First Results: Project Apollo Audience Measurement System

Demonstrates That Even Mass Media Can Target Narrowly

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CINCINNATI (AdAge.com) -- Early results from the pilot of Project Apollo, which electronically monitors consumers' media usage and purchases, appear to show even mass-media advertising can effectively single out and influence brand loyalists and switchers, according to a presentation by executives of Procter & Gamble Co. and Apollo-backer Arbitron.
P&G Manager-Global Media and Communication Bernhard Glock announced the first Apollo results at a research conference in China.
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People meters
A presentation June 5 at the Esomar World Research Conference in Shanghai, China, included the first data to emerge from the closely watched research pilot. After more than 15 months of recruiting marketer participants, the project began earlier this year with 5,400 U.S. panelists carrying Arbitron's portable people meters to monitor their media. The participants also tracked their retail purchases with hand-held scanners as part of VNU's ACNielsen HomeScan panel.

The results of Apollo's first pilot study, which involved laundry detergent and a large "Brand X" (believed to be P&G's category-leading Tide), show that delivery of media weight does vary significantly among segments of a brand's consumer base, even with mass media such as TV and a large brand with high household penetration.

P&G Manager-Global Media and Communication Bernhard Glock and Linda Dupree, senior VP-Portable People Meter development, presented the results of the study, which was also authored by media consultant Leslie Wood and Don Gloeckler, P&G manager-media research North America. The behavior-based data could provide "even more intelligence for smaller brands," the study's authors concluded.

Media-usage statistics
The study found significant differences in media usage among consumer segments of the "Brand X" detergent in question, with brand loyalists 16 times more likely and brand switchers 11 times more likely than the general population of women aged 25-to-54 to have watched one movie on an unnamed cable network.

The pilot also found the P&G brand's media plan already hitting its targets fairly well, even without Apollo-based insights. Compared to loyalists, nonloyal brand consumers were more than twice as likely to have seen the brand's ads within four weeks of their detergent purchases. But the ads still appeared to be having an impact: Purchasers of "Brand X" had been exposed to 80% more gross ratings points than purchasers of other brands within four weeks of purchase.

Other marketers participating in Project Apollo include Unilever, Kraft Foods, PepsiCo, Pfizer and SCJohnson. Arbitron and VNU are hoping the results will prove intriguing to a larger pool of marketers that could fund expansion of the panel and move it closer to the originally envisioned 30,000 members, which would provide the numbers necessary to make the data more usable for smaller brands. Initial plans would have cost even mid-size marketers upward of $1 million annually, based on 0.5% of marketing spending, but only P&G was willing to sign on at that price.

While other, less-costly options, such as ACNielsen's Spectra, provide similar segment-based analysis of media and consumption patterns, the single-source Apollo "introduces the element of time of purchase relative to time of media exposure," the study's authors pointed out.

Apollo is currently surveying panelists to add print-advertising exposure to its mix. Future plans also call for the addition of in-store, cinema, and online statistics.
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