"It has become clear that in the current climate, there is limited economic support for this new measurement service," they said in a notice sent to clients and the press on Friday. "As such, we believe it is prudent to suspend the out-of-home report at this time. Consequently, our final national report will be through November 9, 2008."
The shutdown comes as the TV viewing population is becoming more mobile than ever, and as Nielsen has been pushing to measure both traditional TV and other forms of video programming anywhere and everywhere a consumer is exposed to it, including online, on mobile handsets, and even in dedicated out-of-home locations. In April, during Media magazines Digital Out-of-Home conference, Nielsen unveiled plans for a series of new out-of-home video ratings reports measuring an array of place-based video networks.
There was no indication in Friday's announcement that Nielsen plans to cut back on its so-called A2/M2 ("anytime/anywhere") TV measurement initiative, but the closure of its venture with IMMI is not an auspicious sign. It also seems to disprove the logic that research, unlike the overall advertising marketplace, might be more resilient to economic downturns. It also comes as another major media and marketing research player, WPP Group, is poised to close on its $1.6 billion acquisition of TNS. WPP chief Martin Sorrell has often cited the agency holding company's diversification into research as a hedge against the vagaries of a volatile advertising marketplace.