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Google Consumer Surveys as an option to Adsense for your website

Updated on December 12, 2014
Pcunix profile image

I was born in 1948 and spent most of my career as a self employed computer trouble shooter for Unix systems.

We all hate ads

Ads are sometimes useful, enjoyable or even funny. Unfortunately, they can just as easily annoy your website visitors enough to drive them right off your page. Publishers don't really like ads either: they take up space and sometimes interfere with a preferred layout of text and pictures. In some cases, the ads can be competing with what the website sells or can express political opinions that the site owner or visitors may find odious.

There was once hope that some sort of micropayment system could replace website advertising, but that has not proven to be successful. It seems like we are stuck with ads forever!

Google is well aware of all this

Google knows we don't like ads. In fact, they have an interesting pilot program right now that offers you the option of paying a nominal monthly fee to avoid ads at certain websites ( see Contributor by Google ). But that only applies to a small number of websites.

As Google makes its money through advertising, you might find that odd. It seems unlikely to succeed, as it would have to be ubiquitous to be worth the charge. Google is trying to pitch it as a way to contribute to your favorite websites, but if that's what we wanted to do, why not do it directly. Indeed, many sites already offer a totally ad free version in exchange for a subscription - why would they want Google to take a cut?

Consumer Surveys

You are probably aware that companies are willing to pay for survey data. There are sites that specialize in that alone; you sign up with them, you take surveys, they pay you.

Google entered that market in 2012, but rather than them sending you surveys to take, Google puts the survey on participating websites. Part of the content on the page is blocked. The visitor has three options:

  1. They can skip the survey. The hidden content will be revealed but they may see another survey should they visit another page at the site.
  2. They can answer one question. They won't see another survey at this site for 24 hours.
  3. They can answer more questions and not see another survey for a longer period.

I'm test driving this on a few pages at my main tech site. Here's what it looks like to a visitor:

What a visitor to my website first sees on a survey enabled page
What a visitor to my website first sees on a survey enabled page

The redacted text shows as gray lines below the survey itself. Note that the option to skip the survey is quite obvious, but it might not be clear to your visitor that this option will reveal the hidden text. If that is the case, they may just leave your page.

On the other hand, it's easy to just answer the question. If they do choose to do that, the page changes:

What they see if they answer the question
What they see if they answer the question

The hidden text has appeared, but the visitor is presented with more options. This is another point where annoyance could flare up. While the "No Thanks" option is quite visible, some visitors might not notice that the text they paid for with their previous answer is now visible. They might throw up their hands and abandon you here.

If they do click "No Thanks", then they'll see the normal page:

Normal page displayed
Normal page displayed

What would your reaction be?

Would you be apt to leave the page if you saw a survey like this?

See results

Surveys pay very well

If your visitor does answer any questions, you as the site owner get 5 cents per question answered added to your existing Adsense account. You don't have to have Adsense running on the pages, but you do need an Adsense account.

That COULD be a lot of money. A thousand survey answers would pay $50.00. It's pretty hard to squeeze $50 worth of Adsense from fifty times that number of visitors.

But will your visitors answer questions?

Not all pages are right for surveys

I think it should be obvious that you need the right type of pages to have any hope of success with these surveys. Opinion pages and general babbling is not going to work. The pages where it might work is where the page answers a specific problem or question. The harder it is to find that answer anywhere else on the web, the more chance that visitors will be willing to give up those few precious seconds to think and respond.

You also have to carefully consider how much information you want to give away before hiding the rest. If you don't give anything, the visitor may assume there is no value in those gray bars. If you give too much, they may attain what they needed and quickly leave.

Note that you do control how much is redacted: you can hide a paragraph or two in the middle of your article if that works best for your needs.

Google wants results

Google won't let you run these surveys if your visitors do not use them. If your visitors don't at least answer questions 10% of the time, Google may deactivate your account (the survey part, not your Adsense). That's another reason to think carefully about which pages will display surveys.

My site is in "test" mode right now. During that time, Google uses fake surveys and measures engagement . These pay nothing. If I do well, then they will start putting up real surveys and pay for answers.

What about your site?

Would you try these surveys on one or more of your sites?

See results

This did not work for me

Google wants to see a 10% response rate. I had one that hit 8.7% but all the rest were far, far below that. I killed it off because of that.

Survey results

While this did not work for me, your experience could be different. It costs nothing to try, and it could be a lucrative addition.


Submit a Comment

  • Pcunix profile image

    Tony Lawrence 3 years ago from SE MA

    Who knows? I was CLOSE to 10%, but they wanted me to make changes I would not do. I'll explain that when I update this hub next week.

  • Lady Guinevere profile image

    Debra Allen 3 years ago from West By God

    Well PcUnix if it did not work for you than it will not work for me either. We are kind of in the same boat there or here on the internet.

  • Pcunix profile image

    Tony Lawrence 3 years ago from SE MA

    It did not work for me. Google wants a 10% completion rate; they didn't tell me what I got, but I'm sure it was far below that.

  • CelebrateUSA profile image

    Ken Kline 3 years ago from Chicago, Illinois


    I had no idea that this was even an option. I am building my own website and this is very valuable information. Thank you!

  • Glenn Stok profile image

    Glenn Stok 3 years ago from Long Island, NY

    I find this interesting but I don't think it would work on a commercial website. The reason why is that people come to the site with the intention of getting information you looking for. If they are blocked with a survey, or anything for that matter, they will not even read it.

    One of the options in your poll was... would they consider the survey and not leave. I think that they would never read it to begin with. I know that's how I react when I'm focused on one thing, and something else gets in the way. So a website visitor would never notice how simple the survey might be. They'll just leave.

  • Pcunix profile image

    Tony Lawrence 3 years ago from SE MA

    Twodawgs - that's pretty much how I feel about it, but there probably are people who only visit certain sites - it could be worth it to them, but I don't see why the site owner would do it! Why not offer a subscription and keep all the money?

  • profile image

    twodawgs 3 years ago

    The survey idea is interesting, I have a site concept I think this would work beautifully with.

    But... paying Google to NOT show their ads on SOME sites...? *SNORT*

  • Pcunix profile image

    Tony Lawrence 3 years ago from SE MA

    Yes, that's correct. They aren't going to kill your Adsense if this doesn't work. I updated this page to make that more clear.

  • NateB11 profile image

    Nathan Bernardo 3 years ago from California, United States of America

    This is very interesting, I'd never heard of it, and it's good to have options. I might give this a try. The only thing I don't like is that they can disable the account if it doesn't work out. I guess that's the value of testing it first. Seems like it would earn more money than the regular ads though.

    Edit: I just realized they just disable the Consumer Surveys account not the Adsense account, if you don't get hits on the surveys, if I'm understanding correctly. That would be different. I would risk that.