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YouGov plc
Public limited company
Traded as LSEYOU
Industry Market research
Opinion polling
Founded 2000
Founders Stephan Shakespeare
Nadhim Zahawi
Area served
Key people
Stephan Shakespeare (CEO)
Peter Kellner (President)
Roger Parry (Chairman)
Revenue £76.1 million (2015)[1]
£8.6 million (2015)[1]
Number of employees
638 (2015) [1]

YouGov is an international internet-based market research firm, headquartered in the UK, with operations in Europe, North America, the Middle East and Asia-Pacific.[2]

YouGov was founded in the UK in May 2000 by Stephan Shakespeare and Nadhim Zahawi. In April 2005, YouGov became a public company listed on the Alternative Investment Market of the London Stock Exchange.[3]

Stephan Shakespeare has been YouGov’s Chief Executive Officer since 2010.[4] Its Chairman since 2007 is Roger Parry, replacing political commentator Peter Kellner who now serves as President of the company.[5] YouGov's former Chief Executive Officer Nadhim Zahawi resigned from the board to stand in the 2010 General Election and is now a Conservative Party MP for Stratford-on-Avon.

YouGov is a member of the British Polling Council.


YouGov specialises in market research through online methods. The company’s methodology involves obtaining responses from an invited group of internet users, and then weighting these responses in line with demographic information. It draws these demographically-representative samples from a panel of 4 million people worldwide including over 750,000 people in the UK.[6] As YouGov's online methods use no field-force, its costs are lower than some face-to-face or telephone methods.


YouGov has claimed that its opinion polls are most accurate when compared to its competitors and in particular that its online methodology is more accurate than traditional polling methods.[7] Critics have argued that, as not all of the public have access to the internet, online samples cannot accurately reflect the views of the population as a whole.[8] YouGov counters that they have a representative panel and they are able to weight their data appropriately to reflect the national audience that they are aiming to poll.[9]

During the United Kingdom general election 2005 campaign, most traditional polls reported Labour's support in the range from 38 to 41%, compared with the 36% it achieved on polling day. In contrast, YouGov's nine polls during the final three weeks of the campaign all showed Labour on 36 or 37%, although GfK NOP (published in The Independent) gave the most accurate forecast in their final poll before the election.

During the United Kingdom general election, 2015 campaign, the final predictions of all pollsters (including YouGov) underestimated the Conservative lead over Labour. Consequently, The British Polling Council announced it was setting up an independent enquiry to look into the possible causes of this apparent bias.[10]

During the London mayoral election, 2008 campaign, a YouGov poll placed Boris Johnson 13% ahead of the incumbent Ken Livingstone. Livingstone's campaign team branded the poll "fundamentally flawed", arguing that it failed to take account of London's larger ethnic minority population compared to the rest of the country, and saying that it would complain to the Market Research Council of Great Britain.[11] Ipsos MORI and ICM polls put the candidates neck-and-neck.[12] A subsequent poll was derided by Livingstone as "a transparent attempt by the Evening Standard/YouGov to give Boris Johnson a more credible lead".[13] However, Livingstone never made the official complaint that had been announced to the media, and in the event, YouGov's final poll showing Johnson in the lead by 6% was the only accurate prediction.[14]

YouGov’s final poll on the London mayoral election 2012 showed Boris Johnson beating Ken Livingstone by 5% in the first round, and by 6% (53%-47%) in the second round.[15] The final outcome saw Johnson lead by 4% in the first round, winning the election by 4% (52%-48%) after second preferences were re-allocated.

Two weeks before the Scottish independence referendum, 2014, a YouGov poll indicated that the vote would be much closer than anticipated.[16] The YouGov poll gave those in favour of independence 47% versus 45% for those against; after excluding those undecided, the figures were 51% and 49%, respectively. In the last few days of the campaign, polls indicated a lead for No of 4-6%. Soon after polling stations had closed, YouGov released a final poll that had been taken during the day of voting, indicating 46% Yes, 54% No. The actual result was 45% Yes, 55% No.

