'People Meters' Part of ‘Project Apollo’

Arbitron Inc. and Nielsen Media Research’s parent company have agreed to deploy "Portable People Meters" in 6,000 homes to form a pilot panel for "Project Apollo," a national marketing service that will collect media and purchase data from consumers, officials said Monday.

The pilot panel is meant to demonstrate to advertisers how Project Apollo can foster a better understanding of the link between consumer exposure to advertising on various media and shopping or purchase behavior.

“This agreement reflects the continuing progress that our two companies have been making since October 2004 toward developing and deploying an innovative national marketing research service based on a portfolio of technologies and other resources from multiple companies,” said Susan Whiting, Nielsen president and CEO and executive vice president of parent VNU’s Media Measurement and Information Group, in a statement.

The pilot panel will have about 14,500 participants in 6,250 households providing, for the first time, multimedia exposure and purchase information from a common sample of consumers. Participants will be incented to voluntarily carry Arbitron’s PPM, a cell-phone sized device that collects the volunteers’ exposure to electronic media.

Data on consumer preference and purchases for a wide array of services and products will also be collected from panelist, via ACNielsen’s Homescan technology.

Both Arbitron and VNU emphasized that the service would be separate, distinct and designed differently from any service for radio and TV ratings.