Articles of Interest

Monday, November 01, 2004

P&G's Project Apollo summit

MediaDailyNews 11-01-04
P&G Invites Rivals To Two-Day Meeting, Boosts 'Single-Source' System
By Joe Mandese
Editor, MediaPost
Monday, November 01, 2004
In a gathering reminiscent of a meeting it hosted six years go to jump-start the marketing world's involvement with the Internet, Procter & Gamble has invited some of the nation's largest marketers - including some direct competitors - to a two-day meeting to marshal support for a promising new research system that may finally measure the ROI on advertising. The meeting, code-named "Apollo," will be held Tuesday and Wednesday at P&G's Cincinnati headquarters, and will explore the details of a system that combines Arbitron's portable people meters with VNU's household product scanner system, to create a so-called "single-source" service capable of measuring how exposure to advertising impacts product purchases.

Apollo is a loose acronym for Arbitron's Portable People Meter, or PPM, a small page-size device that people wear with them throughout their day, which can detect their exposure to media via audio codes. By building a large national sample of consumers who use those devices and also participate in a panel in which they scan their household product purchases, Arbitron, VNU and P&G believe the system will provide the kind of marketing ROI that P&G has been rallying for.

"P&G intends to be the first customer. We are collaborating in this effort to ensure marketer's needs are met," the company's CMO Jim Stengel said Oct. 9, during a presentation to an auditorium full of marketers at the Association of National Advertisers conference in Boca Raton, Fla.. "This service, under the working title Project Apollo, shows good progress toward bringing us closer to our ultimate goal of measuring ROI in marketing."

"It's a big, big step forward toward helping us understand consumer habits at a level we've never seen before. P&G is really excited about this," added Ted Woehrle, Vice President, Marketing, North America, at P&G. "We believe it's a great example of something this industry desperately needs, that is: Broader collaboration and mobilization around measurement tools."

Details of this week's meeting were sketchy at presstime, but MediaDailyNews has confirmed that it is an invitation-only summit and would include mainly CMO-level executives, though some heads of advertising services were also invited. While the meeting is not generally open to ad agency executives, it is believed at least one or two senior agency researchers will attend as part of their client's contingent at the summit.

"It's not just about funding support," said an executive with knowledge of the meeting. "There's enough funding. P&G could easily support this themselves and still make an ROI case for it. It's about getting industry support behind it."

In that sense, executives said the meeting is reminiscent of the so-called FAST Summit, in which P&G hosted an event to explore how the marketing world could accelerate and influence the development of the Internet as a marketing medium. FAST stood for Future of Advertising Stakeholders, and that meeting set the tone for many of the principles and guidelines for online marketing that followed.

But unlike the FAST Summit, no outside stakeholders, including media companies, other third-party researchers, and for the most part, ad agencies executives have been invited to the Project Apollo meeting this week. However, Arbitron and VNU are expected to follow up with their own series of agency and media company briefings in the next several months.

P&G's avid support for the PPM-based measurement system comes in stark contrast to the market's tepid support for a separate media ratings system Arbitron and VNU unit Nielsen Media Research have been exploring in the U.S. The system, which initially would measure both TV and radio audiences, including those in out-of-home locations, has been mired in a long series of tests and likely will not be developed for at least another year, if at all. While the PPM technology has some technological hurdles, including the fact that it can mistakenly pick up audio codes from TVs and radios playing in locations adjacent to respondents carrying the devices, it is considered by many to be a potential improvement over the current state of TV set-based people meters, and the paper diaries used to measure TV in some markets, and radio in most.

The radio industry currently is conducting an economic assessment study of the system, which is being handled by Forrester Research.

Canada has already introduced the PPM as the official radio and TV ratings currency in its two largest media markets.


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