GfK MRI Data Methodology FAQs


How do I find out when the fieldwork was conducted for a given GfK MRI study?

All of the fieldwork dates are listed on our website, Click on the GfK MRI Shortcuts tab and select Wave Dates. Here you can find fieldwork dates, what waves comprise a particular study, and the month the study was released.


How many waves of data are included in an GfK MRI study?

This depends on the study in question. Fall GfK MRI and Spring GfK MRI are both two-wave studies; Doublebase GfK MRI is a four-wave study. Teenmark and Twelveplus are four-wave studies (as they are based on a recontact of selected households from four waves of fieldwork).


What information is available on the GfK MRI pocketpieces, and where can I get them?

There are three GfK MRI pocketpieces for each Spring or Fall study. The Magazine Audience Estimates pocketpiece contains a list of the GfK MRI measured and released magazines with total audiences, median age and income, circulation, and readers-per-copy numbers for each. The Cable Table contains the list of GfK MRI measured and released cable networks with median age and income, as well as composition by gender, age, prof/managerial, 1+ years of college and presence of children. Cyber Stats contains standard demographic composition (gender, education, age, employment, census regions, HHI, occupation, county size, marital status HH size and presence of children) against those who have Internet access and those who have used the Internet in the past 30 days. GfK MRI distributes printed versions of the Magazine Audience Estimates pocketpieces to all clients who request them; also all three pocketpieces can be downloaded for free from the GfK MRI Plus web site. Just register for the site, enter, and click the link to “pocketpiece data.”


How can I find out the release date for the next GfK MRI study?

GfK MRI does not announce official study release dates more than a couple of weeks in advance. However, release sequences are usually very similar from year to year, so you can estimate the release date based on the previous year.


What is the release sequence for an GfK MRI study?

The media and demographic data is always released first for any given study. The product data is released approximately 10-12 weeks following the initial demo and media release.


What studies comprise a Doublebase study?

Doublebase is a combination of the two most recent Spring surveys (for four consecutive waves). For more information, consult the bottom of the Wave Dates page, under GfK MRI Shortcuts at


How do I know which GfK MRI study to use?

The major determinants of which study to use are the status of the most recent studies (that is, where in the release cycle they are), the type of data one needs, and the importance (or lack thereof) of a large sample size. If a large sample size is required (because, for instance, you’re using a narrow target or examining an activity with a low incidence) or brand volume data is part of the equation, you should use a Doublebase study. If the target or activity is large enough to remove sample size as a consideration, you should consider the most recent Spring or Fall studies, as those are drawn from more recent fieldwork. In short, the best study will be the most recent one that has all the data you need.


How do I find the actual wording of a given GfK MRI question?

The most recent product questionnaire and personal interview booklet can be downloaded from our website under GfK MRI Shortcuts.


What does GfK MRI ask in the personal interview?

The GfK MRI personal interview covers most of the media measurement (the exception being specific TV programs) in the GfK MRI survey. Prominent among the media measured in the personal interview are magazines, national newspapers, radio, TV (overall usage of TV and TV daypart usage, as well as cable networks, but not individual programs) and the Internet. The GfK MRI interview is also where GfK MRI obtains all demographic information for the respondent and other members of the household. Business-to-business decision making questions as well as public activities are also asked in the personal interview. The personal interview can be found online at under GfK MRI Shortcuts.


What does GfK MRI ask in the product questionnaire?

The majority of the GfK MRI product book is devoted to usage of products and services, but it also contains TV program viewership, psychographic and lifestyle questions. GfK MRI provides printed copies of each wave’s questionnaire to all GfK MRI clients upon request. You can also find it online on under GfK MRI Shortcuts.


What is GfK MRI’s response rate?

Response rate numbers vary each wave. Generally, GfK MRI gets interviews in about 60% of the households approached. Of the interviewed households, about 60% return product books that are complete enough to be accepted. You can find more information on response rate in the GfK MRI Tech Guide, which can be found on under GfK MRI Shortcuts.


What is ascription?

If an interviewed respondent does not return a completed product questionnaire, GfK MRI ascribes his or her product usage, TV program viewership and lifestyle information. This means that when GfK MRI is confronted with a respondent who does not complete the product questionnaire, we find the closest demographic and geographic match who has completed the questionnaire and copy that person’s questionnaire data to the record of the respondent who has not completed the questionnaire. Ascription using demographics is effective for accurately predicting product usage, TV program viewership and most psychographic information. Only the Lifematrix and VALS questions are not ascribed and a customized weighting and base must be used in those cases.


