New Google Consumer Survey Trial Run

Three years ago, Google launched a new advertising product called “Google Consumer Surveys” that websites were encouraged to use as an alternative to putting up a paywall. The gist of it is that upon visiting a website, you get asked some survey questions, and then you are allowed access to the website’s content after that.

The success rate of this program has varied by source. One of the largest news organizations in the world gave it a try, realized it wouldn’t make as such money as charging subscribers through a paywall to access the content, and abandoned the program. Many small-town newspapers have embraced the program, figuring that it generated more revenue than they could get from a paywall and also served the pro-social objective of letting readers access all of the site’s content without having to open up their wallets.

I have a strong preference for keeping the content that I publish on The Conservative Income Investor free. I recently became eligible for a trial run of the Google Consumer Survey program, and I had been playing with the code for the past few days in setting it up–some of you may have run into the survey questions late Wednesday night.

The idea is that consumer brands, political organizations, and other salespeople are interested in survey data that they can collect. With the political season coming up, I imagine you’ll get polled about different candidates. It wouldn’t surprise me if Google Consumer Survey polls were cited in the upcoming elections, and a potential benefit of this program is that readers here may be asked questions that carry real-world consequence.

The current trial run contains six questions, but it is my understanding that that is unusually high. Most surveys will only be two or three questions. My current arrangement with Google is that full completion of the survey grants unrestricted access to the site for 24 hours, and then another survey appears. If you click the skip button or exit out of it, a survey will appear on all pages you attempt to visit after it. My long-range goal is to have each survey grant access for 72 hours rather than 24 hours, but as a new publisher in the program going through a trial run, I do not yet have the authority to control the settings.

I know some of you will find this to be an annoyance. But monetizing the website at a satisfactory rate is a necessary condition for continued updates. The real culprit has been the shift to mobile reading, which does not convert nearly as well as desktop audiences. The survey will be obtrusive, but some of my peers indicate it is a great way to keep content free. I do what I can to put out regular updates, and am hopeful you can respect, or at least tolerate, the introduction of Google Surveys as a condition for full access to the site every 24 hours. Thank you for reading. I appreciate your continued support. -Tim

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