As a consumer you play an important role in what The Nielsen Company does. You may not realize it, but what you do everyday - whether you’re sitting on your couch watching TV, searching for information online or visiting your local supermarket - matters. Understanding and reporting your preferences, motivations and behaviors is the key to helping our clients provide the programs, products and services that you want and need. And no two consumers are alike. So Nielsen goes to great lengths to ensure we have diverse representation in the input we receive from our studies, surveys and consumer panels. Ever wondered how it all works? Here’s a little more information that may answer your questions.
As the industry leader in media and consumer research, Nielsen uses an array of different approaches for collecting information, ranging from traditional methods like telephone, mail and online surveys to more technology-oriented solutions, such as in-home metering equipment, barcode scanners, and applications on smartphones. Nielsen scientists are careful to match the data collection approach with the specific type of information requested and/or population from which the information is being collected.
In order to accurately represent the population of the market we are measuring, Nielsen captures data using surveys and panels that consist of a selected group of individuals represented by a sample (a subset) of the population. Some panels are used to develop ratings of television shows and are based on a purely random selection processes to ensure the highest scientific standards for the results. Other panels allow individuals to “opt-in” (request to participate), typically by clicking on an online advertisement displayed on a webpage. And some panels use a combination of these two approaches. Through panels and studies, these samples of the population allow us to provide more detailed information on behaviors and preferences and then project those insights to the larger population.
In general, for most Nielsen panels there are three key stages at which diversity of participants is checked: initial recruitment, individual survey participation and data analysis. We use a variety of ways to find participants when recruiting individuals to become a part of an ongoing panel. The methods can include random telephone samples, online offers to join, or in some cases, face-to-face recruitment.
With groups that are sometimes harder to contact, such as young adults and certain cultural groups, we focus additional recruitment efforts in the areas where there are higher numbers of these individuals or provide offers on websites or print publications that are often viewed by these groups. Our recruiters, or field staff, are typically bilingual and equipped with in-language materials to help explain survey participation. Once a pool of individuals has been recruited we can select representative samples of these individuals to participate in various panels and surveys. And, when reporting the information, scientific statistical procedures are often used to ensure that the demographic characteristics of the participants accurately reflect the diversity of the larger population.