In the middle of all of this is a new breed of research corporation that relies on you – the survey taker – to determine this information. For your time? Many survey companies will pay you to take surveys for money or for other cash alternatives like gift cards or physical prizes and rewards. It depends upon the company as to whether they'll offer money or other offers and special deals.
You won't get rich doing these things but it's legitimate and you'll get paid in the end. For example, you get a penny for each email you click. You get a penny for a video stream. You can earn dollars for fulfilling offers but those aren't nearly as quick as reading an email. They are upfront in what you get paid so you can decide if it's worth it.
A few paid survey sites do pay relatively well in cash. However, many sites hype hypothetical, best-case scenarios that can't possibly apply to each and every consumer for each and every hour of participation. In the real world, the likelihood that you'll often earn the higher of the hyped amounts is slim. Most online paid surveys simply don't pay much, and you must be invited to complete them. To be invited, you must fit targeted demographics. That alone limits your earnings right off the bat, as you can't possibly fit every demographic.
IOCS is a not-for-profit research organization that conducts studies and experiments on shopping-related behavior – things like how we, as consumers, evaluate products, how we make the buying decisions, etc. Although the focus is mostly on shopping related behavior, some of their experiments and studies include broader areas of marketing, psychology, and economics.