Editor's Note: This story was corrected on February 11, 2012 to reflect that browsers other than Microsoft's Internet Explorer, including Safari, Chrome, and Firefox, are also compatible with Bing Rewards; and the Bing Bar is not required to access Bing Rewards.
Google's new Screenwise program has gotten a fair amount of media coverage in the past couple of days. Launched at the beginning of the year, Screenwise pays Chrome browser users for allowing Google to track their browsing habits, record what sites they visit, and hopefully not someday reveal their search habits before a Congressional committee.
Screenwise flew mostly under the radar until February 8, when Search Engine Land spilled the beans on Google's pay-to-browse plan. To participate, Chrome users must download and run the Screenwise browser extension, which tracks their online activities. Google currently isn't accepting any new Screenwise participants, however.
How much does Screenwise pay? Up to $25 -- payable in Amazon gift cards -- for the first year. Specifically, that's $5 for signing up, plus $5 for every three months you participate in the program.
Bing Pays More
Screenwise sounds a lot like Bing Rewards, Microsoft's pay-to-browse plan that I've participated in for nearly a year. Participants can run Microsoft's Bing Bar, an add-on toolbar for Internet Explorer 7 or above, or access Bing Rewards through another browser.
What does Bing Rewards pay? About $40 per year in Amazon gift cards, but only if you participate daily.
Here's how it works. Bing Rewards gives you one point for every two Bing searches. The most points you can earn in a day is ten, but Microsoft typically adds a three-point bonus if you click a service or site it's promoting.
Really, it takes only a few minutes of casual searching to rack up 13 points, and some days you'll earn more via other Bing Rewards bonuses.
Every 22 days -- again, assuming you don't miss a day -- you'll earn enough points for a $2.50 Amazon gift card or other prizes. However, most prizes require more points, or "credits." A one-month Xbox Live Gold membership, for instance, costs 999 credits -- or about three months of daily Bing Rewards surfing.
If you're not overly concerned with online privacy, give Bing Rewards or Google Screenwise (once it starts accepting new members) a try.
Search sites make money because you use them. Shouldn't they share the wealth with you?