Solve Media Is CAPTCHA-ing 620K Type-In Ads A Day

Ads are everywhere: They’re in our content, they’re online and offline, they’re on buses, billboards, and more. I’ve been told just to “get used to it” — that the advertising proliferation is only going to continue — so I’m thinking of selling some space on my forehead. Might as well take advantage. Of course, those who are successful in digital advertising are generally those who can find these non-traditional areas to use as advertising space, especially if they prove more effective than typical display (or banner) advertising. Late last year, a young startup called Solve Media began taking ads into a new niche digital territory by reformulating … CAPTCHAs.

Yep. You heard that right. “Captcha” boxes, for those unfamiliar, are those prompts that require users to input an odd array of letters and numbers so that the ticket vendor from which they’re buying tickets (for example), can be sure that the user is not some kind of evil spam robot. Thus, Solve Media’s unique approach is to use its “TYPE-IN” platform to replace those fuzzy words and numbers often used in puzzle-based CAPTCHA systems with a simple logo, or a brand message in quotes — along with a simple input box. Users type in what brand they see, or answer the given question, for example, and then proceed on their merry way.

It’s an interesting approach and has actually tested quite well. For the most part, consumers are far less likely to struggle with Solve Media’s CAPTCHAs than they are with those annoying fuzzy puzzle CAPTCHAs. On the other hand, publishers get to employ a security buffer (when needed), and advertisers get guaranteed views and impressions for their brands. In fact, according to Solve Media CEO Ari Jacoby, consumers who saw a Solve Media type-in ad engaged 29 percent of the time during June of this year — far higher than traditional engagement in other forms of advertising.

Compared to banner ads, in particular, which are nearly universally disliked and rarely clicked on, Solve Media’s type-in model is seeing a much higher level of engagement. And, for the consumer, at least interacting with a Solve Media ad gets them somewhere.

Of course, the fact that a user is basically forced to interact with Solve’s ads would seem a deterrent, but according to Jacoby, so far there have been few complaints. Because, in short, typical CAPTCHAs really are a pain in the ass, and Solve’s type-ins save the user time in comparison. It’s much faster to type in Pepsi than it is to figure out what kind of devil-speak a traditional CAPTCHA is asking you to regurgitate.

Furthermore, in regard to its new approach testing well: Since launching in September of last year, Solve Media has attracted more than 2,000 publishers and more than 75 advertisers. Advertisers, including names like Toyota, Microsoft, Universal Pictures, AOL, and Tribune are now using the platform.

Solve Media saw nearly 15 million successful type-ins across its platform in June, which, according to Jacoby, would be the equivalent of serving 15 billion banner ads — assuming the industry average CTR of 0.1 percent. And considering the average for rich media is about 3 percent, that’s still a significant lift.

What’s more, Solve is also averaging 620,000 type-ins per day in July (up from just over 500K in June), and is growing 15 percent month-over-month, according to Jacoby. And the network has grown over 460 percent since launch. It seems they may be onto something.

In fact, IHG, which owns Holiday Inn, ran an advertising campaign in May and June on Solve’s platform (for its so-called “Vacation Pay”) that delivered a 122 percent lift in brand awareness and 15-times the average CTR, according to comScore.

Solve is growing like gangbusters, and the startup really seems to have hit on a valuable niche space that supports advertising and guarantees brand interaction in ways other solutions (and forms of advertising) can’t. For more, check out Solve’s video below, and tell us what you think.