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Google Reinvents Micropayments — As Surveywall 107

Posted by timothy
from the press-1-to-continue dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "Frédéric Filloux writes that eighteen months ago — under non disclosure — Google showed publishers a new transaction system for inexpensive products such as newspaper articles. It works like this: to gain access to a web site, the user is asked to participate to a short consumer research session: a single question or a set of images leading to a quick choice. It can be anything: pure market research for a packaging or product feature, surveying a specific behavior, evaluating a service, intention, expectation, you name it. Google's size puts it in a unique position to probe millions of people in a short period of time and the more Google gains in reliability, accuracy, and granularity (i.e. ability to probe a segment of blue collar-pet owners in Michigan or urbanite coffee-drinkers in London), the bigger it gets and the better it performs cutting market research costs 90% compared to traditional surveys. Companies will pay $150 for 1500 responses drawn from the general U.S. internet population. But what's in it for users? A young audience will be more inclined to accept such a surveywall because they always resist any form of payment for digital information, regardless of quality, usefulness, or relevance. Free is the norm. Or its illusion. This way users make micropayments, but with attention and data instead of cash. 'Young people have already demonstrated their willingness to give up their privacy in exchange for free services such as Facebook — they have yet to realize they paid the hard price,' writes Filloux. 'Economically, having one survey popping up from time to time — for instance when the user reconnects to a site — makes sense. Viewed from a spreadsheet, it could yield more money than the cheap ads currently in use.'"
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Google Reinvents Micropayments — As Surveywall

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  • by Mr. Kinky (2726685) on Monday September 10, 2012 @08:07AM (#41286409)
    This is an old idea. There already exist such services for webmasters (like ShareCash.org) and people universally hate having to fill surveys or fill forms before getting something. It's not even worthless stuff like news articles, some people put full movies (illegally, of course) behind such and people still hate it.

    And besides, if Google starts offering such service (again, these already exist and pay up to $1-2 per user, so much more than Google's $150 for 1500 users), the problems still continue. Users hate it and rogue webmasters put pirated content or fake aimbots and similar behind it, and people hate it even more.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      worthless stuff like news articles

      I fear for our future.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Mr. Kinky (2726685)

        worthless stuff like news articles

        I fear for our future.

        Actually, I have fully stopped following news. I don't notice any difference. The only news I get are from slashdot. I still don't feel like I'm missing anything.

        • by L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) on Monday September 10, 2012 @08:18AM (#41286479)

          Actually, I have fully stopped following news. I don't notice any difference. The only news I get are from slashdot. I still don't feel like I'm missing anything.

          You are. Do you know how I know that?

          I follow the news.

          • Besides science discoveries, what of any importance is reported by the news?

            If a person is aware of scheduled events they can read up on those topics (eg political activities, sport events, etc). It's really only late breaking details that might be missed and rarely are those so important as to require immediate attention.

            Just because you don't read news sites or watch the TV; doesn't mean you are uninformed.

            • by Simon Brooke (45012) <stillyet@googlemail.com> on Monday September 10, 2012 @09:09AM (#41286771) Homepage Journal

              Besides science discoveries, what of any importance is reported by the news?

              War. Pestilence. Famine. Death.

              The four horsemen of the apocalypse are already abroad in the world. And it matters that you know it. The electoral choices made by American people cast a long shadow - over the Middle East in particular, but over the world as a whole. And yet the US electorate is quite frighteningly ignorant of what happens beyond their borders. OK, I appreciate that part of the reason you don't read the news is that the principal news media available to you are on the whole dishonest, corrupt and trivial. But there are other news media (and news aggregators). The BBC, and many of the UK 'broadsheet' sites (e.g. [bbc.com]Guardian [guardian.co.uk], Telegraph [telegraph.co.uk]) are English language, well informed and honest (note: I did not say 'unbiased' - nothing human is unbiased). Al Jazeera [aljazeera.com] seems to be well informed and honest, too, and provides a usefully different perspective.

              If we carry on as we're going, global warming and with provoking conflict, war, famine and pestilence will arrive in the United States in your lifetime. You have a duty to be informed - a duty to yourself, as much as to anyone else.

              • Who reads the papers? [youtube.com].
              • Even if we all gave up all technology tomorrow, and lived in little huts made out of clay and ate bugs for every meal, global warming will still happen (and maybe even an ice age right after that - any scientist worth their weight in sea salt will tell you that the planet has been both much hotter and much cooler, and will continue to go through such cycles, including dramatic changes in atmospheric O2 content.)

