Wednesday, July 11, 2007

What’s so great about PRISM?

There has been a lot of talk in the trade press over the past year about Nielsen’s PRISM system – an effort to measure in-store promotion. I don’t get it.

First, in case you’re not familiar with it, here’s a quick description from Nielsen of their “ground-breaking effort to measure the size and composition of the audiences for in-store marketing media”:

“This new phase of research will demonstrate in a larger and more diverse store sample that we can link consumer traffic to specific in-store media and marketing conditions and create an entirely new and powerful opportunity-to-see measure for advertisers, retailers, media companies and media & promotion agencies,” said George Wishart, Global Managing Director, Nielsen In-Store. “Knowing the reach-and-frequency of an end-aisle display will be much more valuable than just knowing the display was there.”

Well, yes, it is more valuable than that, but the more important question is whether this new data is more valuable than the data that already exists – sell-through. In-store promotion has always been the form of marketing most closely tied to the scanner. I don’t see that this new form of research adds much of value to what we already have.

I can see how this new measurement provides to Nielsen’s agency clients numbers in a form that agencies understand – reach and frequency – and therefore allows comparability across platforms. But still, it seems like all the shouting boils down to, “Hey, we’ve got a great new set of numbers. Of course, they aren’t as good as the numbers we’ve already got, but they’re new.”

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