CAPTCHAs are those squiggly words or letters that you have to enter on most registration forms. They allow a website to tell if you’re human or a bot wanting to spam the system. Unfortunately, bots keep getting smarter and to keep up with them, it seems CAPTCHAs have become more difficult for a human to answer. Another trend seems to be that every square inch of real estate will be considered for advertising at some point and recently, it has become CAPTCHA’s turn to be considered if it can double as a slot for advertisement. At least two companies are making that pitch to advertisers and website owners, that CAPTCHAs can become a source of revenue for a website. Meanwhile, users are becoming more vocal that CAPTCHAs are not user-friendly and repugnant that they’re becoming vehicles for advertisements.
Solve Media – Formerly known as AdCopy
SolveMedia shows CAPTCHAs in either image, video, or survey format. You might have to type in a company’s logo, play a video, or provide feedback like answering what network you might find a certain TV show on. Some of these formats trade-off security to accommodate the advertisers but at least tend to be more usable than the squiggly words.
You can see examples of the SolveMedia CAPTCHAs in their campaign gallery. Up until a few months ago, I was using SolveMedia on a few of my sites to cut down on the amount of spam comments and e-mails I was receiving. It worked. Spam dropped off almost completely. Unfortunately, the number of legitimate comments and community feedback was also reduced.
The worst part of SolveMedia is their payout policy. To give you an example, many ad networks have a threshold that must be met before they will cut a check to the publisher (often there is a lower limit if PayPal or EFT is used). The most frequent amount required that I have encountered is $10 although other amounts like $25 or $50 are common too. If you haven’t earned $10 in a month, it will roll over to the next month until you earn $10. Google has a payout threshold of $100, which for a small blogger can take a while to reach.
SolveMedia, in comparison, requires that you earn $200 before they will pay a publisher. Going against your odds is that the payout per solved CAPTCHA is very low. Whereas a click on a Google ad can net anywhere from $0.30 to $2.50 or so, completing one of SolveMedia’s CAPTCHAs might result in $0.03. That will take a while to add up to $200. In the video above, it touts the benefits of interactive puzzles over display advertisements but if that’s the case, why is the payout so low.
From the Terms of Service:
Notwithstanding anything to the contrary herein, if a Party’s earned balance is less than Two Hundred Dollars ($200), no payment shall be made until the amounts owed by the other Party exceed such amount.
As a result of the horrible payout and feedback from site visitors that they were either having problems with the Type-Ins or didn’t like being forced into ads, I stopped using SolveMedia and wouldn’t recommend it unless a site gets significantly more visitors and comments.
Ads Captcha takes a similar approach to their advertising-centric CAPTCHAs but also bring something new. They have similar banner and slogan CAPTCHAs but they also introduce Slide-to-fit CAPTCHAs where you slide a scrollbar to align an image or bring it into focus. You can also choose to use the security-only, hard-to-read letters CAPTCHAs.
I haven’t used Ads Captcha on any of my sites but I have had to answer the Slide To Fit CAPTCHAs in order to get to certain webpages. They seem much more satisfying than trying to identify and type in squiggly letters though to be fair that might be due to the fact that I have recently had bad luck with a lot of CAPTCHAs where the answer wouldn’t be accepted or the letters would be indiscernible.
From Ads Captcha’s User License Agreement, they don’t seem to have a payout threshold. They are just “net 60” and pay the publisher based on the puzzles solved, assuming they were paid by the advertisers.
Ads Captcha provides WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, and phpBB plugins to easily implement the CAPTCHAs as well as a guide for a few common programming languages. Solve Media also provided WordPress and phpBB plugins as well as instruction on how to include the CAPTCHAs in custom code.
With the promise of another source of revenue, these advertising-centric CAPTCHAs may be starting small and going big. With spam as the alternative, many sites may be easily enticed with these companies. For me, I’m happy these are in the rearview mirror and that I found other solutions to the spam, like deleting it manually and the WordPress Spam-Free plugin.