Why Nielsen Wrote a Play That Stars Its People Meter

Firm Hopes Drama Will Familiarize Latinos With Measurement Process

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As the Nielsen Co. moves to a single sample to measure Spanish-language and English-language TV audiences, the market researcher is grappling with how to recruit Spanish-speaking families who aren't familiar with Nielsen or its People Meter system. The answer: a project called "The Nielsen Telenovela."
Nielsen found minorities are hardest to recruit for measurement panels.
Nielsen found minorities are hardest to recruit for measurement panels.

When Mexicans gather in Chicago┬┤s Little Village neighborhood for the Fiestas Patrias celebration on Sept. 8 and 9, they will be invited to watch Nielsen's own little drama. But unlike the novelas that unfold each night on their TV screens, this one lasts only 15 minutes, is performed live and has an unusual main character woven into the story: Nielsen┬┤s People Meter.

The performance will be set in an outdoor booth transformed into a domestic tableau. A living-room set is the backdrop for six local actors who play the roles of family members in a randomly selected Latino household receiving a visit from a Nielsen representative. "The point is to have an informational session but also put a little drama and a little chisme [gossip] to keep the audience engaged," said Joseph Nebolsky de Ochoa, senior VP of FCG Latino. The Chicago-based marketing company pitched the telenovela concept to Nielsen and was hired to develop Hispanic marketing projects in Chicago.

The company's diversity push is a result of an in-house study that found minorities were always the hardest to recruit for audience-measurement panels, mainly because of a lack of brand recognition.

"The Nielsen Telenovela" made its debut at the Fiestas Puertorriquenas in Chicago in July, and is likely to continue until next year and move to other cities as part of a growing effort to reach out to U.S. Hispanics, explain what the People Meter does and show how Hispanic households are recruited as part of its TV sample. "It's important to let people know what we do, so that when a Nielsen representative knocks on their door they would feel comfortable with it," said Monica Gil, who also holds the title of Nielsen VP-communications and community affairs.

Separately, independent U.S. Hispanic agency Lopez Negrete Communications, Houston, was tapped to launch a Hispanic public-relations and brand-awareness campaign for the company's measurement services and technology, including an introduction to People Meters.
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