Google Surveys - A Beginners Guide

Grab your credit card and, in just a few minutes, you can launch a survey to virtually any demographic, starting as low a 10 cents a response!!

Whether you’re a top market research firm or an entrepreneur with a new idea, Google Surveys can help you implement professional-level survey data collection from demographics across the U.S. and 13 other countries (and growing). Follow this step-by-step guide to quickly get started receiving high quality survey responses at a fraction of the cost of traditional survey panels.

With Google Surveys (GS), you reach real consumers, not professional survey takers who supposedly represent those consumers.

Survey Goals, Strategy and Development

Although critically important, this guide barely touches on the goals, strategy and development. For that kind of advice, go here: Tips for creating successful surveys. This guide is focused on getting you executing your first survey RIGHT NOW.

Because GS is so fast and inexpensive to implement, it is already starting to revolutionize professional market research by offering an alternative approach to slow and painstaking survey data collection. Google Surveys is for guerilla marketers in the age of the internet. Run some inexpensive tests – learn – adjust – repeat if necessary – then launch your full-scale survey.

Easy, Six-Step Process (the last three take 90 seconds)

Setting up a Google Survey is fast and easy. A single question survey can get up and running in less than five minutes. A more sophisticated survey, with highly-targeted demographics and the maximum 10 questions would require much more advanced planning, but the actually implementation online would only be about 15 minutes.

The six steps of the process are outlined in the chart below. We’ll go through them one at a time.

Audience, Targeting, Questions, Quote, Buy, Approval

Google Surveys Audience

Google attracts people to take surveys in three ways: general population, android smartphone users and audience panels.

Audience

If you’re going to study only one portion of this Beginner’s Guide, this is it.

Executing Google Surveys is very straightforward, but if there’s one thing that first-time users find confusing, it’s choosing an Audience. As a reminder, executing a Google Survey is so fast and inexpensive, you could do a trial on all three Audience choices; get feedback, then adjust the portion of your surveys from each classification of Audience.

Educate yourself on each Audience Choice and you’ll have a much better idea how to move forward with your first Google Survey.

  1. General Population

    Using this method, Google reaches people in two ways: its Publisher Network and Android Phone Users.

    1. Publisher network

      Publishers of subscription-based online media, from independent bloggers to the nation’s largest newspapers typically allow non-subscribers to read a few articles prior to blocking access. This is called a “paywall”. For those readers who choose not to subscribe, some publishers enable readers to “earn” the right to read a specific article (or more) by providing something in return - often consumer data in the form of survey responses. GS pays these publishers a small fee (single digit cents) for each response. This methodology is a tremendous benefit as you’re getting responses from the public, rather than people who take surveys full-time or part-time to make a living.

      As expected, choosing General Population will give you the most disperse personalities of the respondents you are seeking. Obviously, you’re going to reach more people who are consumers of online news and various text-based reading materials.

    2. Android Phone Users

      When you choose General Population, you will also get a portion of your respondents who do not come from the publisher network, but are members of Google Opinion Rewards program (see Android Smartphone User just below this section). The portion of people that you get from the publisher network vs. Android Smartphone Users will be automatically determined based on your choices of Audience and Targeting.

      We suggest choosing General Population when your target demographic is your average consumer.

  2. ONLY Android Smartphone Users

    You can choose to receive responses from only Android Smartphone Users (and not from Google’s publisher network). Why would you do this?

    Android Smartphone Users tend to be a bit more affluent, active, and tech savvy than the general population. Targeting demographics are probably more accurate than with the publishers network (see Targeting below).

    Example product categories that may do well with this Audience could be snowboarding, bicycling, gaming, clothing, gig economy services, etc.

    Here’s how it works. With their close integration with the Android phone platform, Google offers Android phone users the ability to earn Google Play credit (used to download games and other apps) in exchange for taking surveys. This app is called Google Opinion Rewards, and, as you can see in the image, Google will occasionally pop up an opportunity to take a survey and earn a predefined amount of credit.

    Google Opinion Rewards app
  3. Google Surveys Audience Panels

    Google utilizes self-reported data from users of its Google Opinion Rewards program in order to develop its Audience Panels. The screenshot to the right shows current panels in the U.S. as of this writing, but the list of panels is sure to grow in the future. Google periodically add and remove users from these groups to maintain the panels accuracy.

    If you wish to survey multiple panels, you must run separate surveys.

    Note: You can think of Audience Panels as a more narrowly defined group of Android Smartphone Users.

    Audience Panels

Google Surveys Targeting Options

Now that you’ve chosen your Audience, you can narrow your demographics in this next step.

Executing targeting options are quite straightforward with little explanation required. For this step, researchers are more concerned about demographic accuracy.

