You may have had to answer a survey to read this.
If you’ve read this site for any length of time, you’re likely familiar with the process of answering a few survey questions to unlock content. We’ve been using Google Consumer Surveys for almost four years. Google’s answer to a “paywall,” the surveys contain questions put out by market researchers (companies trying to find which product you prefer, which logo concept is better, or just general consumer preferences) on which we get paid per answer. They have been very successful and one of the most efficient ways to monetize the site, with little to no impact on visits (in fact, they are up substantially since we started using them in 2013). I was sort of shocked at how few people complained about them, and the question I got most often related to confusion over why the text was greyed out.
Lately, however, more publishers have joined Google’s program, which has meant that the number of available surveys has decreased. You likely haven’t gotten as many lately. So we’ve added a backup option from a company called Survata. They look a little different, but the process is identical– answer a few questions to unlock content for the day. Chances are you’ll get one of the two survey options once per day.
There will always be people who intentionally lie on the surveys (mostly the mongrels in the comments), and that’s fine. But for those of you who like the site and enjoy what we do, know that the more honestly you answer, the better the data is, and the better it is for us. When I first put these up in 2013, I told you the money would be used to hire a second full-time writer, and that’s exactly what happened. The plan remains the same– the more revenue the surveys generate, the more I can grow the site. Philly sports are in a bit of a lull, so it doesn’t make sense to have two full-time bloggers at the moment, but I want to be ready for when one of the teams turn the corner so we can fill the homepage with more content every day, produce more videos and podcasts, and be the place for Philly sports content online.
Since the Survata option is new, there might be a few hiccups (I’ve had some people say they keep getting asked their age– this is supposed to only happen once, but if you’re using private browsing or clear your cookies, then you’ll get asked again). We’re experimenting with where at how they’re shown to find a good balance between frequency and annoyance. Some of their surveys are longer than the Google ones, and basically we have to test them live to see how frequently the longer ones show up, how much impact they have on visits, etc.
These are high-paying, premium ads. The alternative is what most websites offer: video pop-ups ads. I still think surveys are the better option, because they can often be completed in much less time than a video ad, and they don’t bog down your computer or start blasting sound at you while you’re at work. All data is completely anonymous. The answers are aggregated based on age and sex and given back to the market researcher. No personal information is passed along, and I don’t see any of the responses.
In a perfect world, we’d rely solely on subscriptions, direct advertisers and apparel sales, and not ad networks and surveys. But for all but a handful of a publications that’s an unsustainable solution. No one revenue stream is enough on its own, and it’s always been about having a healthy mix. The surveys are just a part of that. So once again, thanks for your continued support and don’t hesitate to let me know about any issues you see.