Get Paid Pennies for Your Data: An In-Depth Review of Invisibly (Beta App)


WHAT IS IT?
Are you sick of companies stealing your data and privacy, and leaving you with nothing to show for it? Invisibly is a brand new program (still in beta) that endeavors to pay you for the data it collects, via your own voluntary actions.

INTERFACE/NAVIGATION

A screenshot of the main screen of Invisibly, a site that pays you for your data
Here's your dashboard...you'll be spending most of your time here.

To its credit, using Invisibly is remarkably simple. After signing up, you are then taken to your “feed”, which consists of movies, food recipes, articles, and other categories based on interests you select.

At its core, it’s basically another social media site, only you’re inundated with ads and (presumably) paid content instead of rambling posts from your friends about how liberals are ruining America. There are no users you can follow, or really anything else you can do, besides “like”, “dislike” and “save” posts to read for later.

The UI is much cleaner than other social media sites, since other people can’t post to your wall (or vice versa), so the layout is virtually uncluttered, with rows of articles, recipes and other forms of media. It sounds rather stupid - because it is - but I did discover a few movies I’d never heard about, and some articles that seemed genuinely interesting. I also get recipes, even though I clearly listed "food" as a disinterest, simply to get rid of the overload of recipes I was already getting. So much for the assurance that every bit of feedback is "improving my feed".

A screenshot of Invisibly's "Disinterests" page to help tune your feed
"Agricutlutre", anyone?

The idea is all right, but one complaint I have about the setup is that, clicking on an article (or recipe, or whatever) merely takes you to a “landing page” for that article, which is basically a larger version of the thumbnail you just clicked on. In order to actually access the content, you must click the “View” button that appears in the window in the upper right hand corner.

It’s not that clicking an extra time is all that difficult, but it also feels completely unnecessary from a user standpoint. Maybe it helps with tracking, or something from a developer standpoint, but when you are trying to entice people into consuming content, any extra requirements can turn people away. It’s sad, but it’s a true fact in today’s ADHD-riddled world. Why couldn't they just link the media directly from your feed?

A screenshot of what happens when you click on an article in Invisibly
Clicking on an item in your feed will take you to this screen.

The last problem I have is that you have to sign in every single time. Maybe it’s because I use Google as my login provider (although I can’t see how it makes a difference), but no matter how quickly I return to the site after closing out, I have to sign in again. I can see being logged out after a specified time period - maybe 24 hours at the least - but to require a login every single time seems like complete overkill. Especially for a site that pays out so little in comparison; it’s the type of thing that’s going to turn off potential users who are on the fence about using it.

HOW DOES IT WORK?

As mentioned before, it’s very easy: As you scroll through your feed, you can either “like”, “dislike”, or “save” each post for later. For every item you like or dislike, you get 1 point, which is the equivalent of one penny. Once you hit 500 points ($5) you can cash out to PayPal - and that currently seems to be the only payment option. Curiously, you do not get anything for bookmarking an item (unless, of course, you "like" or "dislike" it beforehand).

But what’s going on behind the scenes? From Invisibly’s perspective, a lot of the information that data brokers currently get are very vague, which has led to very small click-through rates in the advertising industry. For example, a user might click on one football story for the entire year, and is then considered a football fan to advertisers. Multiply that by all the users online, and you can see there’s a massive amount of incorrect information that advertisers are attempting to cater to.

A screenshot of Invisibly's "Interests" page, where you set your favorite topics.
Here's where you set your favorite topics, although they'll still show you random shit anyway.

And that is where you step in. Invisibly takes all of the data you willingly provide, and sells it to advertisers, with the idea that it’s much higher quality because you’re voluntarily filling out all of the data yourself. In exchange for this, the user receives 50% of what their information is worth. If you don’t feel comfortable sharing certain information (for example, I’m a little leery of sharing my bank account info, especially for a mere $.10/month), then you don’t have to share it…you control whatever information you want to give Invisibly.

Don’t want to share any of your information? Then this clearly isn’t the app for you.