Targeting Demographics Accuracy

Google doesn’t publish such information but we’ve done some research and we believe that Google Surveys demographic information is quite accurate. First, Google Opinion Rewards users provide demographic information such as age, gender, and occupation during the registration process. So when choosing Android Smartphone Users or Audience Panels, your demographic accuracy is essentially 100%.

For the publishers network portion of the General Population audience choice, Google uses what is called “inferred demographics” based on web surfing history and IP address location. Google has been doing this for many years as part of its core advertising business. With years of data analytics, Google knows the confidence of an individual’s demographic information and only provides surveys to people who meet a specific threshold of accuracy. For example, if a parent and child share a device and each user typically does not “sign in” to Google the browsing history would be diverse and Google is likely not to assign an age, gender, and other demographic to this device. So we believe that even the publishers network demographics is also highly accurate.

Targeting and Pricing

Targeting does increase costs by 50% no matter how targeted your respondents (we ran some tests to verify). View the handy pricing chart below or see Google Surveys pricing. A Single Answer goes from 10 cents to 15 cents. 2-10 Answers goes from $1.00 to $1.50. Even the country that you choose does not affect price.

You can further target your respondents by using “screening questions”. See next section.

Write Your Questions

There are three question types, called “question formats”: Single Answer, Multiple Answers and Rating Scale. Question format choices don’t affect the costs of your survey, only the number of questions. One question is the one price; 2-10 questions increases price by 10X.

Question development is easy - just follow the prompts.

Answer Order

Google offers some choices, but Randomize answer order is generally the best choice. It is required if you have more than six answers for a Single Answer question. That's because the respondent will only see six of the possible choices. Since the answers are randomized, other respondents will see a different set of choices. Google calls this partial ordering.

Screening Questions

Screening Questions flowchart

If the Targeting Options provided above don’t narrow your respondent pool enough, you can ask up four “screening questions”, where you’ll only get responses from people who provide the appropriate answers.

For example, let’s suppose you are developing several new flavored coffee creams for the consumer market and you wanted to know what flavors were best for your product introduction. You may ask the two screening questions in the chart here.

Important: You only pay for completed responses. See “Pricing” section below to understand how screening questions add to the cost of your survey.

Open-ended Questions for Google Surveys

By way of its partnership with Ascribe, you can now use GS to do open-ended questions which provide text responses (not finite choices). For example, “Tell us, in your own words, what bothers you most about self-checkout when buying groceries?” Open-ended responses are not native to GS, you must use Ascribe Surveys to implement this feature.

Quote

This is as simple as clicking CONFIRM to submit your survey. Google will return a quote in just a few seconds. This does not mean that your survey is approved by Google. That approval process starts upon payment.

Google Surveys quote

See the “Pricing” section below for guidance about what drives up the Google Survey Costs.

Buy

This is the same as any other ecommerce purchase. Just follow the prompts.

Approval

Google will reject your survey for simple things like misspelled words and incorrect grammar. These are easily fixed for resubmission. Other reasons for rejection include sexual content and illegal drugs. If your survey is rejected, Google will provided detailed reasons.

Google Surveys Pricing

The price of a Google Survey ranges from ten cents ($0.10) per response for one question with no targeting (or using an Audience Panel) and up to a maximum of three dollars ($3.00) per response when not using screening questions.

Pricing possibilities

As the chart shows, Google has done a nice job simplifying pricing. However, users tend to get confused about the combination of Audience and Targeting.

Choosing your Audience as General Population or Android Smartphone Users is the same price (remember, General Population includes some Android Smartphone Users). Adding Targeting to either General Population or Android Phone Users increases the price by 50%.

Note: You can still use Screening Questions when targeting Audience Panels.

Pricing for Surveys with Screening Questions

Remember that you only pay for completed responses. The use of screening questions quickly drives up pricing because Google will receive many incomplete responses. When you submit a survey with screening questions, Google will first perform a “Audience Test” which runs your survey for a limited number of people and determines the % of people that complete the survey (answering all the questions). The fewer completed responses, the higher the cost. Note: Google requires a minimum of 5% completed responses (called the incidence rate).

Uncertain about What the Price May Be?

No worries. First, you don’t have to pay until you get a quote. Second, it’s so fast to get a quote, it’s often best to submit a survey for quote rather than trying to predict the cost.

Advantages of Google Surveys

The advantage of using Google Surveys vs. traditional market research panels comes down to four features:

Google Surveys Drawbacks

Although GS is delivering millions of survey responses to brand owners of all types, it does have a few drawbacks for some, more sophisticated surveys. The first is that it cannot handle open-ended questions - those with text responses. For survey developers in need of those types of responses, Google has a relationship with company called Ascribe. The 2nd is that GS has maximum question and question branching limitation. For example, with GS, you can’t send respondents down different paths of questioning based on the answer to a question. Last, GS has limited data analysis.