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Chitika eMiniMalls Review

Posted By Darren Rowse 28th of September 2005 Advertising, Chitika eMiniMalls 0 Comments

If you read this review of Chitika eMiniMalls and sign up – you might also be interested in my Chitika eMiniMall Tips Page and my post revealing how much Chitika eMiniMalls earn me.

Over the past few weeks I’ve been a part of a beta testing program of a new ad format for Chitika’s eMiniMalls.

They are a new type of ad that many of you will find quite beneficial for your blogs – I know I have. You’ve probably seen them around. They come in a range of sizes but usually have a picture of a product and then some tabs running across the top that say ‘Description’, ‘Best Deals’, ‘Reviews’ and ‘Search’. As you put the cursor over the top of these tabs they change what the ad shows.

I’ve added one to the sidebar here at ProBlogger so you can see what I’m talking about in the flesh and have added a screen capture of another sized one below.


How do they work?

– ads pay on a per click basis. The value of the clicks depends upon the product being featured.
– left in default mode – mini-malls are contextual ads (ie they look at your content and try to find ads that are relevant with it)
– ads can be set to be non contextual and to target specific keywords (this is helpful when it comes to running them in conjunction with Adsense – more information on this below).

How Profitable are they?

The terms of using eMiniMalls don’t allow me to share specific figures but I can share the following:

Overall – I’ve been beta testing mini-malls for 5 weeks now and am very happy with them. They don’t out perform Adsense for me yet – but my overall earnings with them for the month of September is more than a quarter and less than a half of my Adsense earnings for the month (regularly readers will be able to do some sums and come up with some approximate earnings there). Take into consideration that I don’t have them running on every blog I own and have not spent much time optimizing them yet and you’ll see that they have some real potential.

Cost per Click – Very good. The first day I added mini malls to and saw the amount that each click was paying I was quite surprised. They are considerably higher than my average click value on Adsense – some days they are 5 or 6 times higher. I’ve talked to a couple of other bloggers using them and they report similar click values. This is the definate strength of mini-malls.

Click Through Rate – The percentage of people clicking on eMiniMalls ads is considerably lower than what I get on Adsense. This is a bit disappointing and is probably for a number of reasons.

  • Poor Optimization – This is partly my fault. I’ve just not had time to really optimize the ads properly. It is also partly because they are not currently offering channels to track ad performance on different blogs/categories/positions. As a result if I were to try to optimize the ads now I have no way of tracking the results. Channels are a feature that will be added shortly however so I’m expecting to be able to increase my CTR somewhat.
  • Poor Ad matching – Chitika are still working on how they match ads with content. Ad relevancy seems to be a bit of a problem on some posts. I know this because I know they have ads for some products that just don’t show up on pages where i’d expect them to. Hopefully they’ll continue to develop their algorithm and find ways of making ads even more relevant.
  • Lower Numbers of Ads – I’m suspecting that Chitika has a lower number of ads than Adsense to select from to run on sites using mini-malls. This means that sometimes ads can be a little irrelevant to your content which would decrease CTR also.

Let’s hope they can increase CTR in future.

Reports – I’ll emphasize that mini-malls are in beta at present so don’t expect too much in the reporting realm yet. At this stage they just update at the end of each day and give you some basic stats under the four headings of – Date, Impressions, Clicks and Revenue. These stats are what they call ‘unaudited’ – which means they haven’t taken anything off the total that they suspect to be click fraud or ‘dodgy’ clicks. They ‘audit’ you at this stage once per month (they have indicated that this will happen daily at some point in the future). I was only in the system for three days of last month but the auditing brought my ‘unaudited’ figures back by about 10% of what they were. Clicks are audited by some secret process that includes multiple or repeated clicks, traffic from bots and spiders as well as traffic coming from certain countries like China or Korea.

I’m not too impressed by the auditing feature. While I understand why its there I can see that this will be the cause of some tension between Chitika and Publishers. I’m sure Adsense has some sort of system in place that does something similar – but they are big enough to build it in as a real time feature so that publishers just don’t know what they lose. I’d rather not know the amount they take off for this than have it dangled before me to be taken away later.

I know from my conversations with Chitika staff that the reporting system will be undergoing significant improvements in the coming weeks and months.

Ad Formats – The currently offer 10 different size formats in some pretty standard sizes. I’ve recommended to them that they add a couple of new formats that I believe would be beneficial to bloggers but overall the options are pretty good. They also allow you to make some changes to the design of your ads by changing colors of borders, title and text to match your blog.

