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Nielsen, Arbitron Pull Plug on Project Apollo

Houston, we have a problem -- not enough clients.

Nielsen and Arbitron pulled the plug on Project Apollo, the proposed new ratings service the two companies have been testing since 2005 (Houston  was the test market).

Nielsen spokesman Jack Loftus called it a mutual decision, adding: "There were not enough clients to make Apollo a viable business."

Nielsen executive vice president Susan Whiting saw a silver lining: “We have learned a great deal from Project Apollo," she said in a statement Monday, "and I am confident that this work will enable us to provide even higher levels of quality service to our clients."

It was only one year ago that the companies began moving the project from the test track to the starting line, although Nielsen decided a year earlier not to go into partnership on the service, but it remained committed to helping and said it saw market-research applications for the portable, pager-sized meters, which measure "ambient" media via codes embedded in the broadcast signal.