Mining Gold from CAPTCHAs

Turning annoying CAPTCHAs into not-so-annoying but oh-so-profitable ads

by Rocco Tarasi

Mining Gold from CAPTCHAsThis innovation goes in the “why didn’t I think of that” category.

Solve Media is turning CAPTCHAs into an advertising opportunity. Instead of displaying random words with lines crossed through them (that personally I often find too hard for even a human to decipher), Solve Media’s CAPTCHA’s are advertisements with phrases or words embedded in them that you need to retype. They claim that this type of ad will increase the user’s recall of the brand. That seems very plausible to me.

Not everybody loves this idea though. On Gizmodo, author Kyle VanHemert wrote:

“They’re the diabolical brainchild of Solve Media, a New York-based startup that’s looking to shove something people typically don’t want to look at—ads!—into a space where people are routinely forced to look—captcha boxes! For some reason, this ungodly pairing makes both of these individually tolerable things a little more loathsome in my eyes, kind of like a combination Pizza Hut Taco Bell.”

Personally I think this is a great idea. As a user, if I have to deal with a CAPTCHA, I don’t care whether it is advertising-based or not. Apparently I’m not the only one; Solve Media has raised $6 million so far.

I could see this idea evolving to make the CAPTCHA even more interactive. For example, an ad for KFC could show 8 pictures of food, with one of the pictures a bucket of wings, and I would need to click on the correct picture to solve it.

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Rocco TarasiRocco Tarasi was an accountant, investment banker, and CFO before becoming a technology entrepreneur.

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