                Even if we all became hippies tomorrow, wars will always happen. If not over oil, then over he wh

            • That's presupposing that the News is actually News instead of Entertainment as it is in the States. In other words, I don't consider it news when they interupt the damn weather forecast to show another idiot speeding the wrong fucking way on the damn freeway in L.A.. Hell it aint news to me when the interupt for the effen end of the world as I'm not a christian or someone who gives a damn about it. Just don't interupt my /. or god damn GW session

          • by Zero__Kelvin (151819) on Monday September 10, 2012 @10:44AM (#41287559) Homepage
            Maybe you actually beleive that you follow the news. Maybe you don't What you are getting is misinformation. I have been to numerous accidents as a Towing & Recovery operator in my youth, and they never once got the details right. I am aware of several occasions when stories were done and ... wait for it ... they got the facts completely wrong. Did you know that the only solution to computer virus issues is to suck it up and use an Anti-virus tool. There is no other choice. There is no such thing as Linux. I see it all the time on the news!

            Add to that that ethics has gone out the door quite some time ago, and you now get the newspeak version of every story that best supports their corporate/political agenda and I would be willing to bet my life that you are not getting the news. What you are getting is slanted misinformation which you wrongly take to be mostly factual, when in fact nothing could be further from the case.

            In other words, you are actually more misinformed than someone who doesn't pay attention to the misinformation. OTOH, if you are like most US Citizens then you won't let that little fact get in your way, because by now you have no doubt settled in on sources that tell you the stories you want to hear and believe.
            • I should clarify. I don't follow the news and then rely on it as my sole source of information about the world. I follow the news, then do a little digging around stories of interest using search engines and social media to find sources, and then see what they have actually said in context. Often you come across other news pieces which are of interest to you from the same source, and you find a new avenue of information relevant to your interests.

              You can follow mainstream media and not be suckered into be
        • by jxliv7 (512531)

          Having spend years reading newspaper(s) every morning for leads - like property purchases, planned construction, homes for sale ads in the classifieds, etc. - as a real estate broker I was pleasantly surprised when i got out of the business to find that reading the newspaper was an expensive, time-wasting, unnecessary, not-too productive habit. When news came online, nearly in real time, with enough details to satisfy any lingering curiosity, I stopped buying and reading them.

          Having decided that watching TV

  • Already seen these (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DNS-and-BIND (461968) on Monday September 10, 2012 @08:10AM (#41286431) Homepage

    Oh, man, do these suck. I got a "to continue to your content, please answer these survey questions!" box popup a couple of weeks ago. I just entered some fake responses as soon as I could and clicked 'submit'.

    Coming up next: survey responses that follow you around the internet, slowly building up a full profile. Erase your cookies, and it starts from the beginning all over again. Alternatively, it starts "personalizing" web pages for you based on your previous answers. I can only imagine what a web page would look like for a Latvian lumberjack who makes $10,000 or less per year.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I can only imagine what a web page would look like for a Latvian lumberjack who makes $10,000 or less per year.

      I can't; what would it look like?

    • by Jarik C-Bol (894741) on Monday September 10, 2012 @08:44AM (#41286607)
      I think the point of Google's system is its not 'answer these questions' (plural) its 'answer this single question' (singular). its meant to be fast and unobtrusive. 1 click and you are through. IF that is truly the case, then i can see there system working. Otherwise, its like you said, people just fake it, or leave, and find the information elsewhere.
      • IF [this proposed method adds only one click], then i can see there system working. Otherwise, its like you said, people just fake it, or leave, and find the information elsewhere.

        Yeah, that happened to me once. I was browsing the web on a laptop running Ubuntu, and a Google search led me to some forum that was using the survey wall system formerly known as CPALead. It gave three options for offers to complete in order to continue, all of which required installing a free trial of a video game. I tried each of them, and none of them would let me continue because only users of Windows-based browsers qualified to download a Windows-based game. I would have had to try to install a Window

      • by Zero__Kelvin (151819) on Monday September 10, 2012 @10:50AM (#41287667) Homepage
        People will give the wrong answer quite a bit of the time anyway.
      • by SB2020 (1814172)
        I've seen a similar approach used in on-demand TV (was on ITV.com IIRC). On attempting to skip an ad break a Quiz question came up - "Which of these services do (advertiser you are trying to skip) offer?" Get the right answer and you skipped the ad break and the advertiser gets confirmation that their ads are working. Get it wrong and you are forced to endure a further 3 mins of MIND CONTROL.
      • by pepty (1976012)

        its meant to be fast and unobtrusive. 1 click and you are through.

