Google Wants to Pay You to Browse

Chrome wasn't built in a day, but for some enterprising browser users it may be billed through the year.

Google (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) is rolling out a program called Screenwise, consisting of a user panel that will kick the tires of the search giant's fledgling Chrome browser. There hasn't been an official announcement, but you know how things go in cyberspace. Ever since Search Engine Land broke the story yesterday, countless others are passing on the link to the Screenwise signup page.

Gee. I guess I just did, too.

Why would someone willingly want to download a browser extension that will "share with Google the sites you visit and how you use them" in these privacy-weary times? Well, Big G is hoping to make it worth your while.

Google will pay accepted panelists $5 for installing the browser extension. It will then continue to reward active Screenwise panelists with another $5 every three months during the full year of the program.

In an interesting move, Google will be paying panelists in Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN  ) gift codes even though the online retailer has no connection to the browser tracking research. Wouldn't it have been easier to shell out $5 in Google Wallet credit? It could've killed two fledging birds with one stone.

Some will wonder if Google is paying users as much as $25 to ooze data or simply stick to Google's Chrome browser.

Does it seem desperate?

Others have resorted to financial incentives in Google's stronghold of search.

Does anyone remember Amazon's 1.57% (half of Pi) shopping discount for users of its now defunct A9 search engine? It lasted nearly two years before being abandoned ahead of the 2006 holiday shopping season.

More recently, Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) tried to put its new search engine on the map with 2010's short-lived rollout of Bing Rewards.

Whether users are handed cash or points that can be redeemed for prizes, there are folks that will be motivated only if money is involved. The success of United Online's (Nasdaq: UNTD  ) MyPoints stems entirely from folks beginning their online shopping experiences through the portal to earn points through select merchants that can be exchanged for gift cards.

It remains to be seen how many panelists Google is hoping to land through Screenwise or how visitors will react to Google in general and Chrome in particular if the applications grow so unwieldy that most interested users get shut out.

There's no shame in paying for leads. After all, isn't that the value proposition that Google offers its advertisers?

If you want to follow Big G developments as they happen, add Google to My Watchlist.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz calls them as he sees them. He does not own shares in any of the stocks in this story. Rick is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.

The Motley Fool owns shares of Google, Microsoft, and Amazon.com. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Google, Microsoft, and Amazon.com. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended creating a bull call spread position in Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.


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  • Report this Comment On February 09, 2012, at 2:33 PM, tgauchat wrote:

    Bing rewards was a great deal ... I managed 20% off a rather hefty HP computer purchase.

    But $5.00 for 3 months? Do people have no sense of how little money that is?

    I would consider the program at $50 / month: Or free broadband ISP with at least 10mps and no caps.

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