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A paid or incentivized survey is a type of statistical survey where the participants/members are rewarded through an incentive program, generally entry into a sweepstakes program or a small cash reward, for completing one or more surveys.
A paid survey is used to collect quantitative information about the participants' personal and economic habits set against their particular demographic. Incentivized surveys are considered to be more likely to catch a wider and more representative range of respondents compared to unincentivised surveys.
YouGov in the United Kingdom says -
|“||Respondents receive a small incentive for completing YouGov surveys. The purpose is to ensure that samples are as representative as possible, and that responses are not tilted towards those passionately interested in the subject of the particular survey.||”|
Legitimate surveys are usually unpaid (as with Gallup poll) or incentivized (as with YouGov). Surveys where the respondent must pay or purchase products to join a panel are generally scams, as are sites that disappear before paying the participants. Legitimate surveys do not need credit card information from respondents.
In the last few years most U.S. market research companies have developed online panels to recruit participants and gather information. With the power of the internet thousands of respondents can be contacted instantly rather than the weeks and months it used to take to conduct interviews through telecommunication and/or mail. By conducting research online, a research company can reach out to demographics they may not have had access to when using other methods. The big-brand companies from around the world pay millions of dollars to Research companies for public opinions and product reviews by using these free online surveys. The surveys you complete directly influence the development of products and services from top companies.
When a research company needs respondents from a demographic they cannot reach they can easily reach out to a worldwide or specialty panel. By offering a cash incentive to respondents in return for feedback these companies are able to quickly fill quotas and collect the information being sought by the client.
See also 
- "People Who Can Do Online Surveys". Online Surveys. Retrieved 2012-02-05.
- YouGov: Panel methodology - Recruitment & Incentives, accessed 18 March 2008
- "The Real Deal About Online Survey Scams". Scambusters. Retrieved 2012-02-05.
- "How to Avoid Scam Survey Sites". SurveyCompare. Retrieved 2012-10-16.
- "Why Online Surveys Pay". Money Saving Expert. Retrieved 2012-10-16.