preferences and segmented demographics -- information to help them better target their promotions.

Other investors in the round included GE Investments, TechSpace Xchange, Roccia Ventures, Starwood International, and individual investor Bob Lessin, chairman and co-chief executive officer of Wit Capital Group Inc.

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