The latest ad frontier: Solve Media lets you advertise on authentication tests

Advertisers are always looking for new ways to get attention, and startup Solve Media has come up with a clever way to bring eyeballs to ads: It’s placing ads on captchas — those authentication tests you take (pictured left) to verify you’re not a computer.

The system works by presenting users with a brand logo and message instead of garbled words, numbers, and shapes — as is common — to authenticate a captcha. Users are asked to type in whatever is stated in the message, in theory creating an association between the two.

The approach, says the New York-based company, is a win-all: users are presented with something easy and simple to decipher, advertisers pay only for messages typed in correctly (and not impressions in general), and publishers get to kill two birds with one stone by monetizing their pages while also authenticating humans for the task at hand.

It’s a smart and clever take on advertising, and one that’s already beginning to show traction and results. The startup has so far partnered with big-name advertisers and publishers including Toyota, Microsoft, Universal Pictures, AOL, and Tribute, and reports seeing a 1200% greater message recall than regular banner ads.

Publishers can sign up with Solve’s system, called In-Type, and test the waters by replacing their existing captcha systems. The inventory may not be sparse and plastered across the site, but in the larger picture, a lot of attention can go to even a single captcha box in the right place. Also, given its alternative, it is additional inventory that doesn’t leave much to complain about.

Seeing that it essentially combines two of the more undesirable parts of the web — ads and captchas — Solve’s challenge as it goes forward will be to prevent itself from becoming a third. Instead, if it can make captchas faster and easier for users, and partner with advertisers that provide relevant, interesting, perhaps even humorous brand messages, it could see itself becoming something of a more desirable nuisance on the web.

Solve Media is backed by First Round Capital, New Atlantic Ventures, AOL Ventures, among other prominent angel investors.


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