Payment – Payment is via Paypal in US Dollars at the start of every month – around 30 days after the end of the month you’re being paid for. You need to reach a minimum of $10 to get a payment.

Can Mini-Malls be used in conjunction with Adsense? – Most people I talk to about mini-malls asks this – it’s important as most bloggers want to use them in conjunction with one another.

I’ve talked to Google about this via email. The first email I got back from them said ‘no’ you can’t use them for two reasons:

  1. They look too similar to Adsense Ads
  2. They are contextual ads

I decided to follow the email up pointing out two things.

  1. They actually don’t look like Adsense ads – they have a picture in them, tabs etc. I think the mistake Adsense made at first was in confusing mini-malls with Chitika’s other ads which do look very similar to Adsense ads.
  2. You can actually disable the contextual element of the ads and plug in code that targets a specific product.

The email I received back said that they were sorry for making a mistake and that Chitika mini-mall ads can be used in conjunction with Adsense IF they are set to be non contextual.

I know of two others who have had this same conversation with Google with the same results.

English Sites only – at this point they are in beta test and only accepting Engine sites into the program. While this is sad for non English sites I guess they have to start somewhere. Hopefully they’ll widen it later at some point.

All in all – I’m pleased with Chitika’s mini-malls. They have loads of potential. I suspect (and until I get channels I won’t know for sure) that they will do best on product related blogs. They seem to serve very relevant ads to my gadget type blogs and struggle on some of my more ‘news’ related blogs.

I’ve also seen them producing very relevant ads over at ShoeBlogs (remember in the interview I did with Manolo that he said that chitika ads were in some of his better performing ads). I’ve also seen a couple of bloggers so impressed with mini-malls that they’ve ditched Adsense all together as they were able to earn significantly more from Chitika (one of these is Jeremy Wright from ensight.

As with all new ad programs I would suggest that putting all your eggs in one basket is not the way to go – give Chitika a go by all means but keep in mind that eMiniMalls are in a beta test and as with all beta tests things are being tested and tweaked along the way. There is promising signs but take your time with it.

You can apply to be a part of the eMiniMalls beta test at Chitika Mini Malls Sign Up.

Disclaimer: the links to Chitika in this post are affiliate links – if you sign up using these links I earn a small amount as a commission. It does not impact what you earn from Chitika but rather is paid by Chitika. While these links are affiliate links I genuinely believe in the product and have pointed out both its benefits and weaknesses.

Update: A couple of people have asked for more information on the Adsense/Mini-mall running on the same page thing. Here is an excerpt from an email that Google sent associates and I when we asked them for clarification about running the mini-malls in a non contextual mode.

‘Yes, you can use the Chitika products that rely on keywords selected by
you as opposed to your site’s content, on your site in addition to Google

For additional questions, please visit our AdSense Support site at or feel free to reply to this

Update II

If you’re one of the many bloggers who have just signed up for Chitika eMiniMalls after reading this review you might like to check out Quick Online Tips who have just posted tips on running Chitika eMiniMalls & Google Adsense on Same Webpage.

There they give code that helps you to set your eMiniMalls up in a way that is non contextual (and is therefore allowable with Adsense) but in a way that rotates a variety of ads which will help you to get a bit of variety in your ads which will help combat ad blindness.

I’ve been using this rotating ads code over the past day or two and have noticed an increase in earnings already.

Another thing I’ve noticed is that the bloggers that are reporting the best successes with eMiniMalls are the ones that are targeting products on their blogs. I know I mentioned this above – but bloggers with a focus upon gadgets, clothes, shoes etc seem to be doing very well from them.

Update III – I’ve added a Chitika eMiniMall Tips Page for those of you who have signed up. Enjoy.

Share what you’ve learnt about eMiniMalls below in comments.

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.
  1. I have seen these Mini Malls popping up on a lot of gadget type blogs lately. Needless to say, I have just signed up an account. I only hope it doesn’t take them three days to review my site.

  2. Darren – We’ve been using mini-malls for the past few months and have had similar results. Much higher click values but much lower CTR (in comparison to Adsense).

    Robb D – Our site is a gadget site and the matching results for Mini-Malls have been so-so. Alot of the time we are showing ads for BBQs on cell phone pages. However, we talked to Chitka about the problem and they’ve done some manual tweaking to our matching criteria so that only mobile phone ads get shown. If you have similar matching problems I encourage you to give them a call.

  3. I’ve had 10$ clicks. I’ve had 30c clicks. Overall it performs much, much better on Ensight than anything else I’ve ever done.

