Did You Get $2 in the Mail From Nielsen Survey? Here’s the Deal…

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If you’ve ever wished you could get paid to watch TV, you’ll be one happy camper if a Nielsen survey invitation shows up in your mailbox!

A Look at the Nielsen Survey

How would you like to have the opportunity to shape what gets seen on local TV and heard on local radio stations? That’s exactly the chance the Nielsen media study offers people all across America.

I was surprised when I recently received an enticement in my mailbox to sign up for the survey — along with some cold, hard cash and the promise to earn more just for registering.

Here’s what I found out about the Nielsen survey when I started researching it after they sent me two dollar bills…

Table of Contents

Is the Nielsen Survey Legitimate?

Yes, in fact, you may already be familiar with the name “Nielsen.” It’s become synonymous over five decades with the production of ratings for TV and radio. As the company notes online:

“Nielsen is a leading research company, nationally known for producing radio and TV ratings. We’ve been in business for over 50 years. We measure radio and TV audiences across the country. Our only business is research.”

What Is the Purpose of the Survey?

As noted above, Nielsen helps radio and TV programmers gain insights into what people actually watch and listen to.

To do so, Nielsen must gather responses about viewing and listening habits from representative households across the United States. That’s why it does direct outreach to randomly selected households to participate in its survey.

Ultimately, the surveying that Nielsen does directly helps determine the top radio and TV programs each week.

How Was I Selected for Participation?

The method Nielsen uses to select potential households is completely randomized.


“All possible phone numbers and addresses are considered, much as the winning lottery numbers are selected,” the company notes in its FAQs. “Because all possible number combinations are eligible for selection, homes with listed and unlisted telephone numbers are represented.”

Translation: It’s just dumb luck if you get the invitation!

Because the method of selection is so random, there’s no way for you to sign up for the Nielsen survey or to otherwise volunteer yourself. However, there are two related Nielsen panels you can sign up for:

  • Computer and Mobile Panel – Receive up to $50 annually after registering your mobile device. Plus, you’ll be entered to win a monthly sweepstakes.
  • Consumer Neuroscience Labs – Receive $75 for 45 minutes to an hour of your time. You can do a new study every three to six months.

Reminder: The two opportunities listed above are separate and distinct from the Nielsen TV and radio survey.

How Much Does the Nielsen Survey Pay?

The pitch for the Nielsen survey comes with two fresh, crisp dollar bills. The $2 is yours to keep whether you respond to their initial battery of questions or not.

If you do choose to return the survey, you’re promised another $5.

That’s a total of $7 you can earn for very little effort!

What Types of Questions Will I Be Asked?

When you’re selected as a potential Nielsen household, you’ll get a mailer with a battery of 16 questions.

Nielsen survey questions
Nielsen survey questions
  1. Which types of TV shows do you watch regularly?
  2. In a typical day, about how many hours of TV do you watch?
  3. What is your favorite TV show or channel?
  4. In a typical day, about how many hours of radio do you listen to?
  5. What type of radio programming do you listen to most often?
  6. What is your favorite radio station or program?
  7. Do you have access to the Internet?
  8. Do you have a cellphone?
  9. Is there a landline phone in your home?
  10. What at home, how frequently does anyone answer the landline phone in your home?
  11. Do you or does anyone in your household work for a radio, TV or cable company?
  12. Is anyone in your household of Spanish, Hispanic or Latino origin?
  13. Which language is spoken most often in your home?
  14. Is anyone in your household…? (racial demographic question)
  15. Including yourself, how many people living your home are…? (age question)
  16. Including yourself, please indicate the total number of people currently living in your household that fall into each category below… (age/gender question)

What Does Nielsen Do to Protect My Privacy?

Anytime you get a solicitation out of the blue offering to pay you for your opinion, it’s likely to raise some privacy concerns.

Nielsen does collect personal identifying information (PII) on you if you choose to participate in their studies. But they swear up and down that they’ll never let any of their clients market to you directly.


Again, according to the FAQs:

“We are committed to protecting the personal identifying information you provide to us. We will NOT use such information to advertise, promote or sell goods or services directly to you, and we do not allow our clients to sell directly to you.”

Additionally, Nielsen gives you the right to review, correct, update, suppress or otherwise limit their use of your PII. Simply email the company if you have concerns about the way your info is shared at any time.

Meanwhile, you can view their complete privacy policy here.

Final Thought

It used to be that Nielsen had participants record their viewing habits in a paper diary. But over the last couple years, the company has made strides to replace that outdated data-collection method.

Today, using a combination of “advanced meter technology, big data and people-powered panels,” Nielsen has completely overhauled how it collects metrics in 208 local markets.

That said, becoming a Nielsen household probably isn’t for you if you’re creeped out by the idea of somebody monitoring your media consumption patterns.

As for me, I’m pocketing the $2 and will consider completing the questionnaire to collect another $5 in cash. I don’t know about you, but that’s the easiest $7 I’ll have made in a long time.

Meanwhile, there are still ways you can get paid to offer your opinion on a variety of topics — even if you’re not contacted by Nielsen.

Check out our articles on MTurk and SurveyJunkie here and here, respectively, to get started. Both offer the opportunity to take quick surveys to earn small amounts of cash. It can all really add up over time!


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