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Ticketmaster leaves ReCAPTCHA behind, will verify users with advertising instead

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Ticketmaster Solve Media CAPTCHA system
Ticketmaster Solve Media CAPTCHA system

Ticketmaster is doing away with one of the most painful parts of conducting online transactions on its site — and hoping to monetize customers even further in the process. At issue is the use of the CAPTCHA (Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart) verification system. It's the series of distorted or marred letters users see at the end of some online transactions, where they need to type in what the words really say before they can finish their purchase. It's designed to prevent bots or other automated systems from taking advantage of websites — to keep scalpers from snapping up all those Depeche Mode tickets before fans get a chance, for example. Ticketmaster has been using Google's ReCAPTCHA, which in its efforts to confuse machines has become increasingly complicated for humans to understand as well.

The new system Ticketmaster is adopting comes from Solve Media. Called Type-In, it's still a CAPTCHA system at heart — users need to type text into a box — but it aims to make things easier by using text that is more readable. Questions and logic puzzles are also thrown into the mix, along with one additional wrinkle: advertising will sometimes be involved. According to Solve Media's website, Type-In "replaces the random letters generated by a traditional CAPTCHA authentication with paid brand advertising."

It certainly appears to be a cleaner, more user-friendly option

It's an intriguing approach, and in the examples we were shown it certainly is a cleaner, more user-friendly option (according to Ticketmaster, around 50 percent of the CAPTCHAs it currently serves have already moved over to Solve, with the remaining still to come). While advertisements are all too commonplace on the web, one last-minute ad to close out an unrelated ticket purchase may be frustrating to users — but if it can help them avoid refreshing a cryptic, warped phrase three times in a row, it may be a compromise they're happy to make.