APOLLO MEDIA MEASUREMENT SERVICE LAUNCHES

Media Exposure and Purchasing Data Gathered From 5,000 Households

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CINCINNATI (AdAge.com) -- After more than 15 months of selling, pleading and a bit of backpedaling, the long-awaited liftoff of the Apollo media measurement service has arrived.
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5,000 households
The single-source market-research project aimed at marrying media-exposure data from Arbitron's Portable People Meters with household-purchase data from VNU's ACNielsen HomeScan panel enrolled its 5,000th household Jan. 13. The "magic number" means an Apollo pilot involving six advertisers with combined U.S. measured media spending of $6.2 billion began generating data today, said Thom Mocarsky, VP-communications of Arbitron.

Arbitron and VNU continue enrolling households toward the target of 6,250 in the pilot. But the other 1,250 are a "cushion" designed to ensure Apollo is always generating data from a minimum of 5,000 households, Mr. Mocarsky said. So the service launched after reaching what he termed the "magic number" of 5,000.

A year ago, he acknowledged, it looked like Apollo might never get off the ground at all. Original plans called for 30,000 households and a price tag that would have reached seven figures even for mid-size advertisers. Only charter marketer Procter & Gamble Co. was willing to commit at that price.

First results due in April
So Arbitron and VNU scaled back plans to a pilot roughly a fifth the original size, which has allowed them to sign Unilever, SC Johnson and three additional marketers the companies won't disclose. Advertising and media agencies of the participating marketers also are involved in the pilot, Mr. Mocarsky said.

The pilot is designed to last six months, with the first results due in April. Arbitron hopes to use those results to sell a broader group of marketers on the value of Apollo so it can build the originally envisioned panel of 30,000.

Methodology
Participating households, now comprising more than 10,000 individuals, are being paid to carry the small, cell-phone-sized PPMs to collect their exposure to electronic media sources, including TV, network radio and other audio-based commercials, including those in cinema ads and streaming audio and video from the Internet. Their exposure to other media, including newspapers, magazines and circulars, will be measured using surveys. And they're using handheld scanners to measure their purchases from food, drug, mass, club and dollar stores.

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