        If it is going to be 1 click then the fast and unobtrusive question will also have to be an efficient captcha, otherwise the system will be overrun by bots and faked accounts tasked to run up the bill.

        • by rtaylor (70602)

          It only needs to be as good as Adsense is at blocking fake ad clicks and views.

          Google already has everything necessary for this; or they're already in trouble.

      • answer these questions' (plural) its 'answer this single question' (singular)

        Well, I'm remembering how adds have been playing out: articles get spread out over several pages in order to show visitors more adds.

        I'm picturing: "Before reading page 2 of 10 of this ten paragraph article, please answer the following question."

        It makes good sense from the business side to implement this; users can't ignore it like they do with ads. Though, I'm sure after being annoyed with this system for a year, we'll click a radio button that appears before loading a webpage as automatically as we learn

    • I usually just close the window and go somewhere else. You have more tolerance for this stuff than I do.
  • If there's one thing internet users have plenty of, it's opinions. Plus, maybe it will improve the products I buy down the road.
    • by commlinx (1068272)

      If there's one thing internet users have plenty of, it's opinions.

      Opinions are like assholes. Everybody's got one and everyone thinks everyone else's stinks.

      ~~~~ Dirty Harry

  • Poison! (Score:5, Funny)

    by fitteschleiker (742917) on Monday September 10, 2012 @08:11AM (#41286437)

    I love poisoning the data of market researchers! :D

    • by macs4all (973270)

      I love poisoning the data of market researchers! :D

      You beat me to it!

      I was just going to say that giving deliberately deceiving answers is the best way to kill off this trend.

    • I love poisoning the data of market researchers! :D

      I know, damn those corporations asking you what you want. The bastards.

      • You make a great point. Whenever a market researcher stands in my way on the street and refuses to let me pass until I answer their question I am always highly appreciative and make certain to give them a thoughtful, well considered, and accurate answer.
        • You make a great point. Whenever a market researcher stands in my way on the street and refuses to let me pass until I answer their question I am always highly appreciative and make certain to give them a thoughtful, well considered, and accurate answer.

          Momentarily running fist-first would be an appropriate response... ;)

        • by Anonymous Coward

          A better analogy would be if they owned the street and you were trying to pass.

          What the hell is up with your entitlement? You're asking for stuff from them, and they're replying with their terms. Why do you then have to go and be a giant dick and fuck with the process? Especially in this case, where they're specifically looking for feedback on how to make products better.

          Douchebag.

      • by Yvanhoe (564877)
        We would be a bit more friendly toward these if these data were not then used as an unbalanced weapon.

        I will answer fairly (almost) any question, for free, if the results will be publicly published. I will ask to be paid or poison the data otherwise. Sounds fair, no?
        • by Anonymous Coward

          You're not answering it for free. You're answering it for access to the website. That's what you're being paid with. ... so yeah, it is perfectly fair.

          • by Yvanhoe (564877)
            Hey, I don't know if the content will be good, they don't know if their answers will be good. Quite fair.
      • I love poisoning the data of market researchers! :D

        I know, damn those corporations asking you what you want. The bastards.

        I tried to submit some opinions to a company once; only to get told that they only determine their product line up not by listening to people actually buying their products, but through the "focus group" method of marketing research. The problem is, their focus groups do not match their customers.

    • by KreAture (105311)
      The problem is, if people poison the data by randomely answering the poisoning cancels itself out by shear statistics.
      That's the whole point of using a large statistical basis in the research.

      But, if each survey is tainted by selecting an outcome and guiding tainters to always be posetive, negative or some other deterministic viewpoint we can really taint the data.
      • Re:Poison! (Score:5, Interesting)

        by dfm3 (830843) on Monday September 10, 2012 @09:44AM (#41287011) Journal
        Not exactly. It's been a while since I took a statistics course (actually, several) but it's understood that people are VERY poor at faking truly random data. For example, in the case above most respondents would almost consistently choose the wrong answer or the CowboyNeal option instead of the correct answer, which they should occasionally do if they are trying to submit a genuinely random response. Thus any data poisoning by individuals would tend to favor the less popular responses.
    • Really? Because I truly and sincerely hate all marketing materials. So if they ask me about my thoughts on their flashy new product box or logo and I tell them that I hate it within 1 second, that is completely accurate.
  • Forced analogy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by EdZ (755139) on Monday September 10, 2012 @08:12AM (#41286441)
    I wouldn't call this system "micropayment". It's more "adwall that you have to interact with to pass". You've swapped out watching a video for filling a survey, whoopee.
    • Exactly. What does the summary say? "The users make micropayments, but with attention and data instead of cash." This is no more a micropayment system than advertising is.