During the French presidential election, 2012 campaign, YouGov predicted François Hollande would achieve 30% of the vote and Nicolas Sarkozy 26% (the actual result was 29% and 27% respectively).[17]

During the United States presidential election, 2012 campaign, on the basis of one of the most extensive opinion polls ever conducted, YouGov predicted that Barack Obama would win the national vote by 2%.[18] This prediction proved to be one of the most accurate out of all pollsters covering the election.[19]

As well as political predictions, YouGov is known for its accurate predictions relating to popular culture. For example, in 2002 YouGov’s prediction of a victory for Will Young in the UK Pop Idol (series 1) contest gave YouGov its first major media attention having been the only research organisation to get this right.[20] In 2012, YouGov correctly predicted a win for James Arthur (singer) in the 2012 The X Factor (UK series 9) contest. In a poll of The X Factor watchers conducted before the final weekend, YouGov accurately predicted that James would be crowned the winner, Jahmene Douglas would be the runner-up, and that Christopher Maloney would be eliminated on Saturday night.[21] According to the X-Factor, the Saturday voting numbers were 52% for James, 32% for Jahmene, and 17% for Christopher. YouGov’s figures were James 50%, Jahmene 35%, and Christopher 15%.[22] In January 2013, YouGov accurately predicted the volume of global Apple iPhone sales.[23]


In 2006 YouGov began expanding outside the UK through acquisitions and acquired Dubai-based research firm Siraj for $1.2 million plus an eventual earn out of $600,000. In 2007 they added Palo Alto, CA based US research firm Polimetrix for approximately $17 million, Scandinavian firm Zapera for $8 million and German firm Psychonomics for $20 million. In 2009 and 2010, YouGov expanded its US operations with two acquisitions; first buying Princeton, NJ research firm Clear Horizons for $600,000 plus an earn out of $2.7 million, then Connecticut-based research firm Harrison Group for $6 million with a $7 million earnout. In 2011, YouGov acquired Portland, OR-based firm Definitive Insights for $1 million with a potential $2 million earn out. In 2011, YouGov made its first organic expansion by opening an office in Paris, France. In January 2014, YouGov entered the Asia Pacific region with the acquisition of Decision Fuel for an estimated consideration of approximately £5 million.[24]

See also[edit]

United Kingdom[edit]

United States[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "YouGov Preliminary Results 2015" (PDF). Retrieved 2015-10-12. 
  2. ^ "YouGov offices". Retrieved 2015-05-31. 
  3. ^ "London Stock Exchange - YouGov". London Stock Exchange. Retrieved 2015-05-31. 
  4. ^ "Zahawi stands for parliament and steps down as yougov ceo". Research Live. 2010-02-22. 
  5. ^ "Parry takes post at YouGov". The Guardian. 2007-01-15. 
  6. ^ "YouGov Panel". Retrieved 2015-05-31. 
  7. ^ "YouGov Panel Methodology - research Q&A's". Retrieved 2015-05-31. 
  8. ^ "Livingstone criticises YouGov". Pink News. 2008-04-07. 
  9. ^ "YouGov Panel Methodology". Retrieved 2015-05-31. 
  10. ^ "Independent inquiry into why the preelection polls were so inaccurate". The Independent. 2005-05-08. 
  11. ^ "Mayor makes complaint against YouGov over polling". The Guardian. 2008-04-07. 
  12. ^ "Livingstone leads Johnson in latest poll". The Guardian. 2008-04-09. 
  13. ^ "London: Mayor & More". Dave Hill (The Guardian writer). 2008-05-01. Retrieved 2015-05-31. 
  14. ^ "Boris and YouGov Triumphant". MrWeb. 2008-05-06. 
  15. ^ "Final poll puts Boris Johnson ahead by six points in Mayor race". The Standard. 2012-05-03. 
  16. ^ "YouGov poll finds rapid shift in favour of Scottish independence". The Financial Times. 2014-09-02. 
  17. ^ "What happens after France's first election round?". BBC News. 2012-04-23. 
  18. ^ "U.S. Election: YouGov Poll In UK Says Obama Will Win". Huffington Post. 2012-11-05. 
  19. ^ "Which pollsters to trust, in one chart". Washington Post. 2012-11-07. 
  20. ^ "Internet polling gets to heart of the matter". The Telegraph. 2002-04-27. Retrieved 2015-06-17. 
  21. ^ "YouGov gets it right on X-Factor". 2012-12-10. Retrieved 2013-09-29. 
  22. ^ "The X Factor voting numbers revealed HERE!". ITV. 2012-12-09. Retrieved 2013-09-29. 
  23. ^ "Perception Scores Show Samsung, Apple at Parity". Forbes. 2013-01-17. Retrieved 2013-09-29. 
  24. ^ "Acquisition of Decision Fuel". Investegate. 2014-01-09. Retrieved 2014-01-20. 

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