How does sample-balancing work?

No matter how well designed, any sample of a population is likely to differ somewhat from the population being measured, and GfK MRI’s sample of the adult population of the 48 contiguous U.S. states is no exception. In order to correct for differences, GfK MRI uses a statistical method called sample-balancing, which is designed to remove demographic differences between the GfK MRI sample and the projected population by adjusting the relative weights of each individual according to his or her demographic characteristics. GfK MRI sample balances to the US Census and other known population statistics.


How does GfK MRI measure television?

GfK MRI provides three separate measures of television: (1) tv viewing by daypart, (2) weekly hours viewed of particular cable TV networks, and (3) viewership of specific TV programs. To measure total usage of television, GfK MRI asks respondents how many half-hours of TV they watched (regardless of whether it was network, cable, syndicated or local TV) during defined time periods for both weekday viewing and weekend viewing. For cable networks, GfK MRI shows the logo for each network, and, if the respondent indicates that he has viewed the network in the past 30 days, he is asked how many hours of that network he or she has watched in the past 7 days. The TV program information is asked in the product questionnaire: respondents indicate whether or not they viewed the most recent airing of each program, and, if they have, they are asked where they watched it and how much attention they were paying.


How does GfK MRI measure radio formats and radio dayparts?

GfK MRI does not ask respondents about radio formats or networks. GfK MRI asks respondents which stations they listened to during defined dayparts, and, using industry information, GfK MRI determines which formats and networks the respondents listened to.


How does GfK MRI measure magazine readership?

During the personal interview, GfK MRI uses a four-step process to measure magazine readership. The first step, called a six-month screen, eliminates those publications that the respondent has not read in the last six months. In the second step, the respondent is then asked about the frequency of reading (on average, out of four issues published, how many does he or she read?). The third step determines whether the respondent qualifies for the publication’s average issue audience, determined by whether or not he or she has read the publication during its most recent publication period (for example, if the magazine is published weekly, has the respondent read or looked into it in the past 7 days?). In the final step, the respondent is asked about more detail (where read, how obtained, etc.) on the magazines for which he or she has qualified as part of the average issue audience.


How does GfK MRI measure daily newspaper readership?

Starting with a pre-list of national daily newspapers as well as the local newspapers published in the area of the interview, the interviewer inquires whether or not the respondent has read them in the last 7 days; the respondent is also invited to tell the interviewer any other newspapers he or she has read during the same period. For any daily newspapers read in the last 7 days, the respondent is then asked about frequency of readership (on average, out of five issues published, how many issues does he or she read) and whether or not the publication was read yesterday (which determines average issue audience). If the respondent qualifies for average issue audience, he or she is asked where he or she read it, and how it was obtained.


How does GfK MRI measure Sunday and weekend newspaper readership?

Starting with a pre-list of national newspapers with Sunday and weekend editions as well as the local Sunday/Weekend newspapers in the area of the interview, the interviewer inquires whether or not the respondent has read them in the last 4 weeks; the respondent is also invited to tell the interviewer any other Sunday or weekend newspapers he or she has read during the same period. For any Sunday or weekend newspapers read in the last 4 weeks, the respondent is then asked about frequency of readership (on average, out of four issues published, how many issues does he or she read) and whether or not the publication was read the most recent Saturday or Sunday (which determines average issue audience). If the respondent qualifies for average issue audience, he or she is asked where he or she read it, and how it was obtained.


How does GfK MRI measure Sunday magazines (Parade, USA Weekend, etc.)?

GfK MRI does not measure readership of the Sunday magazines directly. If the respondent has read a Sunday or weekend newspaper that carries the specific Sunday magazine, then the respondent is considered a reader of that Sunday magazine.


How does GfK RI get the carrier lists for the Sunday magazines?

Carrier lists for each of the Sunday magazines are provided to us by the specific Sunday magazine (e.g. Parade, USA Weekend, etc.)


How does GfK MRI measure outdoor?

GfK MRI’s measure for outdoor is based on the respondent’s estimate of the number of miles he or she has traveled as a driver or passenger in an automobile in the past 7 days.


How does GfK MRI conduct the Teenmark fieldwork?

