There are dozens of great passive income ideas. Some generate enough to live off of, while others are a way to make an easy $50 a year in extra cash without doing much work.
The Nielsen Computer and Mobile Panel app falls into the second of those categories.
You won’t pay your mortgage by signing up, but it’s an easy way to make a little bit of spending money.
In this Nielsen Computer and Mobile Panel review, you’ll learn:
- What Nielsen Research is.
- How the Panel app works.
- Whether it’s really a source of passive income.
- How you get paid.
- The pros and cons of installing the Panel app on your computer and/or mobile device.
What Is Nielsen Research?
You’ve probably heard of Nielsen Research. It’s the large, publicly-traded company best known as the producer of the Nielsen TV Ratings, which are an important factor when networks decide which shows get canceled and renewed each year, and how much to charge for advertising on each program.
Nielsen has been conducting market and consumer research since 1923, and the company collects data on much more than just people’s television habits. It also analyzes things like what products we buy and what websites we visit.
Nielsen then sells its market research data to other companies. This information is extremely valuable because it helps brands improve their products, services, and programming — giving consumers like us more of what we want and less of what we don’t.
It’s a win-win-win: Nielsen makes a profit, brands improve their products, and we consumers end up happier.
But on top of getting better goods and services, we can also get paid for providing our data and opinions to Nielsen.
What is the Nielsen Computer and Mobile Panel?
The Nielsen Mobile Panel is an app designed to track how people use their internet-connected devices, like smartphones and tablets. In some countries, this app is called the Nielsen Digital Voice Panel.
Why is this information valuable? One example is online shopping, which accounts for over 14% of all retail sales — a figure that’s growing every year with no signs of slowing down.
Online retailers of all sizes are competing fiercely for a bigger slice of the pie, and consumer data is an important tool that helps them understand trends in things like spending habits, shifts in styles, and purchasing patterns.
This information allows retailers to adjust their product offerings to better align with what consumers are looking for. It also helps them better target their online advertising.
As you can imagine, this drives up sales and drives down advertising costs. That’s why retailers are willing to pay Nielsen for the data. And why Nielsen will pay you for access to it.
The Panel App Is a Source of Passive Income
There are many passive income apps available, but some of them are more passive than others.
For example, many require you to search the web to make money from home, and while doing so isn’t exactly burdensome, it does require your time.
At the very least, you have to remember to use the right search portal to earn credit. It’s far from the set-it-and-forget-it revenue stream that a true passive income app should provide.
Nielsen Computer & Mobile Panel is perhaps the most truly passive of all the legit money making apps out there. It pays you for simply installing the app on your mobile device.
The app works silently in the background, collecting data about your internet behavior and sending it to Nielsen.
Your data is stripped of any personally-identifiable information and mixed together with the information collected from other panel members.
Once installed, you likely won’t even remember the app is there. App usage doesn’t slow down your device performance or drain your battery.
Also, it doesn’t matter how much or how little you use your device. The app collects whatever data is available and rewards you the same regardless.
What Does the Sign-Up Process Look Like?
Signing up for the Nielsen Computer and Mobile Panel is free, fast, and easy.
Any service that offers passive income should be free to join, and you should never have to provide your credit card information. Nielsen passes both of those checks.
To get started, you simply:
- Sign up and confirm your email address.
- Answer a few questions about your demographic information.
- Indicate how many devices you have, and which ones you want to register (you’re not required to register them all).
- Install the app on your devices.
I went through the entire sign-up process for this review, including installing the app on two devices. It took me just 15 minutes.
Note: For this or any of the other money-making apps you might use, I suggest signing up with a secondary email address. This keeps your regular email account from being cluttered up, as some sites are a little heavy-handed with their email outreach and others sell email addresses to third parties. While that’s not the case with Nielsen, using an alternate address for all your online money-making accounts is still a recommended practice.
What Information Does Nielsen Collect?
Some people are understandably wary about allowing an app to harvest their data. Keep in mind that with Nielsen, your name is not tied to the data that’s collected; you stay anonymous throughout the process.
However, the app does collect the names and birth dates of the members of your household. This is to identify your demographic profile and household composition, as some demographics and living situations are more sought after by brands than others.
Historically, people aged 18-34 are the most valuable demographic because they have disposable income, and when captured at the younger end of that range are more likely to become “brand loyal” for decades.
The Nielsen app collects data about:
- The websites you visit.
- How long you stay on those sites.
- The time of day you visited.
- Your general online activity and internet usage.
The app also collects the date, time and length of phone calls — but not the numbers you call or the numbers you receive calls from.
Additionally, it collects information about your registered device’s battery and network performance (such as how good the signal quality is and whether calls dropped).
