I’ve been using the Google Opinion Rewards app for a couple of years now. The app, for those of you who aren’t familiar with it, sends you surveys a few times a week via your mobile device and you can earn Google Play credits for answering questions. The questions vary, but I’ve found that Google is most interested in my location behavior. Every few days Google will ask me if I’ve been to any of the locations on a list. Sometimes they don’t make any sense, but more often than not there is a store or restaurant I’ve visited in the last few days in the list. They then ask me when I was there, and to rate my experience from one to four stars. I often wondered if Google was leveraging this data to fuel its local reviews and star ratings, but after a trip to Knott’s Halloween Haunt last October I’m convinced Google is in fact leveraging this data.
Last October my wife and I attended Knotts’ annual Halloween Haunt and since it was for our Anniversary I surprised her with the dinner and hotel package with it. The day after our stay I received a notification from Google Opinion Rewards that looked like every other survey I receive when Google so kindly stalks my movement, asking me if I recently had been to any of the places in a list of local hotels. Normally, after my response it simply asks me to rate my experience at the location, but this time, things took a bit of a turn. On the following screen, Google advised that responses to my survey may be posted on Google and associated with my Google profile.
Since this was a prompt I hadn’t seen before, I opted to go ahead and let Google use my responses in an effort to see what the final result would be. The final two questions were similar to what I am used to seeing; it first asked to rate my experience and then asked me to review the location.
I submitted my review and when I first checked the listing I didn’t see where the review had been posted to the local listing for the Knott’s Berry Farm Hotel.
I haven’t seen a survey like this sense, but randomly thought the other day to check back and see if by chance Google was using my response as a review on the local listing for the Knott’s Berry Farm Hotel. Sure enough, the review I placed back in October via Google Opinion Rewards is actually live on the hotel’s listing.
Needless to say, if Google tells you that your Google Opinion Rewards survey may be leveraged online, it likely will be integrated into their reviews system and ultimately impact that business. As I mentioned previosuly, most location survey like this don’t include this disclaimer, however you almost always provide a star rating for the business. I did some poking around to see if any of the businesses I have given star ratings to as part of Google Opinion Rewards appear as “reviews,” but that does not appear to be the case, at least not publicly. I did discover however that the star ratings I have entered via Google Opinion Rewards show up under the “Contribute” section of my profile in Google Maps, which leads me to believe these are somehow being leveraged or at least weighted as part of the overall local review landscape in Google. As a local business, this is something you should be aware of as it has the potential to tap into users who may have otherwise not reviewed your business online, regardless of the sentiment of that review.
The one thing I find amusing about this entire process is that Google’s guidelines say that businesses shouldn’t offer money for people to write reviews because it impacts the authenticity of the review, yet Google Opinion Rewards is based completly on a model that reards you Google Play Credits for doing just that.