If you are looking into getting paid to take surveys online then you will likely have come across several different terms relating to the companies that provide the surveys and payment. Some are called market research companies, and some are just referred to paid survey companies, but is there really any difference?

The short answer is ‘no.’ However, ‘paid survey companies’ can encompass a much broader definition than a business termed a ‘market research’ company. Many of the most popular and legitimate survey companies refer to themselves as market research companies, who, as a part of the services to the businesses that hire them, put out survey questionnaires to their panelist members in order to collect the research data their client is seeking. The market research companies promote survey taking as a means of performing their job. They collect the information from the desired demographic groups, process it, and hand it over to their client.

Paid survey companies, on the other hand, may technically include websites that offer paid surveys through an affiliate relationship, or may encompass a broader variety of opportunities related to paid surveys including the ‘paid offers’ category. While ‘paid offers’ may be a legitimate opportunity on some sites, this is the place where people get confused. Paid offers are often presented as a compensated survey, because they tell you after signing up that you need to take a survey afterward for feedback. There are websites who claim they are survey sites, but that just trap people into giving up their credit card numbers to try a product or service, knowing full well these people will likely forget to cancel in the allotted trial period, inevitably being charged again the next month for a product they don’t like or aren”t interested in.

While a market research company may always be considered a ‘paid survey company’ if it offers compensation, not all survey companies are considered market research companies.

When it comes to taking surveys online, it’s important to be aware of two very important facts when thinking about participating in survey opportunities. Number one is that a true market research company – however termed – will never ask you to pay money to be a part of their panel, to access any of their information related to the survey, or for acquisition of the product for product testing. Number two is that market research and survey companies will always list their contact information in an easy-to-find location on their site. If you can find their contact information right away, its probably because they don’t want you to find it.