As one of the world’s biggest advertising company’s Goggle’s bread and butter is the collection on data about what users do when they are on the internet and how they can then use this data to help advertisers get their message to the right people. Till now the user data that Google collects (while there are numerous claims otherwise) is broad and unidentifiable stats gained from any Google product that you may use. This changed today with the announcement of Google Screenwise. Google Screenwise is a new program where in their own words Google would like you to;
“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 this you will receive up to $25 in Amazon gift cards, $5 at sign up, and another $5 every three months for a year. In addition to this there is also a second level to this program involving a hardware instillation (see below) on your home network for which you will receive $100 at sign up, and $20 every month you stay in the program.
Image source: www.engadget.com
So why is Google doing this? The answer is simple really, they want user data to help improve their various products, and people are willing to submit it for the right price.
“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.”
As with most subjects of this nature, there is already a large group of people outraged at Google both at why they need this information and where it will end up. While it would be unwise to jump into this program without first looking into it, the reality of the situation is that it is completely optional and the people involved will be receiving compensation. Looking at it in the most simple way, there is very little difference between this and what Nielsen has been doing with our TV’s for years.