Our History

PSB Insights was started in the 1970’s as a US-based political pollster. As early as the 1990’s, PSB was advising high-level corporate clients, and today most of our work is in the global corporate, government, and policy space.


Recognizing a need in the market for advanced modeling leveraging machine learning and generative AI capabilities, PSB Insights acquired long-time partner, Stratesci, an advanced analytics firm founded by Rob Kaiser.

PSB Insights launched the 15th year of the annual ASDA’A BCW Arab Youth Survey, the largest study of its kind of the Arab world’s largest demographic – its over 200 million youth.

Peter Horst retires, and Dave Gordon is named as PSB Insight’s CEO.

PSB Insights moves from Burson to Specialty Communications (Spec Comms) within WPP.

During the pandemic, PSB Insights partnered with a pharmaceutical organization to understand consumer perceptions and needs related to Covid-19. PSB Insights provided guidance on a strategic framework for the pharmaceutical industry, bolstered by weekly and monthly focus groups with consumers and policy influencers.

PSB Insights works with The Ichikowitz Family Foundation to launch the African Youth Survey to provide governments, private sector and society with insights into the aspirations, motivations, and viewpoints of Africa’s youth.

Peter Horst is named CEO and the company rebrands as PSB Insights shortly thereafter in 2020.

PSB leads a successful bid to become the agency of record for the US Census 2020 communications campaign, working alongside other agency partners at WPP. From 2017 through 2020, PSB conducted over 130 focus groups in 12 languages and in 36 states and territories, surveyed over 145,000 people in nationally representative surveys, and carried out two national market segmentations to generate tailored audience insights. PSB’s findings guided the decisions that drove a successful $700 million communications initiative that resulted in more unassisted responses to the 2020 Census via internet, phone, and mail than in 2010 – despite the challenges of a global pandemic environment. ​

PSB works with Ford on a redesign of the famous F-150. When Ford was preparing to introduce the redesign, featuring an aluminum body, they brought on PSB to determine the most effective messages to promote the new F-150 while neutralizing any potential attacks on its durability and safety. By describing the materials as “military-grade aluminum alloys” and emphasizing that the same materials are used by the US Military in their advanced attack vehicles, Ford was able to position their #1 selling vehicle as the toughest truck on the market.

PSB establishes a presence in Dubai.

PSB expands the entertainment and media division by acquiring First Movies International, an entertainment market research company.

In July 2012, Mark Penn leaves PSB, and is succeeded by Jay Leveton as CEO.

From 2010-2018, PSB partners with Time, The Atlantic, Nestle, and The Aspen Institute to conduct an Annual American Values Survey. The research covers a wide range of topics and perspectives from the American public and results are presented at the annual Aspen Ideas Festival.

PSB was brought on to run Fannie Mae’s National Housing Survey, a monthly survey of consumers about the housing market, which informs the Home Purchase Sentiment Index®, or “HPSI” – designed to provide signals on future housing outcomes.

In 2007 and 2008, PSB provides Clinton with polling, direct mail, and other services for the Democratic presidential nomination.

PSB opens offices in London and Los Angeles.

Penn is brought on by then-Prime Minister Tony Blair to provide advice for the upcoming UK general election. He becomes part of the Labour Party’s election team, working on a strategy to gain voters who would traditionally have voted for the Conservative Party. The strategy helped Labour, with Blair in leadership, to win a third term for the first time in the party’s history.

PSB is hired again by Bloomberg for his re-election campaign in 2005. The firm provides “voter-list development” and creates “the most sophisticated database ever developed for a municipal election”, according to The New York Post.

PSB carries out research for McDonald’s in the UK when the company was concerned about negative public opinion following the release of the film, Super Size Me. The results informed a campaign focused on food quality.

That same year the company opens offices in Seattle, WA.

PSB is acquired by the London-based media and communications company, WPP Group. Later this year, the company builds up its media and entertainment practice. Major entertainment and media clients include Disney, Paramount Pictures, and Condé Nast. PSB then becomes a division of Burson-Marsteller (now Burson) and part of the Young & Rubicam group of companies.

In 2001 and 2005, PSB provides polling for Michael Bloomberg’s New York mayoral campaigns.

PSB works with Hillary Clinton on her successful campaign in 2000 to become New York’s junior senator.

PSB consults with Microsoft (a client since the mid-1990’s) when the company faces antitrust litigation by the Department of Justice. PSB creates the famous “blue sweater” advertisement that featured Bill Gates, which was intended to restore trust in the company amidst the litigation.

Around this time the MLB was deciding whether to pursue geographic realignment of teams. PSB carries out research including surveys and focus groups of fans, finding that a majority of fans are in favor of such realignment.

This same year the company opens offices in Washington D.C.

For the firm’s work on Clinton’s 1996 election, Time magazine dubs Penn and Schoen “Masters of the Message” in an article focused on the campaign and their influence.

This same year the company opens offices in Denver, CO.

PSB begins advising for Bill Clinton on his day-to-day communications and his 1996 reelection campaign.

PSB advises AT&T to help refocus the phone company and to compete with upstart MCI’s “Friends and Family” plan. The research includes polling data on lifestyle and behavior and new (at the time) “mall testing” methodology for competitive advertising. PSB’s research informs AT&T’s “True” plan and its $200 million advertising campaign. As a result of this campaign, by the end of 1994, AT&T signed up 14 million new long-distance customers.

Michael Berland joins, and the company becomes known as Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates, as it begins to increasingly focus on corporate clients.

Penn & Schoen conduct polling for the presidential campaign of Luis Herrera Campins in Venezuela. Because Venezuela did not at that time have universal phone coverage, Penn partnered with Venezuelan polling firms to go door-to-door to collect interviews. He also helped the campaign develop the slogan “Ya Basta,” or “Enough,” critical of the incumbent party’s spending policies. Herrera carries the election by about 3%.

Mark Penn and Doug Schoen open the doors to Penn & Schoen in a single office in New York City. They become the pollsters for congressman Ed Koch’s second run for mayor of New York City. Seeking a way to conduct polls more quickly than the typical mainframe and punch card system, Penn purchases a “microcomputer” kit and created a program that could compile polls in a fraction of the time. This becomes the first “overnight poll” system.