Battle of the Bots: How CAPTCHA Could Revive Publishing
We used to think we wanted to live in a world where robots and artificial intelligence make our lives easier and more convenient. In the 1960’s the type of technology we dreamt about was so unfathomable it was practically a joke.
But fast forward to today and various forms of automation have infiltrated every aspect of our lives—from smart homes that turn the heat up when they know you’re coming home to programmatic buying and selling of advertising inventory.
I’m sure that last one wasn’t on the minds of Joseph Barbera and William Hanna when they dreamt up the robot-assisted fantasy world of George Jetson in the early 60’s, but the pace of technology has taken us there—for better or for worse.
The ubiquitousness of the internet has made for both a smaller and larger world at the same time. The human species is now more informed and better connected than it ever has been in history. So why, then, are content creators and publishers clamoring about the state of our media in 2015?
Because when something is good, someone will always find a way to take advantage of it—that’s why. They will exploit what is not theirs. They will use something intended to benefit all for their own personal gain.
That’s what has happened with digital advertising. And while my colleague Chad Pollitt posits that display advertising isn’t going anywhere any time soon, we can all agree that it’s getting harder and harder to make a real impact when it comes to consumer engagement and brand awareness online.
The Rise of Ad-Blocking & Traffic Fraud
Ad-blocking and traffic fraud are the culprits that most point fingers at when discussion turns to the dismal state of publishing we face today.
Consumers are blocking ads because the offerings aren’t relevant (or they’re just plain bad advertising). And traffic fraud—whatever the source and cause may be—plays a direct role in serving up the bad ads, as the longer the bot sticks around, the further down they drive bids and, consequently, the quality of ads.
The solution? Dave Hendricks (US President and Managing Director of LiveIntent LTD) suggests that publishers “simply need to start to reduce their reliance on anonymous ad-serving via display ads on their website and migrate to a logged-in audience approach.” By doubling down on a subscriber-based mind-set, Hendricks says, publishers can wipe the dollar signs from their eyes and get back to focusing on providing real value to their readers.
The idea is that they’ll encourage loyalty by continuing to supply free content for subscribers and users who log in with an email address. When publishers can identify users, they can serve them more relevant (i.e., unblocked) ads and continue to pull in revenue.
Hendricks points out that while, yes, asking for an email address in exchange for access to content is interruptive, it’s also not a lot to ask of someone who truly cares about the content behind the shadowbox.
“Publishers who want to survive the current extinction event should take cues from those asking more of their audiences,” he advises. “Retailers ask for credit cards and email addresses in the normal course of their business.”
It’s time to stop guessing about who anonymous readers are and what’s relevant to them, which takes us back to the issue of bots. You’ve got to get people to “sign up” if you’re going to identify and collect data about them—and practically anybody can write a program to sign up for millions of accounts.
In other words: damned if you do; damned if you don’t.
Solve Media Solves the Problem
A little creative brainstorming and you’ll likely arrive at a number of possible solutions to this challenge of true and organic audience growth. One of the newest and most engaging solutions is Solve Media’s branded TYPE-IN™ ads. Recently acquired by Adiant, TYPE-IN™ is an ad platform that transforms CAPTCHA into a consumer touchpoint for brands that actually facilitates participation in the transfer of the message.
“In today’s digital world of ad blockers and fraud, engagement has become one of the most important metrics to measure digital advertising campaign success,” stated Ash Nashed, CEO Adiant. “During our evaluation of the Solve Media product suite, many top tier brand agencies said that Solve Media’s TYPE-IN™ products consistently generate the highest brand and message lift metrics in the digital industry, delivered through a highly targetable and low friction execution.”
According to Nashed, it’s one of the few major branding vehicles where consumers actively type in a brand’s key message, as opposed to the passive display and pre-roll models. By asking consumers to type in a marketing message (rather than laughable, nonsensical words and phrases) the advertiser succeeds at brand/message lift, the publisher succeeds at generating revenue, and the consumer succeeds at accessing desirable content.
Ultimately, it’s about creating a positive content consumption experience for the reader. But publishers need money to create content, and that money typically comes from advertisers. With TYPE-IN™, both parties can scale efforts without sacrificing quality.
How’s that for futuristic fantasy?