Google Opinion RewardsIf you’ve used Google Opinion Rewards very much, it’s likely you’ve started feeling a little stalked. My first feeling of being stalked was when I went to Walmart, which I do not very often, and two days later I got a survey asking if I had been to Walmart one one of the two days I was there along with a couple of other options.

I went to another store I don’t frequent much, a day or two later I got a survey asking if I’d been there recently. Two I could chalk up to coincidence, but then I went to Petsmart to grab fleabait some collared flea death and I had an Opinion Rewards survey two days later asking if I had been to Petsmart.

During my many months of using this, there’s only been one location it asked me about that I wasn’t actually at, and I’m wondering if I managed to get stopped near the place long enough while driving to trigger it.

So why is Opinion Rewards doing this?

Most likely for highly targeted advertising. While your answers generally are listed as aggregated with no personally identifiable information, if you’re in a pool of people who mostly admit to going to place A, guess who Google can target better in their advertising campaigns.

Alternately, these stores could be requesting the Google see if their identification software has managed to track a user from their phone’s passive WiFi scanning all the way back to a user they’ve advertised to in the past via MAC address. In-store WiFi tracking and identification is a big thing now as a store can passively monitor where people go and what they stop and look at.

Either way, it does feel a bit like Opinion Rewards is increasingly saying “here kid, here’s a nickel, I gotta go make a grand off of you now.” Not so much wanting an opinion or a survey as a thinly veiled direct at you marketing application that fools you into giving up any anonymity you have left so you can purchase Mini Warriors or something like that from the Play Store.

In the mean time, I’m not going to answer these location questions or anything that actually isn’t an opinion, although I guess if enough of us do this the questions will change from “when were you last at Walmart,” to “when you were at Walmart on Wednesday October 29th at 8:14am-9:02am on the left side as you entered the store did you notice the marked down televisions or plastic Begonias first?”