"Walmart is withdrawing from the consortium of retailers, packaged-goods manufacturers and agencies supporting the PRISM in-store media measurement service, the Nielsen Co. disclosed Tuesday.
Nielsen said it will continue work on PRISM (an acronym for Pioneering Research for an In-Store Metric), which is expected to introduce a complete metric in 2009. However, the departure of its largest founding member is a setback for the project, one of several high-profile initiatives working in parallel to create new metrics for out-of-home.
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In September, Walmart unveiled a new Internet-protocol Smart Network, the result of a cooperative effort between Premier Retail Networks, Studio2 and DS-IQ, which will continually analyze point-of-sale figures and dynamically update programming and advertising to maximize sale lift.
Premier Retail Networks is responsible for building and operating the IPTV network as well as ad sales. Studio 2 provides custom programming, and DS-IQ is responsible for measurement, analysis and the message optimization strategy. (The roster at DS-IQ, founded in Bellevue, Wash. in 2003, boasts former top tech executives from Microsoft, Amazon.com, RealNetworks and aQuantive).
Shifting into gossip mode, the decision to leave PRISM could also be delayed fallout from the departure of Walmart's former senior vice president of marketing Julie Roehm two years ago. Roehm, who was at the helm when preliminary research for PRISM was performed in spring of that year, was forced out in December 2006 for alleged favoritism in granting ad and media contracts.
She was also said to have clashed with the retailer's powerful merchandising and consumer research and strategy divisions, which were responsible for creating the Smart Network. Walmart did not hesitate to pull the plug on another of Roehm's initiatives: an online media exchange also organized as a consortium.