The Nielsen Company and the In-Store Marketing Institute last week announced they have entered a national expansion phase in developing a service that will measure the size and composition of audiences for in-store marketing media. The new service, P.R.I.S.M. (Pioneering Research for an In-Store Metric) will help marketers and advertisers gain a better understanding of their customers' in-store habits (from shopping to actual buying).

Nielsen In-Store will bolster P.R.I.S.M.'s coverage to include all in-store marketing media (such as merchandising activity, retail TV and radio networks, shelf-talkers, cart-talkers and digital signage). This latest expansion represents to second stage in the P.R.I.S.M., which is a collaborative effort among Nielsen, the Institute and a consortium of manufacturers, retailers and media and promotion agencies. The first stage showed the feasibility of accurately measuring consumer traffic in the store, aisle-by-aisle and category-by-category. This second phase is expected, with a larger store sample, to help link consumer traffic to specific in-store media and marketing conditions and create a way in which to measure that for advertisers, retailers, media companies and media and promotion agencies.

The consortium of manufacturers, retailers and media companies involved in P.R.I.S.M. has some heavy hitters, including Coca-Cola, General Mills, Kraft and Starcom MediaVest Group. They will receive data during the fourth quarter of 2007. Nielsen In-Store will release the data industry-wide in 2008.

As we’ve mentioned before marketers and advertisers are constantly seeking information that will help them better understand their customers. At the same time, they want metrics that can effectively measure they success (or failure) of their promotions. This new initiative created by The Nielsen Company and the In-Store Marketing Institute should certainly help marketers and advertisers obtain slices of customer data that they haven't seen before. And it will provide the metrics they want. It appears that P.R.I.S.M. will help keep Nielsen at the top of the market research game; it's an initiative that should only grow more robust over time. Both organizations have plans to further the development of the Nielsen In-Store service, by entering other retail channels and countries. It will be interesting to see how else they will be able to collect and then slice and dice this data.