The Media Rating Council (MRC) has voted to continue accrediting MRI-Simmons’ Survey of the American Consumer, a multimedia, lifestyle and product usage survey that remains the core media-planning source for many advertisers and agencies.
The vote follows an annual review of the service, including audits of MRI’s methodology, fieldwork, analytics and data handling systems.
The service, which launched in 1979, and has been accredited by the MRC since 1998. It utilizes an extensive questionnaire and in-depth, in-person interviews with about 24,000 Americans each year, covering media usage, as well as attitudes and usage of more than 6,500 products and services in nearly 600 categories.
The service was combined with Simmons Research, its chief rival over the years, in 2019 to form a joint venture now called MRI-Simmons.
I cannot deny referencing the Survey "once or twice" over a 49-year career.
Nonetheless, given the 24,000 respondents and 6,500 products & services
in 600 categories not to mention the media usage and attitude assessments,
there is but one number I would like to see from the MRC Accreditation Report.
What is the Response Rate when all is said and done? I shudder to think!
What appears to be a "research-by-the-pound" service in 2020 was originally founded
as W.R. Simmons & Associates Research in 1952 by Willard R. Simmons.
To the best of my knowledge...
Mr. Simmons designed the magazine industry's first syndicated audience research study.
The first major study using his method was conducted in the fall of 1962.
Interviewers went to respondents' homes to ask them a series of questions
related to various print media. A subsample of the respondents completed
TV-viewing diaries and provided more specific information on product and brand usage.
The surveys provided average issue "through-the-book" measurements (i.e., total audience data) for 36 publications, including The Saturday Evening Post, Better Homes & Gardens, Good Housekeeping, McCall's and Ladies' Home Journal. For the first time, total audience data were provided for large-circulation magazines such as Time, Newsweek, U.S. News & World Report, Business Week and National Geographic.
That was then. This is now. Is more better? In the case of Research Quality...not so much!
Nick, the first syndicated magazine audience measurement service was started by Nielsen---The Nielsen Media Service or NMS---a few years before Simmons but it measured only about a dozen of the largest publications using a variant of the through-the-book method. Cross tabs with TV viewing were also available. I was the one who proposed the idea of a much larger study to Bill Simmons and this is how the Simmons surveys started. At first only about 30 or so publications were included but this quickly expanded. In the first few Simmons studies, TV was measured using a yesterday recall method which produced much lower audience estimates for nationally aired TV shows than Nielsen so we decided to shift to a personal diary kept by a subsample of adult respondents for two weeks which generated more comparable ratings.This allowed Simmons to fit curves to the data and supply four- week reach estimates for print and TV combinations to subscribers who were interested. It also created the base for the first syndicated viewer attentiveness measurements---which I also initiated.
As regards MRI, I have found its service most helpful in defining the mindsets of consumers regarding their attitudes about advertising, their interest in fashion, their concerns about health issues and many other variables and how these interface with media usage. Yes, it's a lot of data coming from the same respondents but used with care the information can be most telling. For example an advertiser can take heavy users of a product class or, in many cases, of individual brand users, and profile their attitudes by examining what they do for entertainment, what other products they use, their preferrences for media---in great detail---- etc. This can be a very helpful gude not only for media selection but for matching the mindset of the audience to that of the ad campaign. These days there is lots of talk about the merits of "data"---often referred to as "big data" when very large samples are utilized--- however, MRI's "little data" offers much the same thing in spades for anyone who takes the trouble to use it in this manner. Respectfully, I would propose that used sensibly---not carrying things down to the last decimal point----MRI and, now ,MRI- Simmons offers a lot more than just magazine audience measurements for a media industry that is championing better targeting methods and seeking out consumers who are more likely to respond to brand ad campaigns. And, best of all, it's all coming from a unified sample base. Of course there are issues like response rates to so many questions but, in my opinion, these have been dealt with in a reasonably sound manner over the years.
Permit me to recognize your unique knowledge and practical perspective
so generously shared
Clearly, you would not have continued to use these tools [i.e., MRI-Simmons],
if they did not produce insightful, profitable results.
Thank you for your attention to my comments and the broader issues involved.