      • by fm2097ad (915698)
        You can use this service to have a non-intrusive micropayment system: imagine Wikipedia, add a simple donation page with a "surveywall" button, when a user presses it it goes to this survey system, once done there is no actual premium content only a "thanks!" page. Thus, no money required and you are donating to Wikipedia, although all of its content is still free.
    • Our government likes to tax everything, including bartering. I wonder if they'll start taxing us for bartering our opinions away?

  • by mounthood (993037) on Monday September 10, 2012 @08:29AM (#41286537)

    Summary is both Funny and Insightful: But what's in it for users? ...uhmm they'll tolerate it, because they're young, broke and already trained.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      or they might get off the Internet and go outside thereby making the world a better place. Hey, maybe google isn't evil after all.

    • by chrismcb (983081)

      But what's in it for users?

      Content

  • by Bogtha (906264) on Monday September 10, 2012 @08:30AM (#41286541)

    Trading survey answers for content is not micropayments. It's missing the micro part and the payment part. It's something that only the very young, very poor, or very bored will do, and as such, it's a) not going to get a representative segment of the market, and b) going to turn away a lot of your visitors. People tried this back in the 90s and nobody was interested.

    • Trading survey answers for content is not micropayments.

      It would be more fair to call it 'microbarter'. 'Payments' involves money or currency of some type (fungible consumption value being the important characteristic).

      • by rtaylor (70602)

        It's micropayment but not by the user viewing the content.

        The company performing the survey is making a small payment to the website so a random 3rd party (you) may view the content. The customer of the website is the company performing the surveys.

    • by chrismcb (983081)

      It's something that only the very young, very poor, or very bored will do, and as such, it's a) not going to get a representative segment of the market, and b) going to turn away a lot of your visitors. People tried this back in the 90s and nobody was interested.

      Depends on your definition of "very young." Id argue that in this case "very young" is pretty much anyone who grew up with the internet, probably 25 or less. While this is not a representative segment of "the" market (which market?) It does represent one of the marketers wet dreams (12 - 24 year olds) and a good chunk of the discretionary income. Not to mention that this "very young" will grow older with time. That is, most of the people who will freely give this information today, will also freely give it

  • by Fnord666 (889225) on Monday September 10, 2012 @08:37AM (#41286579) Journal
    It will be a race to see who can write the quickest/wittiest browser extension/plugin to automagically fill in these surveys. Once it becomes transparent to the users, the marketing data will be total crap. Bonus points though for the developer that gains market share, then flips the evil bit and tailors the survey results based on the what the survey customer wants to see.
    • Auto magical survey bypassing extension?

      I've got one for you: and it is completely, 100% FREE!!! First answer these quick questions before you download to help us improve the quality of this service...

  • If these projects just add a special "surveywalled" donation page, this can actually be a good thing for wikipedia and open-source projects. If someone wants to help and doesn't want to spend money you just have to link them an otherwise useless locked page. Now shareware and freeware stuff could also have it. Anyone who wants to donate, just go there. Everyone can still enjoy the content for free.
  • by Kartu (1490911) on Monday September 10, 2012 @08:48AM (#41286631)
    For what it's worth (and maybe a warning to others):

    1) Buy "World of Goo" using my PC (!) for my shiny new tablet and set up a "google wallet",
    2) 5 or 10 minutes later "congratulations, you've bought 5000 Happy Stars" for €8.99 (non-refundable), apparently my 5 year old kid clicked on something while playing "Sheeps & Clouds"
    3) Attempt to fight this, what I consider to be a legalized scam, ended with nothing

    In other words, if you set up google wallet 3rd party apps on Android OS can make payments without asking you for password or anything. It is amazing that it works that way since Apple had problem when remembering password for 15 mins. Google effectively "remembers" it forever, without even asking you once.
    • by h4rr4r (612664) on Monday September 10, 2012 @10:12AM (#41287221)

      Try blaming google less and consider it a cheap reminder to not let the tablet babysit your children.

