Here at InkHead Promotional Products, we’re always watching out for the latest trends and innovations in the marketing industry, and every so often, something new comes along that grabs our attention and doesn’t let go. This particular item comes from Advertising Age. In an example of nonlinear promotional thinking, a company called Solve Media has come up with an idea that could either become one more reason to avoid the Internet or a ingenious way to increase brand visibility and brand recall.
We all regard online security measures as part of the cost of operating in a cyberspace infested with spambots and viruses, but do you know anyone who likes CAPTCHAs? For those who don’t recognize the name, CAPTCHAs (which stands for Completely Automated Public Turing Test To Tell Computers and Humans Apart) are those boxes that look like a cross between a word and a Magic Eye picture that one must decipher and type in a box in order to make an online purchase or share an article. While the random character generation and distorted text is meant to foil the automated web crawlers and spambots, too often it foils actual human beings as well. Frequently, the CAPTCHA’s distortion obscures one or some of the characters so much that it requires more than one attempt to get past it—especially if we’re trying to do it before our first cup of coffee.
Since the CAPTCHA box requires such concentration and interaction, that space ends up occupying more of our time and attention than many other elements of the Internet do, and so Solve Media’s idea is simple: sell advertising space there. Instead of the traditional swirly CAPTCHA, an ad with simple text and graphics would appear there and require the user to type in the advertiser’s slogan or brand name. The thinking is that the graphics will fend off spam programs (much in the same way spam emails use graphics to get past spam filters), and the interactive nature of registering the slogan and typing it means that consumers will not only get impressions from the brand but internalize them.
I’m reporting on this because the theory behind this idea is in the same neighborhood as the one that guides Business Promotional Gifts: marketing works best when it’s tied to something potential customers need and use, rather than something they simply look at. It’s why promotional products are twice as effective as television ads and three times as effective as print ads, according to the Advertising Specialty Institute (ASI). Simply put, customers are more receptive to advertising when it appears in a form that helps or empowers them. When you put your logo on a promotional item, that item gets kept and used and seen again and again, generating impressions with the best ROI of any form of marketing.
As for Solve Media’s CAPTCHA-box idea, it may shine or it may fizzle, but kudos to them for looking outside the box…by thinking inside it.