Early results from Project Apollo, single-source market-research that makes a direct correlation between adspend and consumers' purchase of advertised brands, were presented to delegates at last week's Esomar World Research Conference in Shanghai, China.

Apollo, a new technique pioneered by Arbitron with the backing of Procter & Gamble, Unilever, SC Johnson and other major brand owners, marries media-exposure information from Arbitron's Portable People Meters to household-purchase data.

Even mass media can effectively identify and influence brand loyalists and switchers, the pilot data suggests.

The initial study centers on 'Brand X' (in reality P&G's category-leading Tide) and indicates that that delivery of media weight varies significantly among segments of a brand's consumer base - even when a major brand with high household penetration uses mass media such as TV.

Conclude the study's authors, P&G manager media research Don Gloeckler and media consultant Leslie Wood: "The behavior-based data could provide even more intelligence for smaller brands."

Significant and highly targetable differences in media choices among consumer segments of the "Brand X" detergent were detected. For example, brand loyalists were sixteen times more likely - and brand switchers eleven times more likely - to have viewed a designated movie on an unnamed cable network than the general population of women ages 25-54.

The data also confirmed that Brand X's media plan is already hitting its targets fairly well, even without Apollo-based insights.

Consumers who buy the product irregularly were more than twice as likely as loyalists to have seen Brand X ads within four weeks of their detergent purchases - a finding that confirms P&G is wasting relatively little money preaching to the converted.

Notes media consultant Erwin Ephron: "Getting both the media and purchase response from the same people gets rid of an awful lot of noise in the other systems where we attempt to integrate data."

The pilot which began earlier this year comprised 5,400 panelists carrying Portable People Meters to monitor their media exposure and track their retail purchases via handheld scanners.

Panelists' compliance with PPM usage was at 76% during the pilot, on par with average PPM usage. Panel members carried the pager-size TV and radio signal trackers for around fifteen hours daily.

Arbitron eventually aims to recruit 30,000 panelists and hopes other marketers will be sufficiently intrigued by the pilot findings to join the project and fund the expansion.

Data sourced from AdAge (USA); additional content by WARC staff