Online marketing isn’t in its infancy stages, although it might be appropriate to say that the industry is in its terrible twos phase. We’re constantly trying to figure out how to connect with consumers while balancing serious privacy issues and the ever present annoyance factor. As a result, internet advertisers are always trying to come up with innovative platforms.

A company called Solve Media thought up an interesting concept: using CAPTCHA verifications for advertising purposes. Almost everyone is familiar with CAPTCHA codes; they are the text boxes that have users type in specific words to prove their humanity prior to viewing content, logging onto a site, or completing some type of action. Solve Media decided to substitute the random words for marketing slogans along with banner-like ads.

We applaud their creativity, although it’s far too soon to rate the technique’s effectiveness. It’s quite possible that these CAPTCHA ads will prove as popular as the original versions, which are often considered frustrating by computer users. The demos we’ve seen are substantially clearer than ordinary CAPTCHA displays and that’s a big plus. Everyone’s had trouble typing the correct words at some point because the text is usually obscured in some manner. With this platform, it would be rather foolish to distort the message because that would lessen its impact.

Still, most consumers don’t have favorable opinions about CAPTCHAs. This could easily lead them to make negative associations with the publisher’s brand. You’re probably not going to buy products from a company that irritates you when you’re just trying to comment on someone’s blog or read an article. Consumers may also blame the advertiser for technical issues, such as loading speeds, which they may not have control over. So far the response to these CAPTCHA ads has been mixed, but the criticisms are undeniably valid.

Naturally there will be naysayers no matter what. Nevertheless, this is an interesting alternative to standard banner ads and they’re at least a step up from pop-ups. We’d like to get other input about this subject from publishers as well as consumers. If you’re a publisher, would you consider running a CAPTCHA campaign? Consumers: would you appreciate this format or find it bothersome? Please let us know what you think of this technology!

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