During the personal interview for the adult (18+) study, GfK MRI asks the name and age of all individuals in the household. After the conclusion of the adult fieldwork, GfK MRI mails a questionnaire directly to all teenagers identified in the 4 waves which make up the Doublebase study. Included in the questionnaire are all the media, product usage and psychographic questions that GfK MRI reports in the Teenmark study; there is no personal interview for the teens. GfK  MRI reports the data points in common between the past two questionnaires (this year’s and last years), producing a four-wave teen recontact study.


What’s the difference between Teenmark and Twelveplus?

Teenmark contains all the questions we ask the teenagers; Twelveplus includes only those things that we ask both the teens and the adult respondents. Because the Twelveplus study includes both teenage and adult respondents, it has the largest sample of all GfK MRI studies, bigger than Doublebase, which only includes adults.


How is the GfK MRI Twelveplus study compiled?

By combining all the compatible data gathered from the teen and adult fieldwork. The data on 18-year olds and 19 year-olds gathered from the Teenmark questionnaire is excluded in favor of the higher-quality data gathered from the 18 and 19 year olds in the adult survey.


What is the definition of “head of household”?

The respondent is asked to designate which person in the household is considered the “head of household” during the personal interview. No explanation or definition of “head of household” is given; the respondent is expected to interpret the phrase and apply it as he or she sees fit.


What is the definition of “principal shopper”?

In the GfK MRI Product Questionnaire, the “principal shopper” is defined as “the person who does most of the shopping for groceries and other household items.” That terminology determines who is given the task of answering the “principal shopper” section of the questionnaire, which includes “products used by or for the entire household.” Such products include (but are not limited to) food, paper products, baby products, cleaning products, and pet products.


What is a “respondent principal shopper,” and why is this significant?

As the name suggests, a “respondent principal shopper” is someone who not only participates in the personal interview, but also fills out the household products section of the questionnaire. When the principal shopper is also the respondent, all the data in the adult survey is drawn from the same person. Marketers consider principal shoppers to be the point-of-purchase decision-makers for items that are purchased for the entire household. To properly compare the purchase decisions of these people with their media habits, it is common practice to restrict one’s base to “total principal shoppers", excluding both the media data contributed by non-principal shoppers and the household purchasing data contributed by principal shoppers who did not participate in the personal interview.


How do I code for all college graduates?

The education questions are asked by “highest degree received.” Therefore, you can isolate college graduates by “netting” or “orring” together the codes for Bachelor’s degree (an Associate degree is not considered enough to qualify) with all the post-graduate degrees (Master’s, Professional degree and Doctorate). In other words, “all college graduates” includes those whose “highest degree received” is either a Bachelor’s degree, a Master’s degree, a Professional degree or a Doctorate.


When I combine those with “full-time” employment status and those with “part-time” employment status, I only get about 65% of the population. Why is that number so low?

Employment statistics only include those who are either actively employed or seeking work; in other words, students, retirees, full-time homemakers and those who are not seeking work for reasons of disability are excluded. These groups make up about 35% of the adult population, leaving only 65% of the adult population to be included in the job market.


How do I code specifically for top management?

In the demographics section (Section III) of any GfK MRI national study (Spring, Fall or Doublebase) codebook, under “Respondent Job Title” GfK MRI provides several codes for isolating top managers: President, Vice President, Treasurer, Chairman of the Board, Member of the Board, Comptroller, General Manager, Owner-Partner, or Manager. There is a very useful summary code for “Top Management” defined as “Professional/Managerial with IEI $35,000+ and job title code 1 through 8 or job title included in C-Suite 1,” referring to the titles listed here from President through Owner-Partner or C-Suite 1 title.


How are A, B, C and D counties defined?

A, B, C and D counties are defined by Nielsen. We print the Nielsen definition in the demographic section (Section III) of our national study (Spring, Fall, Doublebase) codebooks. As of this writing, County A is defined as: All counties in the largest metropolitan areas, which together account for 40% of US households accourding to the 2000 Census. County B: All counties in the next largest set of metropolitan areas which together account for 30% of US households according to the 2000 Census. No non-metropolitan counties are large enough to qualify as A or B counties. County C: All counties in the next largest set of areas-including both metropolitan areas and non-metropolitan counties-which account for 15% of US households according to the 2000 Census. County D: All remaining counties.


Under “race,” I only see “white,” “black,” “Asian,” and “other.” Why isn’t “hispanic” an option?

The U.S. Census Bureau does not treat “Hispanic” as a race, and neither does GfK MRI – race and “Hispanic” are two independent characteristics. Qualification for “Hispanic” in the GfK MRI fieldwork is determined by the respondent’s answer to the following question: “Do you consider yourself to be of Spanish or Hispanic origin or descent?”


