OPINION31 October 2011

Google looking to make research ‘faster, more accurate, more affordable’

Google is testing a new paywall-esque concept that asks questions of online readers before giving them access to content.

Researchers have long mused on the potential of Google as a market research provider, in part fearing the day it decides to get serious about surveys. One-fifth of respondents in a recent study by Cambiar predicted that Google or Facebook would be leading the industry by 2020. Now it seems Google is testing the water.

The Nieman Journalism Lab draws our attention to a new concept Google is toying with. “Google appears to be experimenting with a new paywall-esque content roadblock for publishers,” writes Justin Ellis. He calls it a ‘survey wall’ because “instead of dollars the system asks readers a question before they can move on to continue reading what they like”.

Google says it’s just one of many experiments it runs with publishers to test new ways of engaging with readers or presenting content.

But clicking “Learn more” on one of the question tabs takes you to a statement that reads:

“Your opinions matter. Answering the quick question here gives you near instant access to the page you want for free. You don’t have to pull out your wallet or sign in, companies gain insight into what people think, and the publisher earns money as site visitors provide answers. Everyone wins.

“It’s all part of a new product under development to make market research faster, more accurate and more affordable.”

Interested parties can sign up to be a trial partner and run their own questions here. If any readers take Google up on its offer, do let us know what you find out.

(Hat tip to @kantarmedia_uk, whose retweet brought the Nieman post to our attention.)