CAPTCHA Adverts As Part Of Your Sales Funnel & That Patent Thing

The website real estate around forms is both highly valuable and rarely used effectively.

But when I see the tech media oohing about a 3rd Party captcha service that uses ads, I feel I can add something to the discussion.

4 or 5 years ago one of the best though slighly naughty Adsense tricks was to slap a adsense advert right next to the submit button of any forum form. People make mistakes and occasionally click by accident, or at least the ads get seen.
Worst case scenario was you at least got an advert impression.

Microsoft have a patent application for using advertising as part of a captcha from February 2008, as pointed out by Tim when that application was made public a year ago, and he felt he was being squeezed out of the advert captcha market.

Tim’s solution is slightly younger than Microsoft’s patent, launched commercially in December 2008 to existing customers.

However the concept of tying a brand to a captcha goes back at least 5 years to this post.

Your Captcha Adverts In Action

This is what the output from the Captcha Adverts WordPress plugin looks like.

CAPTCHA adverts

This is what the Microsoft patent shows

Microsoft Captcha Advert

This is what the Solve Media captchas look like.

Solve Media Patent Pending

I would hope the Solve Media (pending) patents are related to turning a captcha advert into an advertising network, and not based on a 5 year old concept that isn’t theirs.

Captcha As Part Of Sales Funnel

In practice for many sites captcha adverts are a terrible idea unless they are part of the site’s own sales funnel.

  • You don’t or shouldn’t show a captcha to members – you have their email address confirmed
  • Many sites are moving over to using a shared comment management system despite the synchronization issues and potential privacy issues. Again a vastly reduced need to use a captcha.
  • The primary reason to use a captcha these days is at the time of account signup.
  • If your site doesn’t gain tons of comments, a payment based upon completed captcha’s is fairly pointless.

A far better scenario is to use a captcha that is either part of the lead acquisition funnel, or to increase awareness for an advertising message that is shown immediately after the captcha is completed such as a one-time offer.

I am sure there is a value to the advertiser – the problem is for most publishers they should be integrating their own messaging, not 3rd party advertising.

Media Memo state

Playing along so far: Advertisers including Microsoft (MSFT), GE’s (GE) Universal Pictures and Toyota (TM), and publishers including Meredith (MDP), Tribune and AOL (AOL).
AOL is also an investor in the company (previously named AdCopy), via its AOL Ventures arm. Other investors, who have collectively put something like $6 million into the company, include First Round Capital, New Atlantic Ventures and angels like Chris Dixon, Roger Ehrenberg, Aydin Senkut and Shervin Pishevar.

Captchas for users who are not logged in for most media publications should be to enhance lead acquisition.

But how about for logged in users?

Captcha For Logged In Users

Completing a captcha is a one time event that is currently looked on as a barrier, when it could be turned into a reward for interaction.

Imagine members (maybe even non-members) could give answers to questions related to the content or other recent events for a prize, but they could only enter by commenting. Blogs run giveaway competitions all the time which reward entry points for placing a comment, though it isn’t really as scaleable as it could be, and the presentation needs to be refined.

For non-members such a competition could be the first step in a subscription funnel.

More on Techmeme but most of it seems like reworked press releases plus a video using Vimeo (who are not for commercial use)

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  1. says

    I don’t know what websites use these captchas but I must say that they are creative. At first I would probably find them quite funny but placed on a blog/website where I would comment a lot they would get annoying and intrusive.


  2. says

    I agree. I know why you have to have captcha, but most versions are not even readable. The best thing to do is to secure your web form so that you have IP Capture and therefore a malicious attack, whilst not imposssible, is less likely. There are captcha codes on article sites where they are asking for six characters and you can only put five in. Is this bad coding, or is it something else?

  3. says

    Hi Andy,

    I can’t help but think that using Captcha this way is just a re-hash of the old interruption model of marketing…

    Lets think about it…

    Your visitor is taking some kind of action (hence the requirement for the Captcha) and they are being advertised to right in the middle of it…

    Sounds an awefull lot like listening to music and hearing a commercial right in the middle of the song…

    I’m a firm believer that the interruption model is dieing… so I don’t think this is usefull except maybe to manage the humanity of a contact form…

    How could this be integrated into a sales funnel? Would someone fill out the captcha when they opt-in to a squeeze page offer? What exactly does the captcha publisher have in mind on this?


  4. Steve says

    This could work in the opposite way as you have rightly mentioned it.
    There has to be a ‘time testing’ phase before I would at least choose to have this.
    No wonders that I would hate my site or the visitors to my site being spammed,hacked or what not !!!!

  5. Jhoe Cannon says

    Captcha’s are a nuisance, but I know they are needed in some places. They are a reminder of all of the irritable things that so many people are capable to doing to others – both online and offline.

  6. says

    I was using this instead of recaptcha for a bit – but several people said that they couldn’t find the word in the ad. while it was obvious to me and several others, there are some who didn’t get the enter this word below thing as the word. we didn’t have enough captcha requests to really add up