Adverts as CAPTCHAs – Fantastic or Frustrating?
A new CAPTCHA technology that allows advertisers to present consumers with a message or slogan that they have to type into the box, rather than the distorted, illegible words that are currently presented to ‘prove you’re human’ has been launched by Solve Media this week. Traditional CAPTCHA images will be replaced with brand advertisements which require consumers to type the slogan into the box, or complete the sentence given, replicating the text on the advert.
The benefits to both consumers and advertisers that Solve Media are basing their sales pitch on have been the subject of much debate recently, and the real test will be seeing regular consumers reactions to the change and analysing its effect, if any, on brand awareness and sales. With CAPTCHA codes being notoriously confusing recently I’m inclined to welcome this new idea, but I’m unsure of the real advantages (or problems) it will bring for brands.
What is a CAPTCHA?
To quote Wikipedia ‘The term “CAPTCHA” (based upon the word capture) was coined in 2000 …. It is a contrived acronym for “Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart.”’ It is essentially the distorted letter / number combination that you encounter when you submit information or try to view any area of a website that the owners don’t want automated machines to access.
What are the benefits of an advert replacing a standard CAPTCHA?
The main benefit to brands is that consumers are forced to look at, and examine the advert in order to glean the information they need to solve the CAPTCHA and proceed to their destination. The web environment is becoming one where consumer attention spans are approaching milliseconds and display advertising is easy to ignore. This technology presents brands with an opportunity to present consumers with their message in an area that people regularly devote a lot of time and concentration to. Furthermore, users are not only reading and engaging with the information but also writing it down, which increases the depth of processing and makes consumers more likely to remember the message.
In terms of benefits to consumers the top selling point here is that the text is legible and the ‘answer’ is easy to decipher. I’m sure many people will agree that one of the most frustrating things about interaction on the web is not being able to access the information you want because you can’t tell the difference between an ‘l o’ and a ‘b’ when they’re compressed together, italicised and blurred a little. But similarly, will consumers find it just as frustrating to have advertising and slogans forced upon them instead? At least CAPTCHA codes don’t have a sneaky ulterior motive.
What problems could brands face?
New technologies are always a risk for brands that want to get ahead; sometimes it pays to be the first one using it, sometimes it’s better to learn from others mistakes. But by analysing the risks involved it’s easier to make an educated decision. Consumer attitudes towards CAPTCHA codes and their sensitivity to advertising will play a big part in whether branded content will have a positive or negative effect on users. If consumers are frustrated by the illegibility of CAPTCHA codes then they may welcome a change, but if consumers are just annoyed are being unable to access content quickly then it’s more likely they will simply transfer this annoyance with a CAPTCHA to an annoyance with the brand. Conversely, if brands solely want consumer attention and engagement (whether positive or negative) then this may be a successful platform to achieve it.
at WMpS we’re undecided on whether adverts as CAPTCHAs will be Fantastic or Frustrating, but we’d be interested to hear your thoughts too so feel free to leave a comment below…
Matt – “I’m not sure I’ve made my mind up yet – I can see advantages and disadvantages of both sides. I think it’s an ad which is engaging as you need to view it to get the captcha code, but it can be annoying… increasing bounce rates too I presume. But if the product is developed and the advertising can be more tailored to a website it could be successful.”
Meghan – “I think using adverts as captchas is a clever idea, presuming that they’ll only be used when validation is actually necessary. Companies would then be able to reinforce their marketing message while simultaneously improving customer experience levels, as captchas are sometimes notoriously difficult.”
Kayleigh – “For me they’ll be frustrating as I’m conscious of their ulterior motive, but for the average unbiased user I would say that they may be fascinating”Tweet