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Captchas Aim to Capture Online Consumers' Attention

Posted by Jennifer Sokolowski on January 6, 2011 12:30 PM

Anyone who has ever signed on to a website protecting itself against bots is familiar with the strings of wavy text that users must type in to get past security. "Captchas," as they are called, make for a minor annoyance and occasionally, strange poetry. Now a media company has found a way to turn this ubiquitous security task into reinforcement of a brand message on a captive audience − if only for seconds at a time.

Last September, Solve Media introduced the idea of replacing captchas' wavy text with so-called Type-In ads featuring text that users must type to gain access. These messages are easier to read than the traditional captchas, but hard for bots to read, and they cut down on the time it takes users to enter them. Solve CEO Ari Jacoby says that users' recall of the ad messages that they must type in is about 40%, compared with 3% for typical banner ads.

Brands including Toyota, Groupon and Dr. Pepper have been employing the ads. Now the company is adding video captchas, which have been used in campaigns for the Little Fokkers and Devil movies.

According to Jacoby, captchas are filled out 280 million times a day worldwide. Considering that online consumers are getting better and better at not seeing banner ads, Solve Media's idea is quite clever. Its captchas grabs consumers at a point where they want something − access to content − and present the message in a way that users have to pay attention to it. Marketers looking for ways to collect more online eyeballs ought to pay attention.

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