Google Clarifies Screenwise Program

    February 8, 2012

This morning we brought you news of Google’s Screenwise program. Participants in Screenwise install an extension in their Google Chrome browser that lets Google monitor their internet activity. Participants are compensated with a $5 gift code to Amazon as soon as they install the browser extension, and another every three months for a year, totally $25 in Amazon credit for participating in the program.

As part of this morning’s story I contacted Google’s PR department about the program. Shortly after the story ran, a Google spokesperson got back to me with the following statement:

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.

So it looks like Screenwise is a fairly ordinary market research panel, just with a browser extension in place of a questionnaire. Participants have a high degree of control over exactly what Google sees and for how long. Google is apparently also shooting for a small focus group-type program. In fact, the Screenwise sign up page no longer has a place to put your email address. Instead visitors to the site are greeted with the message, “We appreciate and are overwhelmed by your interest at the moment. Please come back later for more details.”

What do you think of Screenwise? Did you sign up for the program? Tell us what you think in the comments.