Arbitron, Nielsen shutter Project Apollo


Arbitron and The Nielsen Company announced they have terminated the development of “Project Apollo,” the proposed single-source, national research service measuring consumer purchase behavior.  The two companies had been working on the pilot project since early in 2005.  Nielsen spokesman Jack Loftus tells RBR/TVBR it is as simple as there were not enough clients. Loftus said the clients that were participating—[including Kraft, Pfizer, Wal-Mart, Procter & Gamble, Unilever and SC Johnson]—and evaluating the data were not necessarily signed on to the service.

“We had asked them to look at the data, evaluate the price-value proposition and tell us if you will agree to support the service, financially,” said Loftus. “And we did not get the clients that we needed to sustain a business.”

Some companies, like P&G had put in some money for the testing, but no confirmation if they had signed on for the service or not.

Arbitron CEO Steve Morris said in his quarterly conference call (2/15/08 RBR #32) that a "go – no go" decision on Apollo was coming soon. So, the decision was no go.

Like we’ve heard before, agencies liked the granular data and the one-stop shop for consumer purchase behavior, but voiced the price was a bit too high. What they wanted was a la carte pricing options.

MPG COO Steve Lanzano tells RBR/TVBR: “Regarding, Project Apollo I think it was an ambitious and interesting study that was ultimately shuttered due to lack of long-term funding and commitments by the initial set of participants. It was very expensive and many these companies already use similar (although not as comprehensive) modeling either from an outside company or from within their current Agency network.”

Susan Whiting, The Nielsen Company EVP, plans on using what they’ve learned in the trials to improve their own product offerings: “We have learned a great deal from ‘Project Apollo,’ and I am confident that this work will enable us to provide even higher levels of quality service to our clients."