A new Google project called Screenwise is offering web surfers the chance to get paid to surf the web and help "make Google better." You have to search the web using the Chrome browser and share your data with Google, according to the signup page.
Google is also collecting information via a black router (the Screenwise Data Collector) that users can install on their home network to measure Internet usage, according to Ars Technica. People who go this route will earn more money – $100 for joining the panel, and $20 for each month of participation.
The Screenwise page explains that Google is creating the program to "learn more about how everyday people use the Internet." To participate you have to be at least 13 years old, have a Google account, and use the Chrome web browser. You also have to be willing to let Google track your online 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," according to the website.
As an incentive for signing up, Google has offered a $5 Amazon gift card to install the browser extension. Participants will earn an addition $5 Amazon gift card for every three months they continue to participate in the Screenwise program, up to a total of $25 in Amazon gift cards
Google makes it clear that Amazon isn't involved even though everyone gets Amazon gift cards! The online research firm Knowledge Networks is the “panel management partner” for Screenwise and will be conducting additional analysis.
“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," according to a Google spokesperson. "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.”
Seems there's been plenty of interest, as a note on the Screenwise page tells visitors that they are "overwhelmed by your interest at the moment. Please come back later for more details."