Equally important as what Nielsen collects is what it doesn’t.
- The app does not collect Social Security numbers, banking details, or user IDs and passwords (i.e., the kinds of details identity thieves love).
- It also does not collect the content on the websites you visit (such as information you input into forms when shopping online).
- None of your identifying information is sold to third parties — not even the parties buying the anonymous data.
- Finally, all of the data your computer and devices transmit to Nielsen is encrypted. That means you’re taking a much bigger risk just by using a public, unsecured Wi-Fi network.
To be frank, Nielsen collects a lot less data than many other websites and services you probably use on a regular basis. One example is Facebook, which has come under fire for mining your personal details to help its advertisers market to you effectively.
You can learn more about what information websites collect — and how to better protect your privacy — in this report from investigative journalist Aaron Sankin.
How You Get Paid
When you’re looking for passive income ideas, you want to make sure that whatever time is required to get set up is worth the reward, and that you’ll actually be able to collect that reward when you’re ready to cash out.
If a service has an unreasonably high minimum withdrawal amount, you might never see a dime and end up handing over your data for free.
Nielsen uses a points-based reward system for people who install the app on mobile devices. Users accumulate points, which can be redeemed for gift cards to retailers like Amazon, Target, and Starbucks.
You can keep track of your points on your profile page. You’ll need to accumulate about 800 points (which is equivalent to $5) before you can cash out. There is unfortunately no option for cash via PayPal, but you can always use a site like Raise to sell your gift cards.
Points are added to your account monthly, and you can earn up to $50 in rewards each year. Of course, there must be some activity on the devices you register. Otherwise, there is no data for the app to collect.
Note: The $50 earnings cap is total, not per device. If you install the app on an iPhone, an Android phone and an iPad, you can still only earn $50 — not $150.
You can also install the app on a laptop or desktop computer, but the payout is a little less tantalizing. Each month, you’ll be entered into a sweepstakes. Nielsen gives away $10,000 per month split among 400 winners. The two top winners each get $1,000. The rewards vary from country to country for users outside the U.S.
If you have the app installed on both a mobile device and a desktop computer, you can earn points and monthly sweepstakes entries at the same time.
If you’re looking for truly passive extra income ideas, you’ve found one!
- Beyond the 15-minute registration and installation process, this is legitimately passive income. The app is just chilling in the background, earning you free money.
- The Nielsen mobile app can be used on more than one device.
- There are a number of gift card options for major retailers.
- The points threshold to cash out is relatively low, and you don’t have to wait the full year from the date you join to redeem your points.
- The data is collected anonymously by a reputable company.
- Some of the data collected relates to mobile hardware, software and battery life, meaning the data you allow the Nielsen company to collect will improve future mobile devices.
On the other hand, there are some legitimate things to consider before signing up.
- There is no cash option for redeeming points.
- Depending on your country, you may only be eligible for monthly sweepstakes entries rather than gift card rewards.
- Some people may not feel comfortable allowing an app to collect their data. That’s a reasonable concern, but keep in mind that the data does not include any personal information.
Nielsen Panel FAQ
The app works on both laptop and desktop computers, all Apple devices running iOS 8 and higher, and devices running Android 4 and higher.
The app is currently available in the United States, Australia, Germany, Hong Kong and the United Kingdom. All users must be 18-years-old or older.
With Nielsen, you earn points that can be converted to gift cards for popular retailers. The maximum amount per year you can earn in gift cards is equal to $50 per year, regardless of how many devices you register.
The app automatically collects information about your internet usage for market research purposes. You’re never asked to complete a survey or answer questions about your internet behavior.
Nielsen Families, which is a separate opportunity from the Nielsen Computer and Mobile Panel, allows households to earn money by completing surveys. Unfortunately, there is no way to sign up to become a Nielsen Family. The company chooses households at random for this process, as described in this article on their website.
Nielsen is safe. First, know that Nielsen is a legitimate, publicly-traded company that’s been around for over 90 years. It has an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau.
Second, they only collect non-sensitive information through the Nielsen mobile app (i.e., no Social Security numbers or credit card information).
Additionally, all the information passed along to Nielsen is encrypted, which means it’s converted or coded into a unique language only Nielsen can understand. It’s also stripped of any personally-identifying information.
Lastly, they do not sell your personal information to third parties; they only sell data that has been fully anonymized.
Nielsen Panel Review: Final Thoughts
Earning up to $50 a year in gift cards is not a bad reward for the minimal effort required.
And if you combine the Nielsen Computer and Mobile Panel with a few other easier ways to earn free gift cards throughout the year (such as these paid survey sites), it’s possible to create a decent stream of side income.
But you’re looking for something with earning potential that goes beyond a little extra cash, check out these side hustle ideas.