How Captchas Prompt Searches On Google, Bing

Solve Media CEO and Co-founder Ari Jacoby turns boring Captcha boxes into brand awareness and revenue-generating ads. That's according to Steve Ekdahl, director of brand marketing for the Americas at InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), which owns Holiday Inn, Crown Plaza and others.

IHG wanted to encourage more family and vacation customers, so they developed the Vacation Pay program. When people booked a weekend stay they received a $75 prepaid card. The campaign, which ran between May 24 and June 22, targeted consumers in households with an annual income of more than $60,000.

Think creatively when it comes to tying Captchas into search engine marketing. To boost brand awareness, Ekdahl tapped Solve Media's Captcha technology. The ad drove up brand awareness by more than 122% for people who saw the advertisement, pushing click-through rates (CTRs) above 1.5%, about double the rate of standard banner ads. Fifty-seven percent of people who were served the ad interacted with it.



Solve served Captcha ads across several publisher sites in its network including Mapquest, an AOL company. The company supports more than 2,000, as well as more than 250,000 publisher pages.

Ekdahl said although the campaign was not in the budget to run the test, he found the concept too innovative to pass up. "So, I "carved out a small part of the budget," he said. "The campaign influenced recalls."

When consumers went to sites like, rather than typing nonsensical phrases or words into the Captcha, they were asked to enter the words "Vacation Pay." It prompted consumers to launch a browser and type in the phrase to research what the words meant. This prompted people to learn more about "Vacation Pay" through searches on engines, and click through to a landing page that provided more information.

Solve supports about 75 advertisers including AOL, Microsoft, Toyota, and Universal Pictures. In July, the company averaged about 620,000 Captcha type-ins daily, up from 500,000 in June. More companies in the hospitality and travel sector also continue to sign up to make brand advertising more measurable.

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