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Media Audience Measurement Technology

WSJ reports that media companies have long searched, with mixed results, for proof that their advertising works. Some high-tech help may be on the way.

A number of established audience-measurement companies and industry newcomers are developing tools to better gauge the connection between media exposure and consumer behavior. The audience-measurement job is more complicated these days because of an explosion of media offerings in and outside the home.

A dark horse in the race is Integrated Media Measurement Inc. (IMMI), a start-up led by some prominent technology entrepreneurs that is using specially adapted cellphones to measure what consumers listen to and see. The company has developed software that helps the phones take samples of nearby sounds, which are identified by comparing them against a database.

Besides television and radio, IMMI says the technology can track exposure to CDs, DVDs, videogames, sporting events, audio and video on portable gadgets and movies in theaters. The closely held company has been testing its system for nine months with about 200 consumers in Sacramento, California, and hopes to help answer some tricky questions.

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