It’s really a heartwarming thing when we get some reassurance that human intelligence is still important. Even if it’s technology that is reminding us that we’re still needed. For what, you ask? For surveying.

At the rate we’re pulling in and analyzing data these days, it’s just no longer practical to go door-to-door, randomly dial or send out snail mail surveys and questionnaires to collect it. (But if you miss snail mail, I love a great love letter, so shoot it my way.) So what do we do to fill this void? We technology-worshippers turn to our only hope: technology.

The problem is that most of these surveys/questionnaires still require the human eye to get things done. Technology, for some bizarre reason, can’t handle actually being human just yet. Ugh. So to fix the problem, we design surveys for humans, but mass distribute them via technology. O M G.

Marketers, PhD candidates and college students everywhere rejoice.

Two popular platforms that do this are Google Surveys and MTurk, both of which are entities of major corporations that began them for their own professional gain. After some usage, they realized that by slapping a price tag on their services, they could make a pretty penny from allowing others to use them.

The problem is, they both have their strengths and weaknesses. But they’re getting there. Which one is better for your purposes? Well let’s break them down and find out.

What is it?

MTurk

  • Short for Mechanical Turk.
  • Crowdsourcing Internet marketplace provided by Amazon.
  • Connects people who need human intelligence to complete tasks to other people who want to complete tasks for money.

Google Consumer Surveys

  • Online platform that allows you to design surveys/questionnaires/forms to be distributed to certain targeted audiences.
  • You know those little popups that appear when you’re surfing a website such as AdWeek or Pandora that ask you to rate your experience or fill out a survey? These are them.
  • Obviously provided by Google.

How does it work?

MTurk

  • People, businesses, scholars or whoever wishes to can post tasks they need completed by humans on this website and offer monetary incentive to complete them.
  • Tasks can be really anything, ranging from watching a clip and rating it, ranking personal preference on a few logo designs or fonts, to giving an in-depth written response to a question.
  • Providers, or the people who complete tasks, can browse the HITs (Human Intelligence Tasks) and choose to complete certain tasks provided by Requesters, or the people who design and post tasks.

Google Consumer Surveys

  • Offers a 3-step creator to help you target an audience, format a survey, and design questions.
  • After designing and submitting, you pay a certain amount to have your survey distributed among a range of places and pay (usually) per survey that is taken.
  • Surveys are placed based on inferred demographics crafted from information Google collects based on IP address location and Internet history (totally creepy – the government AND Google are watching you).
  • Then, Google starts delivering results to you in as little as 24 hours.

What’s it used for?

MTurk

  • You can use MTurk for pretty much anything.
  • Artistic and education research, social science experiments and even missing person searches have been conducted via this site.

Google Consumer Surveys

  • In the sense that I’m looking at/discussing it, it’s really best for marketing professionals or businesses.
  • However, with the forms feature, it could be for anyone conducting a class, event, or the like.
  • It’s very transferrable across Google’s other platforms.

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How much does it cost?

MTurk

  • It can literally cost whatever you want it to, you choose an amount and offer it per completion.
  • Amazon collects a 10% fee on top of what Requesters offer to pay to people who complete their tasks, the minimum fee collected is $0.005.
  • Of course, people who do these tasks look at compensation before completing tasks, so although you CAN charge $0.03, your task will probably sit there untouched forever.

Google Consumer Surveys

  • A plethora of cost and type options are provided.
  • For a standard survey or questionnaire, it costs $0.10 per complete answered question, and up to $3.50 for 10.
  • Custom surveys are offered also, starting at $2,000.

What are some unique features?

MTurk

  • You can require certain characteristics or qualifications of your providers in order for them to be able to complete tasks.
  • Only pay for quality work, you can review and accept or reject work based on whether or not it meets your goals.

Google Consumer Surveys

  • The best thing about this service is that it is absolutely of Google quality.
  • It’s super transferable into all Google platforms, and your data is delivered to you completely analyzed; it includes graphs, demographic segmentation, and statistics.
  • The data is easily shareable as well, pass it along after its sent to you in .csv or .png form.
  • #1 poll in online accuracy for predicting the 2012 presidential election.

Should I use it?

MTurk

  • If you don’t have some knowledge of APIs or can’t hire a software developer, don’t use it as at least some background knowledge of this is required.
  • Still (for literally a decade) in beta, so all work and analysis must be done on your own, keep this in mind.
  • When you need a cheap, custom option, this is your best bet out of the two.
  • Although you can require certain qualifications, it’s somewhat difficult to ensure that you have a random or representative sample, so external validity is questionable.

Google Consumer Surveys

  • If you don’t have the knowledge stated above, this is an easier choice for you, as it is super user-friendly and only requires some basic technological knowledge to use it (aka following step-by-step directions).
  • If you’re just a scholar or student, it’s not really ideal, as it’s better for collecting market research.
  • It’s pretty costly when you begin to stray from the standard option, you can only really customize if you have a larger budget.

Do you get it now? So you’re not going to make a 6-figure salary by taking these surveys, but I think that if I dedicate a few hours here and there to MTurk, I’ll be able to pay for at least one of my Starbucks drinks per week.

This tool is useful in helping to fill the void created by technology not actually being able to completely replicate humans yet.

So if you’re a college student, scholar, marketer or strange random person with a need for random data or tasks to be completed, you have found your place. Check them out.

Have you used either of these? Comment below and let us know your experiences with them, we’d love to get some more insight!