Frequently asked questions

Learn more about joining or participating in a Nielsen panel or survey, as well as how we protect your information when we use it for our ratings.

When you join a Nielsen panel or survey

Can I volunteer to join a Nielsen panel or survey?

It depends on the panel or survey. Some, including our TV and radio panels, are scientifically selected, and we don’t take volunteers. However, we have several panels and surveys that you can join now. Learn more about Nielsen panels and surveys where you live >

Who do you select for panels and surveys that don’t take volunteers?

Nielsen panels need to include many different populations and communities. It doesn’t matter if there’s one person in your household or 10, if you live in a city or a rural location—anyone could be selected. People who work for Nielsen, their immediate family members, domestic partners, or members of their household, as well as people who work in the media, cannot be members of the panels.

I received mail from Nielsen. Is it legitimate?

Yes. Nielsen sends mail to homes with invitations to complete short surveys on your media and consumer habits or to join our panels. Mail from Nielsen may include a survey that can be completed online, filled out and returned via mail, or done over the phone. 

What if a Nielsen representative visits my home? 

Our highly trained Nielsen Representatives want the chance to tell you about the exciting opportunity to participate in a Nielsen panel or survey. All of our representatives carry a Nielsen photo ID badge to identify them. If you are unsure about the person at your door, you can contact us.

Do I have to pay to join?

Joining a Nielsen panel or completing a Nielsen survey costs you nothing.

When you participate in a Nielsen panel or survey

What do I get for participating in a Nielsen panel or survey?

Compensation for participating varies by panel and survey. However, many of our panels and surveys offer gifts for your continued participation.

Can I talk about being in a Nielsen panel or survey?

No. Once you begin participating, we ask that you do not share that you’re part of Nielsen research. We ask that you do not discuss your role with people outside of your household, including on social media websites, such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. This helps keep our research as independent as possible.

What are former Nielsen Families saying about their experiences?

”Being a Nielsen Family felt like it brought our own family closer together. We already loved watching TV, but this made it a lot more exciting.” -Jackie

 “I enjoyed participating because the [Nielsen] employees became like family.” -Matthew

How Nielsen protects your privacy

How does Nielsen protect my privacy?

Read more about Nielsen’s Privacy Principles. Prospective Nielsen panelists will also be given detailed information about how we collect and use their data before they decide to participate.

How did Nielsen get my contact information?

We use a combination of publicly available telephone, address and Census information to select homes in order to invite households to join our panels and surveys.

How is my information kept private?

We are committed to protecting the personal identifying information you provide us. We will use the information about you and your household for research purposes. Read more about our privacy principles.

Will Nielsen try to sell me anything, or sell my name and address to marketers?

Absolutely not. The information from your home is held strictly confidential—we will not use it to advertise, promote or sell goods and services directly to you, and we do not allow our clients to sell directly to you.

How the information you provide informs Nielsen Ratings

What are Nielsen Ratings?

We use information about who watches and listens to content, like music and TV shows, to get the Nielsen ratings. A rating is the percentage of a specific population that saw, heard or engaged with a piece of content or an ad.

What are you measuring to get Nielsen Ratings?

Nielsen measures live content, on-demand and DVR and streamed content. This includes basically anything that comes through your TV or radio, as well as much of what comes through other types of devices like your smartphone.

How do Nielsen Ratings work?

Our measurement devices pick up audio codes in content to know what is being viewed and listened to. We collect the data rigorously, then use a combination of science and statistics to get the ratings.

Are ratings the same as reviews?

No, they aren’t—ratings and reviews are very different. Nielsen Ratings only show viewing and listening behaviors that we measure, but reviews are opinions and can come from anyone. Our ratings are also not the same as parental movie “ratings,” which review a film’s content to understand if it’s appropriate for viewers of different ages.