HOW MUCH CAN I MAKE?

Not much. Not much at all. You know how I mentioned that you get a point for everything you interact with on your feed? Yeah, well what I didn’t mention is that there’s a 20-point limit per day. That means that, assuming you sign in and use the site every single day, you will be making $1 every 5 days, at most. And at that rate, it will take you 25 days to reach the cashout minimum.

A screenshot of Invisibly's Data Connection screen, allowing you to trade info for pennies.
Give your bank account and browsing info for a whopping 30 cents per month!

Also, as I mentioned in the previous section, you can connect bank account and install the Chrome extension to make some extra money through what Invisibly refers to as “Data Dividends”. When I first signed up a couple of months ago, they allowed you to link social media sites on top of their bank account and Chrome extension options to earn extra money. And they paid 200 points for the latter, and 75 points for the former (per month). Each social media account also netted around 25 or so points, giving you the chance to earn extra points in order to cashout quicker.

However, they just "updated" the site with a message that states all the social media connections are being axed (supposedly temporarily), leaving only the Chrome extension and bank account as options to connect. And in what can only be described as "terribly misguided", they now only give you 20 points for the former, and 10 points for the latter. Meaning if you give them your banking information, you get a whopping 10 cents per month. I don't know many people who would have done it when it was $.75...dropping it down to $.10 drops that list of people down to "none".

An image of Invisibly's warning that all social media connections are being axed, hopefully temporarily.
The pop-up that has taken away a large chunk of my monthly earnings.

Honestly, I’m not exactly sure how the payment for Data Dividends work, but I got a 15 point payout on the 15th of the month I signed up (October), and then the remaining 34 points on the 25th. Then in November - my first full one on the site - I received 34 points on the 15th, and then another 34 on the 25th. So it seems to be every couple of weeks, or so, but not really sure about the specific schedule. With the social media options eliminated, my earnings through the dividends took a huge nosedive: I now make 5 points every few days. Five. Down from 34. That makes the app even more pointless than it already was.

Another issue I have: It's also unclear how the payout for "connections" operate. Each connection is listed next to the amount of monthly points you accrue for linking them. When I first signed up, I had 335 points worth of monthly connections...and only received about 74 out of that total over the month. I finally referred to the FAQ, which went into slightly more detail, by saying the total displayed is what you can "expect" to make in a given month, although there are no specifics beyond that. So how in the hell does one make the maximum amount of money? By posting more to social media (when those connections are available)? By using Chrome for a certain amount of time? And why the hell is the bank account connection worth even less than the stupid Chrome extension? For a "privacy forward" app, there seems to be much less transparency than one might expect.

A screenshot of Invisibly's "Feedback Credit" screen
Look how quickly all those pennies add up!

Again, the pop-up message made it sound like the decrease in connections is only temporary while they build the next beta release: presumably once it opens up to the public, they will be added once again. The owner - who’s none other than the co-founder of Square - has gone on record saying that users of the current version can make anywhere from “$60 - $100” per year using the site (although with data dividends being decreased, I would imagine that number would be much lower now). However, he says once they attract more and/or larger advertisers, that number could skyrocket up to $1,000. Per year, per user. That could certainly make things more worthwhile for a lot of people.

But that’s also a great big “if”.

PAYOUT OPTIONS

As stated before, the minimum cashout amount is $5 (or 500 points). Once you accrue that amount, you can cash out to PayPal. Currently, that seems to be the only way you can get paid, so if you don’t have a Paypal account, and are unwilling to create one, then this will be a waste of your time. It will be interesting to see if they add additional options at some point in the future, especially as the site exits beta mode and goes public.

Another note: You have to be a member for at least 30 days before cashing out for the first time, but considering it will probably take longer than that for new users to reach the minimum threshold, that shouldn’t be a problem for anyone. At least not in its current state.

