PepsiCo Signs Deal For Apollo, Arbitron And VNU Have Yet To
But that hasn't stopped them from behaving like partners, jointly marketing the initiative to big marketers, and deploying a test market of the service, which is now active in 5,000 households with 11,000 individual respondents. News of PepsiCo's involvement was disclosed by executives this week during a meeting in New York updating stakeholders and pitching media companies to encode their programs and commercials so that Arbitron's portable people meters can detect them for the duration of the test.
The test will begin reporting data in May or June, and will continue to be active through December, Howard Shimmel, senior vice president-client insights at Nielsen Media Research, said Wednesday during the Association of National Advertisers Television Advertising Forum in New York.
"Basically, it's up and running," Shimmel said, adding that, "In December, we have to have the dialogue with the industry," meaning Arbitron and VNU would need to assess the level of support required to roll Apollo out as a full, syndicated research service.
In recent months, Nielsen has taken the lead roll in VNU's interests in Apollo, which is telling since VNU technically is in play, and depending on how it's ownership is resolved, could end up broken up from VNU and/or sister unit ACNielsen, whose Homescan panel represents the installed household base for the Apollo panel. Households in the Homescan panel use ACNielsen's scanner technology to record their household purchases. Individual members of those households carry Arbitron's PPMs, which detect their exposure to media and advertising, generating as single-source database of product purchases and media exposure.
Shimmel told the ANA crowd that PPM usage has been high since the test became active earlier this year. "What we are seeing is the PPMs are out of dock and in carriage for 15 hours a day," he said.
The participation of PepsiCo, meanwhile represents another intriguing development for Apollo, which has been supported aggressively by Procter & Gamble, and also includes Unilever, SC Johnson, Pfizer and Kraft as supporters.
Those marketers presumably will be getting detailed insights from the market trial that would give them a competitive advantage over outside observers in terms of the relationship between media usage and consumer behavior.
. Apollo, however, is expected to share some of those insights with the marketing world at large, in hopes of convincing others to support a full deployment of the service, and to get media companies to support it too.
During this week's Apollo meeting, Arbitron and Nielsen executives talked extensively about encoding TV programming, but one observer noted that there was oddly "no talk about encoding radio." That's odd, because Apollo has always been positioned as a multimedia tracking service, and because the core media measurement technology - PPMs - is being deployed as a radio ratings technology by Arbitron. Nielsen, of course, passed on an option to develop a joint TV and radio ratings venture with Arbitron based on the PPM.
During an interview with Nielsen CEO Susan Whiting at the ANA forum, an instant audience poll found that 46 percent of the attendees agreed with Nielsen's decision, while only 33 percent disagreed, and 21 percent said they didn't have enough information to form an opinion.