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~ UPDATED AS AT JULY 2006 ~
You Gov is a British online market research company based in London. Although their name suggests that they are a government-funded initiative, they are actually a privately funded company, even though their surveys do tend to have a political theme/bias to them. You Gov invites individuals to join their polling club and voice their opinion. They make their money by conducting surveys measuring public opinion and selling them on to a variety of different companies. Their client base is made up of newspapers and magazines (i.e. The Sunday Times, The Observer, The Mail on Sunday & The New Statesman), television stations (i.e. Channel 4, LWT) & other companies and institutions such as the NHS and Greenpeace.
~ WARNING ~ A word of warning before you rush off to sign up with them; you should only register if you are planning on being in it for the long haul, as you will never make a quick buck here. They do offer paid online surveys and prize draws but you only get paid once you have accumulated a minimum of £50.00 (and that's a lot of work at 50p a time). You Gov claims that this is in order to cut down on their administrative costs.
~ REGISTRATION PROCESS ~ So if you still want to voice your opinion and get paid for it, you can register at www.yougov.com. They'll give you £1 for joining and the registration process is quick and simple. You choose a user name & password, answer a number of questions and you're away. The registration questionnaire will ask you about the newspapers you read, whether you watch Newsnight, who you voted for at last General Election, your income, profession and religion amongst others. You get an email confirmation from them welcoming you as a member of the You Gov Polling Club (it also details your user name and password, so it's a handy one to keep). You can also sign up for a monthly newsletter.
~ WEBSITE ~ The website is excellent - extremely very well laid out and easy to navigate and follow. Pages load quickly and easily. On their homepage sections include:
~ Corporate (background on You Gov and their client base) ~ Published Reports (Details of old polls) ~
YouGov Panel (FAQ which tells anything you need to know about membership) ~ New Registration (sign up as a member of their polling club)
There is also a current polls section where you can vote on a variety of topics such as music, current affairs, sports, people, etc; Although there is no financial reward in voting here, some offer an occasional prize for the best answers. There is also a column run by John Humphrys, which is always incisive and to the point. There is also a column by Peter Kellner, the chairman of YouGov, on current newsworthy topics.
Once logged in to You Gov, you can change and update your details. You can also access your account - this will list the surveys you've taken by date and show the amounts you have earned. There is also a separate line detailing any referrer credits.
~ THE SURVEYS ~ You Gov surveys pay from 50p to £1.00 each, but I would point out that 95% of the ones I have completed paid 50p. Surveys invites always come by email but never tell you the topic of the survey. The email will state "You Gov Poll Alert - Get paid 50p/75p/£1 to vote". They also send survey invites with "You Gov Poll Alert - Win £500 " i.e. no earning opportunity but entry into a prize draw. The emails always give you the closing date of the poll, and they often give you a few days in which to respond. Clicking on the email link will take you direct to the You Gov website, where you will be required to log in and then vote accordingly.
The surveys themselves are quick and easy to do - five to ten minutes at the most. Most of time you put a tick/dot in the box of your choice, but often you will be asked to write a more detailed answer, which is your chance to tell it how you see it. Unfortunately, you do not often get to see the results of the surveys, nor do you gain any feedback from your opinions. Occasionally you will hear the results of a recent poll announced on television - and that's your five minutes of fame…
Upon completion of the survey, the money is automatically credited to your account (always reassuring). You Gov promise that they won't give out your details to any third parties or send you any spam.
~ BRAND INDEX ~ An increase in survey invites for You Gov members is now underway, as You Gov have now launched BrandIndex. BrandIndex are a series of surveys about well known brands. You are asked to click on buttons to indicate whether you have positive or negative opinions on a huge variety of different brands. If you've had rubbish service from Avis or been impressed by Woolworths, it's your chance to give them a thumbs up (or down). The BrandIndex survey is being run daily (as a piece of ongoing research) and YouGov are hoping that all members will receive at least one BrandIndex survey every month (in addition to the usual surveys). This is extremely good news, as more survey invites mean you *should* get to that £50.00 payout level much quicker. You don't need to sign up to receive them as the BrandIndex surveys should arrive in your inbox in exactly the same way as any other YouGov surveys, and you just respond to them in the usual way.
~ MY EXPERIENCES ~ In nearly three years of membership, I've received one £50.00 cheque and got 20% of the way to my next payout threshold. Once you reach this elusive milestone, You Gov post your cheque to your home address within 2 to 3 weeks.
I would point out that survey invites are extremely sporadic in that you sometimes get 3 in one week and then hear nothing from them for the next 6 weeks. However, the best thing of all with You Gov is that you ALWAYS qualify for a You Gov survey, as there is never a right or wrong answer. No nasty pre-screeners or a terse message saying you are not part of their target group….If you get an email inviting you to take one of their surveys you always get the cash on offer.
Past survey topics have asked for my opinion on a variety of topics such as crime, the Royal Family, shopping, ISA's, mobile phones, disabilities, the Iraq situation, the NHS, terrorism, the General Election and the Conservative leadership battle to name but a few. The surveys do tend to leap about a bit - switching from one topic to another totally unrelated subject. For example, one minute you can be answering a question on crime in your area and then next they will be asking you for your thoughts on Linda Barker or Jordan. One favourite question is "if there was a general election tomorrow, who would you vote for?"
~ RATHER SPLENDID REFERRAL SYSTEM ~ Another huge plus point in their favour is their referral system. They have one of the best referral systems I have come across. Unlike many other online survey companies, membership of You Gov is NOT limited to one applicant per household, so anyone living at the same address (who is over 18) can join up. For each successful referral you make, you will get paid the same amount as your new joiner every time they respond to a survey during their first three months of their membership. I can vouch that this referral system really does work and they do pay out, as I have earnt over £15 from signing various individuals up with them. Getting paid for referring someone to You Gov is easy. On your personal account page there a section entitled "Refer A Friend" which issues you with an individual referral link which you can email to your friends/family and get them to sign up through it.
~ THE VERDICT ~ I would recommend joining You Gov, even though doing enough surveys to earn £50 will take at least 2/3 years. I wouldn't bother to join unless you are happy to wait this length of time for your money - you do need to be patient. You Gov is a professional and well-run outfit, you get £1 for just for joining, and their referral scheme is a real bonus. The surveys are quick and easy to do and not overly political - more biased towards current affairs. You can almost guarantee that you'll get a survey shortly after a big political story breaks in the news, asking for your opinion on it. The surveys can make you stop and think, and they make superb dinner party conversation (or argument…..)
~ CONTACT DETAILS ~ You Gov Plc 1 West Smithfield London EC1A 9JU