It took me about a month-and-a-half to accrue the 500-point minimum required for cashing out; it should be noted that I used it off-and-on when I remembered it, so it wasn't a consistent, every day type of thing. The second time I cashed out it took me less than a month, thanks to the increase of data dividends; with those being axed to an almost nonexistent number for me, it will probably take me at least two months to be able to cash out again. For $5. That’s not really worthwhile.

Since the app is in “beta” (which I’m saying for the hundredth time, and will still state a few more times below), I’m going to stick around at least for a few more months to see if anything changes for the better. If nothing else, I would imagine payments would increase once the app goes “live” so that they can entice more users into joining; since there are a growing number of apps that claim to give users a percentage of the money they earn, they’ll need to pull out all the stops in order to attract more users.

AVAILABILITY

Despite sounding like a mobile-themed app, it’s currently only available on PC, although Android and iPhone versions are being developed. The Android version is already available on the Google Play store, however, signing in is impossible with a Google sign-in (it says “Some Other Error Happened” indefinitely), which I’m assuming is a glitch. That's been happening since November. Why it’s not only still available for download, but also pushed on Invisibly's front page, is baffling, since first impressions are crucial to maintaining consumers, and a broken app isn’t the best way to instill confidence in your product. The company stated on social media that their iPhone app would be ready about two months ago, but as of the time of this writing, there still isn’t one available.

Get used to seeing this error every time you try to sign in with Google in the Android app.

Those sound like red flags, and they very well could be, but the fact it has support from the co-founder of Square behind it helps to at least turn them into "only" pink flags.

On the upside, as an obvious workaround, you can always just use the Invisibly site on your mobile phone or tablet. It’s just as easy to operate as the desktop version, with the ability to scroll through a neverending line of vertical posts which you can like or dislike according to your interests. I might actually prefer that to the PC version, which spreads posts out horizontally and looks slightly more…overwhelming? Cluttered? I don’t know the right word, but the mobile version looks better and cleaner, in my opinion.

SUPPORT

As per the usual, I haven’t had a need to contact support, so I can’t verify or deny how quickly they respond to complaints and/or questions. I would assume that, since they are in beta (another mention!), they would be pretty quick to respond, in order to iron out issues before it goes public, but that’s just pure speculation. Also, since they’re so new, there really aren’t too many reviews out there detailing support experiences, either positive or negative. If you’ve used Invisibly and have contacted support, please feel free to comment how it went…I’d be interested to know!

OVERALL
PROS (+)
+Low cashout minimum
+Very easy to use
+The chance to get paid for your data is a nice idea

NEUTRAL (+/-)
Still in “beta” mode
Money made depends largely on what information you’re willing to volunteer

CONS (-)
-Accruing points is a slow process
-No working mobile app (even though it’s peddled on the website’s main page)
-PayPal is currently the only payment option
-Not for everyone, especially those into protecting their personal data
-Specified “Data Dividends” are rough estimates and not necessarily the amount you’ll make
-Eliminated social media connections, which have severely cut my earnings (from about 74 points per month, to 10)

It’s still in “beta” mode (felt the need to mention it yet again!), and that certainly plays a part in the ratings, which will be updated as the site continues to grow (or flop). As of now, there really aren’t too many ways to make money, and the way the company works is kind of shady (although they’re at least mostly up front about what they will do with your info). The fact you can only earn the equivalent of $.20 per day by liking and disliking posts in your feed puts it on the lower end of GPT sites in terms of “earnability”, and even connecting optional accounts (bank account and Chrome Extension) only nets me around 10 points per month (down from about 75 for me when social media connections were active). The owner is the co-founder of Square, so there’s at least some legitimacy behind it, and he’s gone on record saying users could earn up to $1,000 per year as the number of advertisers grow, but that’s a pretty big “if” to hang your hat on.

Since it’s still in its early days, it’s far too early to completely write this one off. I’ll continue to use it to see how it progresses in the coming months, and will be sure to update this accordingly. As for those on the fence about whether or not to sign up, I’d probably suggest waiting until more advertisers come on board. Unless you don’t mind making the equivalent of a small cup of coffee every 30 days.

RATING: 3.5/10.

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