The Rocky Road to Single Source

Rick Watrall

The ability to funnel all media behavior into a single data source is considered the Holy Grail among media buyers and planners. The increased efficiencies gained from measuring every message your customers are exposed to - across all media - and what they did as a result of that exposure holds great promise for media buyers and planners.

There was much talk about the longstanding idea of single source at the Advertising Research Foundation (ARF)'s Audience [Me]asurement 2.0 conference in New York, along with high hopes around the efforts under way to drive brands toward this measurement nirvana. The benefits of single source are clear: the ability to look at media exposure at a consumer level and understand synergies among media types.

Media planners for the most part are eagerly awaiting single-source initiatives such as Project Apollo, which combines consumers' purchase patterns with their media exposure. Currently being tested in 5,000 U.S. households, Apollo integrates a portfolio of research with data from Arbitron's Portable People Meter (which itself is being pilot-tested in two markets - Philadelphia and Houston) and ACNielsen's Homescan scanner, which allows panelists to continually record their packaged-goods purchases. (For our initial take on Apollo's pilot tests, see “Will These New Technologies Simplify Measuring Marketing Effectiveness?” at