Although not perfect, I have found AMPS (the product survey side) an essential tool when developing strategies for brands over the years.
The extensive size of the sample and the enormous amount of data per brand, has often been the source of "spotting the gap" for the brand in the market. The fact that it is done twice a year and for many years, lets one track the brand's performance and early warning signs can be detected, allowing you the opportunity to change strategy to prevent any losses of market share etc.
Knowing your consumer
It has surprised me many times when I presented AMPS analysis to companies, that they had never been exposed to the data. They are often surprised to find that who they thought were buying their product is completely wrong. This naturally would lead to the wrong media plan, as the company focused on the wrong target market. Just imagine how much money can be wasted this way. It is also astounding how accurate AMPS is when looking at regional sales. Clients confirm that the % sales per regions are correct, thus validating the data.
Knowing your consumer is not even half the revelation that AMPS brought to the table. Knowing about your competitors strengths and weaknesses makes the task of developing a plan/strategy so much easier. Even for small brands, the AMPS has been of great value as they can see where their larger competitors are doing well and then pick a market/make an offering that can be successful. In short, which ever category your brand is in, AMPS would give you an insight like no other research.
Since it was the media who signed the "death certificate", I have been surprised that the advertisers have not put pressure on them to keep it going. After all it is the advertisers who end up paying for it. All I can think, is that the big groups have enough moola to do their own product usage research, or have not used AMPS as much.
If the different media types agree to use the same research methodology and include the product survey, all might not be lost. If not, we as strategists are going to have a hard time analysing data from many different sources. This is going to be difficult to put together so as to have one correct picture of the market. I for one am going to miss AMPS and all the knowledge it brought to the table. Life is going to be far bleaker and more difficult after this sad "death" (if it happens).