How do I find out which areas are included in a specific Census region, subregion or marketing region?

This information can be found in Section III of any GfK MRI National Study (Spring, Fall or Doublebase) codebook, which can be found on under Online Codebooks, in the GfK MRI Shortcuts tab.


Is it possible to isolate specific media markets using the GfK MRI national study?

Yes, it is. Since GfK MRI intentionally oversamples the top ten 'mediamarkets', we are able to publish these in a special “Local Market” add-on to the Doublebase study. The GfK MRI Local Markets include Boston, Chicago, Atlanta, Detroit, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, Dallas/Ft. Worth, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. GfK MRI Local Markets require a special subscription. You can call the Client Services Helpline or your sales rep to determine if you have access or to get subscription information.


What does GfK MRI Local Market data include?

GfK MRI Local Market allow subscribers to run any GfK MRI national study data point against the local market base. Also included are local media (such as local newspapers, TV and radio stations) that are not included in the national study, as well as local retailers.


What is a “GfK MRI standard category”? What is a “non-standard” category?

The concept of a “GfK MRI Standard Category” was born out of the recognition that certain products (particularly traditional packaged goods) follow a consistent pattern of usage. Toothpaste and Orange Juice, for instance, share certain qualities: those people who use them can be expected to do so constantly, and to be able to estimate the number of times they do so during a week. In both categories, there are different types; in both categories, there are a variety of competing brands. Non-standard categories include everything that doesn’t fit such a mold, such as big-ticket items (cars, personal computers) and services (financial services, insurance).


In a standard category, how does GfK MRI determine the usage breaks between heavy, medium and light users?

These breaks are determined by creating a distribution of recent usage at the time that the category is initially included in the GfK MRI National Study. GfK MRI divides users into three distinct groups that are as even as possible, with those users who indicated the highest usage levels combined into the “heavy” group, those with the lightest usage combined into the “light” group, and those in between combined into the “medium” group.


How is the GfK MRI Kids Study compiled?

The GfK MRI Kids Study is a recontact of Doublebase households that reported having children ages 6-11 in residence. Each household receives one questionnaire for the parent to fill out and one for each child. Included in the questionnaire are demographic information for the child, media, magazines, lifestyle and products.


How is the 6-19 database compiled?

By combining all the compatible data gathered from the teen and kids fieldwork.


Where can I access the GfK MRI codebooks?

All GfK MRI codebooks are available online. Go to select GfK MRI Shortcuts and then Online Codebooks.


What are the GfK MRI release standards for magazines?

The release standards for a Spring/Fall study are: A magazine must be measured in 2 consecutive waves, have a minimum of 165 respondents and maintain stability between waves. The release standards for a Doublebase study are: a magazine must be measured in 4 waves of fieldwork, have a minimum of 225 respondents and maintain stability between years. All release decisions are GfK MRI's.


What are CBSAs?

CBSAs (Core Based Statistical Area) are defined by the Office of Management and Budget and have replaced the previous MSA designations starting in Fall 2006. A CBSA is a statistical geographic entity consisting of the country or counties associated with at least one core (urbanized area or urban cluster) plus adjacent counties having a high degree of social and economic integration with the core as measured through commuting ties with the counties containing the core. A metro area contains a core urban area of 50,000 or more population, and a micro area contains an urban core of at least 10,000 (but less than 50,000) population.


What is IEI?

IEI stands for Individual Employment Income. Only the respondent provides their individual income.


How are occupations defined by GfK MRI?

The occupation classification codes are defined by the Census. To get specific occupation definitions, please call the Client Services Helpline.


What are Media Quintiles?

Media quintiles are available for 7 media types: newspapers, magazines, tv, internet, radio, outdoor and yellow pages. For each medium the appropriate quantitative measure was developed for 5 equal groupings based on their usage of the media vehicle. To find the specific definitions for each quintile break, please refer to the online codebook on


What are the definitions for C-Suite 1 and 2?

C-Suite 1(net) includes: Chief Operating Officer, Chief Investment Officer, Chief Information Officer, Chief Purchasing Officer, Chief Marketing Officer, Chief Planning Officer, Chief Human Resources Officer. C-Suite 2(net) includes all job titles in C-Suite 1, plus CEO and CFO. You can also find the definitions in the online codebook on


Home Contact Us Careers Privacy Legal

© 2015 GfK Mediamark Research & Intelligence, LLC

For more information contact