Updated at foot of post.
A new Google project named Screenwise looks set to offer Amazon vouchers in return for information about your browsing habits.
While it doesn’t appear to have launched officially yet, a landing page highlighted by Search Engine Land notes that “Google is building a new panel to learn more about how everyday people use the Internet.”
Screenwise will work via a Chrome browser extension which Google will use to track the sites you visit and how often you visit 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,” the landing page says. You can enter your email address on the page if you’d like to learn more.
In return, the company is offering up to $25 in Amazon vouchers via a partnership with online research firm Knowledge Networks. The first $5 will be awarded upon signing up, with an extra $5 every three months after that, indicating that the programme is set to run for at least a year.
Interestingly, Google registered screenwisetrends.com on 27 January this year according to GoDaddy’s records, although it doesn’t yet direct to the landing page. Although Google doesn’t appear to have officially acknowledged the site yet, a quick Google search shows that it’s being promoted via a number of deals sites like this one around the Web.
To Google, information is king – the more it has about you, the better it can target the ads that form the bulk of its revenue. Generally, it has been able to glean all it needed from data collected via users’ searches and other logged behaviour across its sites. Giving away vouchers is an interesting new tactic.
We’ve contacted Google for more information and will update if we hear any official word back.
UPDATE: A Google spokesperson sent us the following:
“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.”