Meet Stacie de Armas, Nielsen’s Data Evaluation Specialist

Stacie De Armas Nielsen BELatina Latinx
Photo courtesy of Stacie De Armas.

You’ve probably heard of the Nielsen Report. The annual audience insights report takes a cross-channel look at what’s really getting into the hands of information consumers.

Nielsen measures behavior across all channels and platforms to discover what audiences love and offers insights to drive change.

BELatina had the opportunity to speak with Stacie de Armas, Nielsen’s SVP Diverse Consumer Insights and Initiatives, about their work and its importance to the Latino audience.

Data is just the beginning

“I think when people typically hear Nielsen, they think of TV ratings, they think of ratings for the Super Bowl or ratings for, you know, the Golden Globes or ratings in general,” de Armas told us, “But what they often don’t also know is that Nielsen does social and economic research as well. In addition to measuring audiences and what they are watching and what they’re listening to, we also take a really deep look at content attributes of content representation within content and themes of content.”

According to de Armas, Nielsen is able to measure and present data that aids decision-making in mainstream media.

The company focuses on social and economic information around people, seeking to better understand audiences. In the case of de Armas, her work consists of the bricolage process of data evaluation.

In short, both de Armas and her team are responsible for ensuring diversity, not only in the research and narratives they put out into the industry but also internally and in the way they monitor, measure and evaluate systems, products, and audience data.

With more than 23 years at Nielsen, de Armas is an experienced Latina in audience diversity, particularly Spanish-language audiences.

Nielsen data 01 BELatina Latinx
Image courtesy of Nielsen.

The Importance of Accurate Information

At a time when misinformation is so dangerous to the Latino community, it is only fair to ask: What does Nielsen’s work really consist of?

As Stacie de Armas explained, it’s a complex sampling process where Nielsen makes sure that the sample is essentially a “mini-version” of the total population.

“Think of it as a big pot of soup. You might get a couple of carrots, but you’re going to get a sample. I can taste the broth. I know if it’s good or needs more salt. I don’t have to drink the entire cauldron to know the flavor of that soup.”

In other words, the Nielsen data are more than accurate. They reflect the ever-changing population, which is also apparent in their annual reports.

What are Nielsen’s latest findings?

In its latest audience report, Nielsen not only looked at sports or influencer data but made an effort to reach across all areas, different businesses, and data sets and put together a complete picture of the behavior and needs of the Latino community.

“We do this report once a year, and we stretch our arms really across the organization — both in the U.S. and globally — to acquire data to contextualize some of the changes and movements that we see taking place within the community,” de Armas explained. “This year’s report is called Inclusion Information and Intersection, and we subtitled it The truth about connecting with U.S. Latinos.”

Nielsen data 02 BELatina Latinx
Image courtesy of Nielsen.

“What we attempted to do with this report is — and I think we did successfully — was to really dive in and show some of the color and the flavor of the data that we have and the storytelling. We explore ethnic plurality and intersectional representation in both as a community and in content,” de Armas continued.

“We talked about the power of connection and some of the changes that we’re seeing with Latinos connecting with content, regardless of their language, proclivity, or language usage rate. The idea that content really is king, for lack of using sort of a trite term, but the magic that is content.”

According to the Nielsen report, 2021 was full of narratives. It demonstrated the great diversity of Latino community segments that have not been deeply explored, such as Afro-Latinos or the LGBTQ+ Latino community.

According to de Armas, this information can set the magic of content in motion, engage audiences, and build trust.

Nielsen data 03 BELatina Latinx
Image courtesy of Nielsen.

How Nielsen fights misinformation

Even when the scientific process of data collection is accurate, misinformation and false sources still exist out there.

So how can a company like Nielsen help in the fight against disinformation?

According to de Armas, it’s all about assessing channels, truth, and trust in the content being distributed through their technology partners, who help them look at what is known as false rank scores.

“Latinos have a greater vulnerability due to the greater reliance on encrypted technology,” de Armas explained, “We use technology that is encrypted things like Telegram and WhatsApp to share and connect with each other and with content. We do this because of the privacy they offer and because when you’re connecting obviously with people you know, out of the country, it’s simple. There’s no cost.”

“What ends up happening is a lot of that content is below the line. So, it’s it isn’t subjected to content moderation. And so, information moves very quickly in these places where there isn’t anybody to fact check if there isn’t an easy way to even fact check it right, your messaging it around.”

In fact, according to de Armas, the amount of time Latinos spend with these technologies is higher than what is seen in other communities. Thus, the inordinate use of technology increases the likelihood of misinformation spreading within our community.

In their report, Nielsen compared adults over the age of 18 and their use of these different technologies with Latinos in general, finding that Latinos use them much more often and communicate in Spanglish, making it more difficult to gauge the veracity of information.

The solution? Ensure that the content is truthful, and advise the mainstream media on what the community really needs in a language that transcends the barriers of misrepresentation.

“Where I think Nielsen’s role is and we’re still advancing on this path today is not just bringing forward the data, but tying it to audience metrics or performance delivery, because it’s one thing to say this is what representation looks like, and it’s another thing to be able to tie representation in front of or behind the camera directly to performance, like more representative content yields, higher box office, more representative talent yields, higher ratings representation behind the camera leads to better representation on screen leads to ratings.” de Armas concluded. “When you can tie it to revenue, then the industry perks up.”