Nielsen, Arbitron Deepen Apollo Commitment

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Nielsen and Arbitron have started moving their "Project Apollo" joint venture from the testing range to the launch pad.

The rating companies Wednesday announced an agreement to jointly oversee the completion of testing and potential national roll-out of the service, which combines Arbitron's Portable People Meters with Nielsen technologies to better correlate media advertising with purchasing behavior.

Development of the service will be via a jointly-owned, limited-liability partnership just formed between the two.

Nielsen last March decided not to go into business with Arbitron to roll out the portable, pager-sized meters, which measure "ambient" media via codes embedded in the broadcast signal , but it said the PPM's had "useful applications" for market research and continued to work with Arbitron on the Apollo project.

Said Susan Whiting, chairman/CEO of Nielsen Media Research, said results from the pilot panel testing the service over the past 18 months "has been well received by the seven charter advertisers who are helping us develop the service. Together, our companies and our charter supporters in the advertising industry will work to make ‘Project Apollo’ the most advanced marketing research service of its kind.”

The two companies agreed in May 2005 to share the costs of deployment.