woman doing an online survey on here phone

Survey panels can be roughly divided into two groups. The first comprises of legitimate platforms where you can trade your opinions and consumer habits for small incentives. As far as I know, nobody has ever managed to rack up serious, game changing money by taking surveys. But the least you can hope for is some pocket cash to plug a small hole or two. The second group consists of crooked places that are trying to take advantage of credulous users by misusing their personal information.

But there are many narrower classifications within these two categories. When it comes to legit survey panels, most of them will be open to applicants. But you may also come across those that prefer inviting select users to join, rather than tearing down the wall and letting everybody in. Mercury Opinion is one of those exclusive panels, and we are here to determine whether it’s worth your time.

Even the first glance was enough to tell me that I was in for a difficult mission. The information is so scarce on their website that it’s almost completely blank. And not in a good way! Save for a short welcome message, there is nothing on the homepage. And four tabs that the site has don’t help much either.

Mercury Opinion homepage preview

Panel Overview

Sadly, I couldn’t register and test it first-hand, not being one of the select few. So, I had to do with what little information I found online. 

But let’s start with the legitimacy. How to address this complex issue when there’s so little info?

In their Privacy Policy, they promise to protect your information from any interceptors by using the SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) encryption method. No need to bother yourself by Googling what it means! To put it in simple terms, there is a channel of communication between your computer and the website’s server. Just like anything else, this communication can be intercepted and abused. To prevent that, the SSL protection converts it to gibberish, presumably uncrackable code, so that nobody can take advantage even if they should get their hands on it.

And our internet browsers have given us an easy way to check the SSL. Take a look at the left corner of your search bar. If there is a lock that says “Secure”, it’s safe to feed your personal info to the website at hand.

When it comes to Mercury Opinion panel, here’s what Google Chrome has to say. 

Mercury Opinion ssl error screenshot

However, that doesn’t mean that they are lying about the SSL certificate. It’s possible that they would redirect you to another domain where you would sign up or take a survey. Nevertheless, I would be cautious if I were you.

The panel has clear contact info in the footer, including their physical and email addresses, as well as a phone number. Plus, they have a Facebook page with around 100 followers as of this writing. It doesn’t amount to much when it comes to legitimacy, but is still a sign that they have nothing to hide.

How Does It Work?

I bet you’ve clicked that green Take a Survey button the moment you landed on their homepage. Sorry to disappoint you, but it doesn’t work that way. The only info you’ll get is that there are no surveys at the moment.

Why they even have that option is beyond my comprehension. It should only have been available to registered users. So the next pertinent question would be if there is a way to become one of them.

And that’s another catch: there’s nothing you can do to maximize your chances of receiving that invitation. In their own words, they “have randomly selected participants from the publicly available list of registered voters”.

Lack of Transparency Could Be an Issue

The same page also says a word or two (not more, alas) about rewards. As soon as you successfully complete the second survey they send you, you will get an Amazon or iTunes gift card via email. How much are surveys worth on average? How often can you hope to get them? Not a word on these important matters. And judging by how scarce to nonexistent the info is elsewhere on the internet, I wouldn’t say there are many users, if at all.

By now, you’ve already got the impression that they aren’t very talkative or transparent. What company stands behind this panel? Is there a list of credible clients or any clients they have worked with? Why are we to believe that it’s fine to trust them with our information? In an era of data breaches and electoral manipulations, they haven’t done much to reassure us. 

Advantages

  • Amazon and iTunes gift cards are enticing rewards as far as survey panels go. In fact, they are only second to cash. We don’t know how great or small is the earning potential per these rewards though. So, this point is only a partial advantage.

Disadvantages

  • Tried to sign up straight away? They won’t let you in. Bummer! It’s they who make the choice, and not you. Judging by the FAQ, it’s not really a choice. They select users randomly, from the list of registered voters.
  • There is no information on frequency or average worth of their surveys. Actually, there is almost no information on any matter of importance. They could really invest some effort into making the site more useful to their potential as well as current users.
  • You will only get a reward upon completion of the second survey. Let’s assume the research opportunities are rare with Mercury Opinion, and you never get this second survey. What happens then? It seems someone’s after some free work!
  • It’s hard to determine whether the panel’s legitimate. They claim to have SSL certificate. The landing page itself doesn’t have it, but it still doesn’t mean there aren’t redirect domains that are secure. On the other hand, their contact info are listed on the site, and they do have some social media presence. They perform market research for political topics, which means that they should be legit – at least in theory. However, all of us know all too well that theory works very differently when put into practice.

Conclusion – What Kind of Panel Is Mercury Opinion?

If Mercury Opinion were more transparent about their processes, we would have been able to pass a more definitive verdict. Such as it is, I can only say that this panel is below average in every possible way. It offers something very vague, indeterminate, and frankly indeterminable to a very narrow number of people. As to what it delivers, we don’t know, and no one has made any effort to pitch us any kind of proof or promise.

So, if you’re into making some lazy money on the side, there are dozens of decent survey panels that will have you here and now. If, however, you should find yourself among those lucky chosen ones, you might as well give it a try. And let us know about your experience!