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Arbitron, Nielsen On Board with Project Apollo

Arbitron and Nielsen reached an agreement that will govern development and testing of the Project Apollo marketing-research service and the potential expansion of the pilot panel to a full national service.

The parties formed a jointly owned limited-liability company to continue pursuit of the project.

The proposed Project Apollo service would use the Arbitron Portable People Meter system, ACNielsen Homescan technology and other technologies to provide advertisers with a better understanding of the connection between consumer exposure to advertising on multiple media and their shopping/purchase behavior.

“By making it possible to link the Arbitron Portable People Meter system with ACNielsen Homescan technology, this agreement between Arbitron and The Nielsen Co. will help to make real the industry’s long-standing dream of a true, ‘single-source’ consumer-research service,” Arbitron CEO Steve Morris said.

Nielsen and Arbitron announced an earlier agreement in May 2005 that allowed the two companies to share the costs of the deployment of a pilot panel for the Project Apollo service.

The current agreement also encompasses related agreements between the jointly owned LLC, Arbitron and other Nielsen companies for services to be used by the pilot panel and the full national service.

Nielsen and Arbitron deploy a national pilot panel of more than 11,000 persons in 5,000 households as a demonstration of Project Apollo. The pilot panel is delivering, to a select group of charter supporters, multimedia and purchase information from a common sample of consumers.

Seven advertisers are members of the Project Apollo steering committee, a group of marketers that signed agreements for the pilot-panel data. In aggregate, these seven advertisers spend more than $6.8 billion for advertising on measured media.

The panel members are being given incentives to voluntarily carry Arbitron’s PPMs, a small, cellular-phone-sized device that collects the volunteers’ exposure to electronic media sources: broadcast networks, cable networks and network radio, as well as audio-based commercials broadcast on these outlets and on additional media.

Consumer exposure to other media -- such as newspapers, magazines and circulars -- is being collected through additional survey instruments.