Friday, July 24, 2015

On cashing in on personal information

For several months now I've been experimenting with a few methods of earning what's known online as "beer money".  I've tried a few things out, but so far the most success I've seen has come from the website known as SwagBucks (referral).  The concept is simple enough: watch videos, search using their special search bar, complete special offers, and fill out surveys.  In exchange for all of that, you get SwagBucks, which you can exchange for a variety of gift cards (including Paypal, which basically amounts to cash).

So to recap, you're exchanging personal information and getting paid at most $1-$2 a day.  To some, this might seem like a heck of a lot of effort for maybe $20-$30 a month.  And to that I're right.  At the start, I was putting a lot of time into it, and was getting good results.  These days, I'm just putting in the amount of time I feel like giving - it's no skin off my back if I don't log in for a few days.  Where my goal used to be to reach 2,500 Swagbucks in order to cash out $25 in Paypal gift cards, it's now my goal to use it to fill time.  Currently I'm waiting on another $3 gift card so that I can buy this little gadget.

When I first started collecting "SB's", there was a set of apps you could use to run videos and earn SB's.  The idea for the /r/SwagBucks community is you run the videos while you're doing something else.  You could mark short videos as favourites, and just run those as a loop until you max out your earnings for each app.  Great deal, right?

Except lately the people at SwagBucks have reduced the max amount you can earn with each app (while increasing the amount of videos you need to "watch" before earning any SB's), and removed the ability to mark videos as favourites.  Understandably, the SwagBucks community is up in arms.  What was once an easy side money earner is now "totally unusable" in the eyes of some.

Maybe the reason I'm not so upset about all of these changes is because of my attitude toward the website in the first place.  They need to make money, and the way they do that is by collecting your personal information in various forms, the biggest being surveys.  I am OK with this.  Surveys are fun!  That's how I earn the most SwagBucks (when I'm not disqualified for working in radio).

But I find it interesting how invested some of the users have become, and I'm certain it's all because SwagBucks is disguising $0.01 as 100 SwagBucks.  It's all the same as loyalty program rewards - what looks more impressive, 1 point = $1, or 1,000 points = $10?  By giving you such high point values as a reward, you feel like you're earning more when you're really trading away information that has a much higher value.  Think about it: the Reddit SwagBucks community is upset over not being able to easily earn 138 points a day anymore.  That's only $1.38 a day.  They probably spend more time earning SwagBucks than they do at work, and they're not even getting minimum wage doing it!

Whether or not they're going in the right direction, SwagBucks has definitely put their claws into people and are getting the information their clients want to buy.  Like I said - I knew up front what I was trading, and how much (or little) I was getting in return.  I'm okay with that.  If it means that I get a few Amazon gift cards and can buy neat little gadgets here and there, without spending my own money?  I'm happy.

If you want to join in on the party, feel free to use my referral link.  I would love to help you trade in your own personal information to get free stuff.

No comments:

Post a Comment