    The auditing and reporting tools need a huge amount of work, though.

  4. I too am experimenting with Chtika mini-malls. Great results so far except they also took a chuck of my adsense revenue.

    I think they’ve got a great product here, one that will be copied by many.

    and yes, the auditing and reporting tools need a huge amount of work

  5. I put them on one of my blogs a few days ago and I was amazed by click values I recived. The only problem I have is that ads are not relevant all the time (3 out of 5 are good).

  6. Gold! Thanks, Darren. I really appreciate you taking the time to let us know how new advertising ideas work in the real world. I’ll give Chitika a spin to see how it works in my world. And thanks for posting the referral link disclaimers – it’s nice to see someone being very forward about commissions on a product they recommend.

  7. Thomas says: 09/28/2005 at 3:30 am

    Thanks Darren! I had never heard about this company but they look good. I’m going to give them a try.

  8. I signed up last weekend as I had started seeing these ads ‘around’ the blog. As an “interested user”, stuff that peaks my curiosity always catches my attention. These mini-mall seemed strange to me and I did click these ads many times before I really understood what was going on, and that it WAS just an ad. Further, it took me more clicks to figure out that the source was through chitika. Could this explain why clicks are so high? C’mon .. didn’t any of you guys keep clicking until you figured it out? Maybe it’s me? It’s worth a try to get in on this curiousity clicking before it becomes a common anchor out there :)

  9. I signed up and was approved today. Replaced one of my Google ad units on Poker Chip Tricks with a Chitka and added the targetting feature to it. I’m always trying out new services to try and beat Google, but so far nothing really comes close (not even YPN). I’ll let you know how it goes after a few days.

  10. They are nice. Too bad their JavaScript doesn’t work in Firefox. There are two errors that cause the ad to not be displayed. I sent a support request to them to let them know.

  11. Following up on my comment above: I got a (very fast) response from support and they said it looked like I had a bad version of their .js file cached. I emptied my cache and the copy it downloaded after that was indeed different than the cached version.

    So, if anyone else is having this problem clear your cache and reload a page w/the ads.

  12. If we can’t contextualise them on a page with AdSense, will their effectiveness decrease? there’s little point me putting ads for shavers on a site about pianos.

    I like the look, maybe I need to take AdSense off my front page and use these. AdSense doesn’t seem to do too well on front pages anyway.

  13. Sorry for two comments in a row – does ‘non-contextual’ mean you can’t set the mini-malls to automatically scan your page, or does it mean you can’t use it to manually promote a particular product that is finely related to the content of the page.

    Here’s an example to clarify what I’m trying to ask:

    If I disable the contextual feature in mini-malls, but then add a WordPress custom field that I set for each article, that is fed into mini-malls to pull in a particular product that’s relevant to the page, does that count? Or does it then just become an affiliate program, which is allowed? It’s what I used to do with Amazon.

  14. mottebonk says: 09/28/2005 at 7:14 am

    Andy asked> ‘non-contextual’ mean you can’t set the mini-malls to automatically scan your page.
    I believe so. They claim to have a couple of choices:
    1) Set your own product. You can do this using the WordPress technique you mentioned. Another way is to pass in the title of your blog post. You can do this by adding a line to their code: (Geez. I wish they would make it simpler to do this)
    ch_query = ‘ipod mini’; // will target to the query “ipod mini”
    ch_query = ‘ M9805LL/A’; // will target to the Manufacturer code or UPC

    But hey .. not everybody wants to set their own queries. So:
    2) Let their system learn over time what works. I have been using them for a couple of months now. Initially when content scanning was turned off, I set my own query based on the title of my blog. If I screwed up with my title, it would show ipods and the like. Then after a few days, the ipods stopped and I was getting more relevant results. All in all, I am happy with them. Can’t argue with more money.

  15. Thanks mottebonk.

    Can I clarify, that Google considers ‘contextual’ to be any system that effectively does what it does, scans the content and serves relevant items.

    I ask, because effectively passing a keyword or the title will (hopefully) cause mini-malls to provide ads that are in context to the page.

    Do you see what I’m getting at?

  16. I sent them an email asking if I could specify multiple phrases for the ch_query variable. Since I don’t want the same item to be displayed all the time. Their support responded in less than 10 minutes with a simple solution. Just use a javascript trick.