      If you really don't want to spend the time watching them setup a PIN for inapp purchases.
      http://support.google.com/googleplay/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=1626831 [google.com]

      • by Bronster (13157)

        Let me guess, you have children?

        • by h4rr4r (612664)

          Oh wow, because I don't have children I should not be pointing out bad parenting?

          Next you will say I should tolerate your screaming kids out in public. I was a kid, I know what my parents did and how that worked. I can then see when your parenting is not working.

          • by Bronster (13157)

            I guess your plan is to tie your children (if you ever have them) up ever time you have to go to the toilet? You can't helicopter them 24 hours of every day - so you remove anything that's dangerous enough to kill them and let them explore their world.

            A tablet PC isn't dangerous except that you can spend a lot of money on it in ways which are DESIGNED to be attractive to kids. There's nothing else just sitting there in the house that can do it - even with an old-style phone it's pretty hard for a kid to d

            • by h4rr4r (612664)

              The computer is another one. I have seen the results of unattended children and amazon one click.

              • by Bronster (13157)

                Annoyingly, kids learn passwords really fast too - we haven't solved the problem that for at least the older parents today, technology wasn't a part of their lives growing up so much, and we don't have good processes for managing those risks baked into our habits.

                Things that can cost money online just don't have the tangibility of real cash... and I don't have a super-good solution for that. Even my older and pretty internet-savvy kids happily start watching youtube movies when given a moment to check thin

          • by Bronster (13157)

            You know what, I've seen your comments on other threads and sounding off about how other people live their lives without having walked in their shoes seems to be a theme. Oh well, carry on. Maybe one day you'll have kids and you'll realise that it's not quite the same as you imagined.

      • by chrismcb (983081)

        Try blaming google less and consider it a cheap reminder to not let the tablet babysit your children.

        Wow... how is this letting the tablet "babsit" your children?
        Perhaps I am sitting there watching my child play a game? The game pops up and says "Do you want to build the next floor for 10 bucks?" My child asks me, I look at the screen, and notice it is 10 pretend bucks. So I tell my child, yes. Then a few minutes later it says "Do you want to build the next floor for $100?" Again he asks, I say yes. It says "You don't have enough bucks, do you want to put $1000 for $10?" And he says yes... Is it my fault

      • by Kartu (1490911)
        Wow, "insightfull", really?
        So letting my child play a game DESIGNED FOR KIDS on a tablet, while sitting next to me, is "letting tablet babysit" eh? And that coming from a guy that apparently doesn't have kids...

        No I should not discover that buying stuff USING DAMN PC auto-enchants 3rd party apps on my Android devices to charge me for whatever they decide to. Whoever came to that idea, knowing Apple's experience on this, is a damn idiot in my opinion and I can't trust company that is so frivolous with my
    • by Anonymous Coward

      cheap lesson, turn off wireless before handing devices to kids unsupervised....

  • So when will someone write a Firefox plugin to automatically answer these surveys? Of course, you shouldn't answer any survey with what you are, alway answer with what you want to be. That way it's apsirational.
  • Microsoft's idea seems much like DoubleRecall, except there's a twist where they hope they can filter bad responses well enough to get useful statistics from survey responses. DoubleRecall just makes you retype advertiser's words.

  • This actually looks like a pretty reasonable way to handle micro payments.

  • Not interested in taking surveys all the time. And, 1500 for $150 sounds like a lot but is just 10 cents per person.
    What might work is to be a low-margin middleman, their customer being individual content creators.
    Could be a writer, a lone musician, a film-making project, a kickstarter project, a reddit-savvy game creator, a Public Lab spectroscope project, etc. Someone who is putting content on the web, for sale, but with a large or 100% free component. A band could host their music video as a torrent thus

  • If people want to get to something right now and you delay them, the answers will be rushed, random crap. That's just how the internet works. If people complain all the time about even having to type in "robo-scrambly letters" then I think think they're going to sit back and give insightful, carefully thought out answers when they want to read a news story instead.
  • Ah yes, like the warez sites use to infect your machine... Yeah, I'm all for it...

    Why don't these people just have the government mandate hardware keyloggers and direct access to our bank accounts so they can take what they think is a fair price for their content?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    That's it, force people to click on your ads.... isn't this what we use to do even though it was against Google's own TOS. Now your taking the shrwed ideas and making them your own. I'm glad you get the big bucks.

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