In a sign that weakening economic conditions are beginning to impact the media research business, Nielsen Co. and IMMI Friday shut down their recently launched out-of-home TV viewing measurement service. The service, which was launched with much fanfare earlier this year, was created to fill a long-standing void in the TV marketplace for accurate measurement of viewing that takes place outside of Nielsen's traditional in-home TV measurement panels. Despite demand from some high-profile networks, especially sports-oriented programmers like ESPN and Turner Sports, and a commitment from Publicis' Zenith Media unit to use the new service, Nielsen and IMMI said they were suspending the service due to economic concerns.
Nielsen might blame this problem on the economic downturn, but in reality there were just too few buyers for their data to begin with. Even with an aggressive growth rate of 20% for the digital signage industry there likely wouldn't be enough buyers to support their efforts for a number of years. Now that marketers are tightening their belts even more, Nielsen probably figures that the time to ROI is too far out, and they have better ways to spend (or not spend) their money.