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Nielsen In-Store Suspends Launch

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Blaming the economy, Nielsen said late Friday (Jan. 23) it is suspending indefinitely the launch of PRISM, its ambitious syndicated service designed to measure in-store media. The announcement follows one month after Wal-Mart opted out of the project.

"Many clients, in the face of the current economic environment, are not in a position to fully fund a syndicated service at this time," Nielsen said in a statement.

Developed in partnership with an industry consortium of retailers, manufacturers, agencies and the In-Store Marketing Institute, Nielsen In-Store was working to provide a common industry metric to measure consumer reach. The service, originally set to launch sometime this year, would have allowed companies to compare their in-store media and marketing investments with traditional media and marketing investments, such as TV and print.

"It's a shame. It's another victim of the economy," said Peter Hoyt, executive director of the In-Store Marketing Institute. "Their business model probably included Wal-Mart, [and] . . . auditing the foot traffic and every form of merchandising at retail is very expensive. They didn't have the time to get the price down," Hoyt speculated.

Even without a syndicated in-store metric, shopper marketing has gained in popularity among retailers and manufacturers. "It has so much momentum," Hoyt said. "Other things will come along. There were a lot of important findings [from PRISM]. Someone will build on those bones."

Nielsen said it would work with clients in exploring other ways to address their shopper marketing needs on a custom basis.

The indefinite suspension of PRISM is not unlike the the fate of Arbitron and Nielsen's Project Apollo, another high-priced, multimedia measurement service with a lot of promise. It, too, had the support of blue-chip advertisers and agencies, until they saw the price tag.