Leading US electronic measurement specialist Arbitron has teamed with two other companies pre-eminent in their respective fields – Procter & Gamble and ACNielsen – to pioneer the use of portable people meters as a general market research tool.

PPMs, currently seen only as a device for TV and radio audience measurement, could be successfully deployed across a far wider spectrum of market research, the trio believe.

The new venture will meld PPMs with Nielsen's in-home product-purchase tracking service Homescan, while P&G will collaborate on the design of the pilot service.

It is intended to provide advertisers with new insights into the interaction between consumers' media habits and their purchase behavior from a panel of 70,000 consumers in 30,000 households.

Having the two measures in a single package may well affect how advertisers invest their media dollars and target prospective consumers.

Explains Greg Ross, director of media and marketing at P&G North America: "The consumer is boss at P&G. This new research approach will help marketers learn more about how consumer media and shopping habits are changing. It offers the potential for a breakthrough in consumer understanding about how and when consumers are most receptive to brand information."

The trio believe the new service, which could be up and running by 2005, will fulfil advertisers' growing need to chart a route through an increasingly fragmented and proliferating media environment.

Data sourced from AdWeek Online; additional content by WARC staff