Unilever Boards Arbitron/VNU's Apollo

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Unilever, which spends $600 million on "measured media" for everything from Skippy peanut butter to Q-Tips to Ben & Jerry's, has signed on as a subscriber to Arbitron/VNU's Project Apollo, a test of how well the Portable People Meter, in concert with other research, can measure the relationship between advertising and purchasing decisions.

Last May, Arbitron and Nielsen parent VNU announced the creation of the panel of 6,000-plus households to test Project Apollo.

The service is intended to give advertisers a better gauge of the effectiveness of their ads by relating ad exposures across multiple platforms to shopping behaviors.

The panel will comprise about 14,500 people. Each will get a portable people meter, which records "ambient" exposure to broadcast and cable.

Exposure to print ads and circulars will be collected via other means. That data will then be combined with information on consumer preferences and purchases based on Nielsen's HomeScan technology, as well as on surveys.

Unilever is now one of six advertisers--representing over $6 billion in ad spending--who have signed up to test the service.