With the recent announcement by VNU of its new measurement service to be delivered through its Nielsen In-Store division, a lot has been written and talked about within the digital signage industry. Many speakers at DS conferences have harped about the need for both standards and measurement, and this seems to address the latter, and largely for the front end piece of audience measurement and customer reach.

While all industry insiders and analysts have been talking about measurement for quite some time, in many ways the fact that Nielsen is actually developing an in-store measurement offering has more meaning as validation of in-store media than anything else. Without a doubt, VNU is responding to clear customer demand. It means advertisers now want to understand what they are buying in familiar (and safe) terms. That is a good thing, because it means that they want to buy. The retailers, on the other hand, don’t really need an independent source to measure. They have been counting traffic and doing sophisticated market basket analysis for many years. In fact, some retailers deploy digital signage without outside advertising at all. Their objective is to reinforce brand and lifestyle affinity, and to influence point of purchase decisions.

Advertisers will probably never be as comfortable with in-store media as they are with TV and radio. In the end, in-store media will be recognized for what it is: the “last mile” of the promotion cycle, reinforcing and capping impressions made in broadcast and other media, direct mail, internet and in-store efforts. It will simply become a standard part of well-planned and executed campaigns, even if the advertisers can’t compare value on an apples-to-apples basis with TV.

Wallet share is the ultimate goal. The most important retail metrics are easily measured and shared directly with trusted partners: item movement and cross-purchase data at the register. With the validating news from VNU that advertisers want to have measurement standards for in-store media, it seems that a fairly large industry hurdle has been surmounted. Digital Signage is going to be an important part of the mix from here on in. Nielsen In-Store and offerings like it will provide audience metrics, and retailers themselves will fill the void on measuring effectiveness. In between, how we all execute will matter more than ever.