Common sample panel agreement for research companies Arbitron and VNU

An agreement in the US between Arbitron and VNU could see the birth of new national marketing research which will collect multi-media and purchase information from a common sample of consumers.

The service will be designed to enable a better understanding of consumer exposure to advertising on multiple media and the link to their shopping/purchase behavior.

The ultimate objective will be to provide advertisers with an enhanced ability to determine the return on investment for their marketing efforts. Procter & Gamble will collaborate with the two companies to ensure that the service properly addresses the needs of marketers.

The innovative service will consist of a panel of participants who would be incented to voluntarily carry Arbitron’s Portable People Meter (PPMSM), a small, pager-like device that collects the volunteers’ exposure to multiple media sources. Data on consumer preference and purchases for a wide range of services and products will also be collected from panelists, electronically and via surveys, with some households being part of ACNielsen’s Homescan consumer panel, which currently tracks packaged goods purchases. Data will be collected in aggregate form to provide a holistic understanding of participants’ media interactions and their resulting shopping and purchase behavior.

P&G has agreed to collaborate with VNU and Arbitron in the development of this new research service as P&G has long been interested in identifying new consumer-centric approaches for better understanding and reaching consumers in appealing ways.

Arbitron’s president and CEO Steve Morris says: “This collaboration combines Arbitron’s and VNU’s expertise in media and consumer insight. Our goal is to provide the broadest possible view of the interaction between marketing and media elements in a way that allows marketers to maximize their return on investment.

“P&G’s expertise in marketing, consumer understanding and research application will be very beneficial as we explore this opportunity and seek the support of a broad cross section of marketers including other package goods providers, retailers, automotive marketers, telecommunications providers, financial services firms, as well as many other companies.”

VNU Media Measurement & Information chairman and CEO Michael Connors says: “We look forward to joining forces with Arbitron in this exploration and continuing on a new front our relationship with P&G. Today’s consumer marketplace is fast-moving and complex, and we want to provide a range of services that help our clients fully optimize their marketing activities.

“We believe a broader understanding of the impact of media and marketing activities on consumer behavior should provide benefits for both the industry and the consumers it serves. This new service will be in line with VNU’s broader goal of combining media and market research in innovative ways that deliver more valuable insight to our clients.”

Both Arbitron and VNU emphasized that the service will be separate, distinct and designed very differently from any service for TV and radio ratings. The new research approach will help marketers learn more about how consumer media and shopping habits are changing.

VNU is a global information and media company with leading market positions and recognized brands in marketing information (ACNielsen), media measurement and information (Nielsen Media Research), business information (Billboard, The Hollywood Reporter, Computing, Intermediair) and directory publishing (Golden Pages). VNU is active in more than 100 countries, with headquarters in Haarlem, The Netherlands and New York, USA.

Arbitron Inc is an international media and marketing research firm serving radio broadcasters, cable companies, advertisers, advertising agencies and outdoor advertising companies in the United States, Mexico and Europe. Arbitron’s core businesses are measuring network and local market radio audiences across the United States; surveying the retail, media and product patterns of local market consumers; and providing application software used for analyzing media audience and marketing information data. The Company is developing the Portable People Meter, a new technology for media and marketing research.