With all the time people waste surfing the Web, watching Internet videos and playing online games, wouldn’t it be great if they could make money while they do it?

That’s the idea behind Swagbucks, a Torrance website that gives reward points to people who complete their everyday online tasks through its website. Those points can be redeemed for gift cards, prizes and discounts.

But up until last month, Swagbucks users couldn’t earn points for one of the most common online activities: shopping.

Swagbucks launched a shopping feature in early November that allows a person to earn reward points – also known as swagbucks – based on how much they spend at affiliated e-commerce shops such as Amazon.com, Target.com and Walmart.com.

“We’ve been giving all this money back to the consumer, now let’s have them spend it through us,” said Josef Gorowitz, co-founder and chief executive of Prodege LLC, the parent company of Swagbucks. “We came to the realization that if we could bring discovery, entertainment and consumption of commerce to our users, we’d have the full value.”

People looking to earn reward points while they shop can use the Swagbucks shopping web page to click through to the websites of the company’s e-commerce partners. For every dollar spent on one of those partner sites, the shopper can get up to 40 swagbucks depending on the promotion. When redeemed, 100 swagbucks equals $1.

The company also awards points for searching through its customized search bar, watching videos, taking surveys and playing games. When people have accumulated enough points, they can redeem them for gifts or discounts at popular stores. An iPod Nano, for example, costs 20,000 swagbucks. Some retailers give a 20 percent-off coupon in exchange for a certain number of swagbucks.

By expanding into shopping, Swagbucks has tapped a fast-growing industry of affiliate websites sending traffic to e-commerce shops. But the space is already occupied by several companies that reward users for shopping with them. Some of the biggest include MyPoints, a San Francisco company owned by Woodland Hills’ United Online that gives gift cards and cash back when customers shop through the website, and Ebates, also in San Francisco, which offers similar rewards for shopping through its site.

Rebecca Madigan, executive director of the Performance Marketing Association in Camarillo, said having Amazon Inc. as a partner lends Swagbucks’ shopping platform a certain level of credibility. The Seattle e-commerce giant works with only a handful of affiliate channels.


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