It's costly to make bad decisions in business and government, so market research companies are hired to conduct online surveys for these organizations in order to minimize their risk of choosing unwisely.
Market research companies operate online survey panels - essentially big databases of people who have indicated that they're interested in taking such surveys. These surveys can influence the future of different products and services and truly are important.
The market research company is paid to pose specific questions to their online survey panel, and when you, the survey taker, answer these questions, they in turn, compensate you. Market researchers aren't dumb - they know that your opinions are valuable!
Legitimate survey panels are always free to join. To become a member, you must complete a form with some personal details. This information is used to contact you for surveys and is also used for survey targeting purposes (i.e. some surveys may only be available to those in certain areas). Your information is kept confidential with the market research company, and is not sold.
Please note that you may be required to obtain your parent's permission in order to fully register with a survey panel if you are under 18. This is standard procedure.