Google is quietly taking requests from web users who want to get paid to surf the web using the Chrome browser while sharing data with Google. The program is called Screenwise and, though we’re not aware of any official announcement, Google has a signup page at www.google.com/landing/screenwisepanel.
The page explains that Google wants to create a panel of people to help it “learn more about how everyday people use the Internet.” It explains that panel members have to be at least 13 years old, have (or sign up for) a Google account and use the Chrome web browser. They also have to be willing to let Google track their web surfing activity:
As a panelist, you’ll add a browser extension that will share with Google the sites you visit and how you use them. What we learn from you, and others like you, will help us improve Google products and services and make a better online experience for everyone.
In exchange for that, panel members get a $5 Amazon gift card code for installing the browser extension, and then can earn another $5 Amazon code for every three months that they continue in the Screenwise program. The sign-up page advertises a $25 max total payment, but the fine print says Google will decide later what payment, if any, will be given for panelists who continue longer than a year.
Amazon isn’t involved in the promotion; Google says it’s using the online research firm Knowledge Networks as its “panel management partner” for Screenwise.
We’ve reached out to Google for more information about the Screenwise panel/program and we’ll update this article if we learn more.
(tip via @centernetworks)
Postscript, February 8: Google has replied to us with this official statement about the Screenwise program:
“Like many other web and media companies, we do panel research to help better serve our users by learning more about people’s media use, on the web and elsewhere. This panel is one such small project that started near the beginning of the year. Of course, this is completely optional to join. People can choose to participate if it’s of interest (or if the gift appeals) and everyone who does participate has complete transparency and control over what Internet use is being included in the panel. People can stay on the panel as long as they’d like, or leave at any time.”
Postscript #2, February 8: It appears this isn’t the only piece of Google’s Screenwise program. As Ars Technica has learned, there’s a more extensive version of the program in which web surfers participate by installing a “high-end router” called the Screenwise Data Collector.
Ars Technica has several images of the signup process and legalese for the Screenwise program, including this shot of the data collection device.
(image via Ars Technica)
This version of Screenwise pays better: $100 on signup, plus $20 per month up to one year’s involvement.
The legalese also reveals that Google may share the data it collects with “academic institutions, advertisers, publishers and programming networks,” in addition to sharing it with Knowledge Networks, the program’s manager. Google says that “generally” its data won’t be linked to individual users, but it “may share anonymized individual-level Panelist data with academic research institutions.” It also says that “Google will attempt to remove personally identifiable information before sharing Panel Data with third parties.”