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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