Advantages Pay real money, usually easy to complete
Disadvantages They're out to get information for nothing
If money talks, it speaks volumes about Ciao's priorities. Sweat out a review of a well-remunerated product, assuming a few dozen reads, and you could earn a pound or two. Usually it's a lot less. If you're like me, you may have spent many hours writing and researching that review.Fill in a survey however, and Ciao might pay you a couple of quid - or more - for 20 minutes' minimal effort.
That suggests to me that our responses to surveys matter more to Ciao than our reviews. Other evidence bears this out. The site pulls in most of its new members with the promise of earning cash for surveys. Even I still occasionally get emails with offers like "Join Ciao and win an iPod Nano". Which not only makes me wonder how aware Ciao are of my existence, but also explains why there are thousands of members who have never written a single review. When I joined Ciao, I was unaware of the survey side: in that I am probably quite unusual. For most, Ciao equals surveys.Ciao, and its recently-arrived parent company Greenfield, use that equation to sell themselves to business clients. They make no secret of this. The Ciao Help Centre page is clear about the company's principal purpose:
"On behalf of its business customers, Ciao GmbH conducts online surveys of consumers for market research purposes... The Company serves many of the world's leading market research agencies, global FMCG companies, creative agencies and management consulting firms."Of course, Ciao earns money in other ways. It markets us, and others who visit the site, as potential purchasers, promising rich pickings for advertisers and other sellers. Or, as Greenfield describes Ciao:
"A highly effective marketing environment for merchants and advertisers, where they can access well-informed customers in the critical moment when they are taking purchase decisions." Gives you a lovely warm feeling, doesn't it?Surveys are thus just a part, albeit a big part, of Ciao's business. Their business-facing website is full of the ripest jargon, like "value-added, product-centred community concept" and "proprietary access panel". They want us, though, to see it as fun, fun, fun.
Therein lies their biggest challenge. Because the reality of receiving and completing their online surveys is often the opposite of fun: tedious, inconsistent and extraordinarily frustrating.It all starts with an email in your inbox. It's usually from "Survey @ Ciao" or "Ciao Surveys". The email title hints at the subject. This can be vague - "trends" or "a new survey" - or as specific as "alcoholic beverages". The title will also state a sum of money. This will range from 70p to, in one remarkable case, the lure of up to £30 (but only if you qualified). The average payment is about £1.30 ...if you complete the survey.
And that's a very big if... The size of the promised payment is generally a good guide to whether you'll be able to complete the survey. Based on good old market forces, the more defined the target group, the higher the price.
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