Advertisers, including Expedia, Off & Away and a couple of hotel chains, are supplementing display advertising by using publishers' CAPTCHA security tools for brand messaging.
Publishers use CAPTCHA functionality during the log-in process for security purposes to ensure the user is a human and not a bot.
Solve Media, a Philadelphia-based start-up with backing from AOL Ventures, First Round Capital and New Altantic Ventures, has turned that advertising-free zone into a branding opportunity for advertisers and hopes to turn traditional display advertising on its head by offering a more effective and measurable proposition.
"Essentially, this is the first time that online brand advertising has been made available on a performance basis," says Ari Jacoby, co-founder and CEO of Solve Media.
Jacoby claims type-in advertising delivers 30% engagement, compared with less than 1% for traditional display advertising.
And, type-in advertising performance can be measured using DoubleClick's DART for Publishers, Microsoft Atlas and ValueClick's Mediaplex, as well as attitudinal survey tools.
Solve Media works under the premise that type-in advertising is an effective engagement tool because -- like your teachers always told you -- people remember things better when they write them down.
Online display advertising doesn't provide that level of engagement, Jacoby says.
"Instilling brand memory is very hard to do when people ignore the ad and fail to participate with it," Jacoby says.
So, Expedia.com used the Solve Media solution, with its 300 x 150 units, for several months when it launched its "Where you book matters" ad campaign.
The following is an image of Expedia's type-in advertising on Philly.com:
Notice that Expedia displays its logo, and consumers must type its tagline to proceed.
Advertisers compensate Solve Media on a cost-per engagement basis -- i.e. when the consumer completes the typing of the branded message. And, Solve Media shares revenue with its network of publishers.
Pay-to-bid luxury hotel site Off & Away has been using Solve Media type-in advertising for messages including, "Luxury suites for only $20?"
Off & Away founder and CEO Doug Aley says type-in advertising looks promising, but it is too soon for a definitive verdict.
"As brand advertising opportunities go, this should naturally get better recall than other display ads and we are getting a higher than normal 'solve rate' according to Solve," Aley says. "As an idea, it's definitely one of those 'Why didn't I think of it?' plays, but we're still a little early to declare success."
The type-in brand advertising may help a hotel push a third-night free message or an airline differentiate its in-flight entertainment options, for example.
Jacoby says two hotel chains are using the service and a major U.S. airline is testing it.
Solve Media offers advertisers numerous targeting options, including geo-targeting, channel targeting [lifetstyle, health, technology or women, for instance] and even targetting by browser, Jacoby says.
"We are really trying to change the way brand advertising is bought online," he says, adding that the company is making a big push into the travel vertical and will be attending trade shows.
Any downsides to type-in advertising?
Consumers already may perceive the CAPTCHA (Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart) process as annoying and adding brand advertising to the equation could create more resentment than loyalty.
Nevertheless, Solve Media sees a huge opportunity in stealing some share from offlline brand advertising and what it views as inefficient display advertising.