The Nielsen Company confirmed today that it has suspended plans to launch a syndicated data service based on the P.R.I.S.M. initiative.
"Given the nation's serious economic state, Nielsen and its clients have decided [that] this is not the right environment to launch a national syndicated service," according to an official statement released on Friday. "As a result, Nielsen is suspending [the] service indefinitely."
Nielsen's statement asserts that the industry "as a whole is very supportive of a syndicated service" that would provide metrics for measuring consumer reach within the store, but that "many clients ... are not in a position to fully fund" the project in the current economic environment. The company said that it will offer custom work for interested clients "until a syndicated service is financially viable" for enough of them in the future.
The P.R.I.S.M. initiative was originally launched in 2006 by a consortium of consumer product manufacturers and supporting retailers spearheaded by the In-Store Marketing Institute. The goal was to establish a valid metric for estimating shopper traffic by using a store's sales data and other obtainable pieces of information.
In December 2006, the consortium selected Nielsen to commercialize the project and develop a nationally syndicated system that would provide the industry with data on the audience for in-store marketing activity. Nielsen launched a new business unit, called Nielsen In-Store, and set out to create a service that not only would provide audience measurements, but also would gauge marketing effectiveness by auditing the presence of in-store marketing materials. The company's original timetable called for the syndicated service to be launched by the end of 2007.
Last month, Nielsen announced that Walmart -- which had supported the P.R.I.S.M. initiative from the outset -- had decided not to participate in the data syndication service.
"It's really a shame," said Peter Hoyt, Executive Director of the In-Store Marketing Institute. "We all has such high hopes for this. There were some incredible findings though, and I imagine that sooner or later someone else will appear who can build on the bones of this failed effort."
Whether or not Walmart's exit was the cause of the project's failure, or just a sign that it was already headed downhill is something I don't know yet, but it can't be a good thing when one of your original backers -- and an early proponent of the program -- leaves right before you're about to take it public.
With Nielsen out of the game for the time being, one wonders whether POPAI will attempt to step up their own MARI program, or if, like Nielsen, they'll sit on the sidelines until the economy improves and more retailers and CPG manufacturers decide to open their wallets again.