Books and comic books have been used as a source for movies for decades now, since the very beginning of the industry. So that's not new. And movie producers have often optioned books based on the media buzz and how popular a book is, with some titles being optioned before the book is even on the market (The Hunt for Red October or The Firm). So that's not new.
So all that I can see which is new is that the producers are using a direct approach to gauge interest in a movie project rather than the haphazard indirect approach used in the past. There's a structure to the market survey which was lacking before, and while that is useful I don't exactly see how this is new and amazing. Can someone clue me in?
Addendum: A friend on Twitter pointed out a flaw with this idea. It's structured nature, having the surveys right after the comics, sets up the possibility that the survey results could be gamed. All it would take is a few bored geeks to pad the survey with lots of bad results and then they're worthless. This wouldn't be the first time.