The Death of CAPTCHA

I just read an article proclaiming that CAPTCHA might be on its last legs.    The acronym is short for ‘Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart.’  The purpose of CAPTCHA is to prevent automated computer ‘bots’ from performing actions on the internet that are intended for people to do.  These actions include making purchases and providing personal information.  The CAPTCHA is a picture of jumbled letters and numbers that the user is asked to reproduce.

I have made light of the CAPTCHA in previous posts and it appears I am not the only one.  Failure rates are high when end users are asked to retype the letter jumble and that leads to frustration, wasted time, and ultimately, lost sales.  Neither the vendor nor the shopper are happy.  Sure the CAPTCHA has prevented non-humans from invading the internet, but it appears it has also prevented a lot or humans from making purchases as well.

The solution proposed is about the last one I would have thought of, but it is strangely simple and effective.  Some companies are starting to run banner ads within their sites featuring complimentary products from other companies.  During the user verification process, they ask the customer to type in the name of the company featured in the banner ad.  As with the CAPTCHA, this ad is always changing so it insures that a human must verify the ad in place.

This new method of verification is great for the vendor.  They know they are dealing with a human being.  They know their customers won’t have to struggle with the squiggly letters in the CAPTCHA.  On top of all that, they make a further profit through the advertising dollars they raise from providing the banner ad space.

Likewise, the new method of verification is great for the customer.  There is no further angst with guessing the CAPTCHA letters as they simply have to type in the company name featured in the banner ad.  If they are so inclined, they can save time by surfing to the complimentary products found in the banner ad.

A new and third party benefits as well.  As long as they don’t compete with the hosting company, banner ad participants have found a new and lucrative home for their product placements.  Revenue is available in a way it was never really available before.

And to think, this all started with complaints about CAPTCHA, the very process which was to prevent the problem!

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