    I thought I’d pass it along in case anyone else wanted to use it. Replace ‘phrase1’ with your phrases

    var ch_queries = new Array(‘phrase1’, ‘phrase2’, ‘phrase3’);
    var ch_selected = Math.floor((Math.random() * ch_queries.length));
    ch_query = ch_queries[ch_selected];

  17. mottebonk says: 09/28/2005 at 7:43 am

    Andy> Do you see what I’m getting at?
    Yes. Looks like Google has a problem with other ad companies scanning pages and doing content analysis. They dont seem to have a problem with you providing a keyword or product or title. In essense, by having you provide a keyword or title, you are doing affiliate marketing without all the hassles of affiliate marketing.

  18. Well now, I’ve seen those on a couple of other blogs and thought they were nifty looking and had it on my to do list this week to find out where they came from and go get me some. How fortunate that you did all that leg work for me, Darren! So in gratitude, I have clicked upon your affiliate link and signed myself up for the program. We shall see what we shall see. Thanks again!

  19. That sounds good.

    I’ve applied so will wait to see if I’m accepted. Will probably add it to my more product-based blogs and see what happens.

  20. Concur with your analysis, just on those talking about the contextual stuff you need to set up the produce manually in the code, it can be “in context” if you like but it cant be served automatically, ie by a contextual engine. It’s really annoying that Google is so strict on the rules though.

  21. I had tried it some times ago. But Google said No that time before I got any result. Well, it seems that I should try again. :-D

  22. […] After reading Darren’s review on Chitika, i now have a pretty good idea on Chitika and i think i’ll start using it along with AdSense because i read from everywhere that Chitika is paying really well. […]

  23. Unfortunately they don’t appear to have a very wide range of products for different niches. Lets hope they will soon.

  24. Great tip about the multiple phrases Nick — was just about to email them about that myself. I found the contextual targetting pretty awful, but being able to pick a range of products to display works for me… I think once they’ve got a better range of partners (and products) could be a nice earner.

  25. I’ve just put it on one of my product blogs usiing the title as a reference, and it seems to be doing fairly well. In the main, even when it isn’t bringing up an exact match to the product, it brings up something relevant to the blog.

    A few times it has brought up a weird item based on a keyword, but that’s to be expected. Another reason to hone my titles, or switch to inputting my own keywords for each article.

  26. Don’t forget (apparently) to turn off the contextual code by adding the line inside the script… “ch_non_contextual = 1; ” (per chitika) in addition to the random scripting Nick mentioned #16. That could be the reason of weirdness of mixed showings.

    I put the code up on my products site last nite ( and used each of the names of the categories as the random reference phrases .. about 50 of them .. instead of using product names or blog titles as the reference, like ipod etc. and it seems to be working great or at least fitting in with the rest of the products in the site.

    About an hour ago I put the code on my personal site ( and I used 4 terms .. ‘weight loss’, ‘medieval’, ‘renaissance’ and ‘wedding’ … I seem to be getting 75% showing computers and other electronic gadgets. It may be that these topics just are not popular (yet).

  27. Thanks for that HART – I just followed what it said in the FAQ, but it looks like a plausible tag to add.

  28. Looks like Google is getting some competition..

    Perhaps coincidentally, and perhaps not, my Adsense revenue has increased quite a bit just recently.. making me wonder if the competition has either caused Google to do something to change it or if advertisers are having to bid more.

    Or it might be that my adding YPN ads (and I’m going to go look at this Mini Mall as soon as I finish the comment) has helped combat ad blindness..

    Just wondering if anyone else had noticed Google getting more profitable..

    And on the same subject (which might be something Darren would like to comment on), running multiple types of ads makes tracking results much more confusing. Right now I have Google and YPN and some days Google is better than YPN and somedays the opposite, and sometimes they are about the same. I use Asrep for the Google stuff, so that helps, but now if I add this Minimall thing it will be really confusing..

  29. When I signed up yesterday, I hoped that it woudn’t take the entire three days for my site to get reviewed. I am happy to announce that it only took about 8 hours.

  30. We are using them for three days and can only say good things about them.

    Nick #16 thanks for great tip.

  31. Thomas says: 09/29/2005 at 2:06 am

    The results from yesterday look pretty impressive. For some sites (including mine) it’s definately a lot better than AdSense.

    But I’m getting worried of the auditing. If I really only get to keep 10 percent just like you Darren then Chitika isn’t worth it. When does the auditing happen?

    I’m also a bit disappointed because they only offer PayPal payments. Do you know whether they will soon adopt other things like checks or EFT?

  32. Darren said is was knocked back by 10% – he kept 90%.

    One other thing: on the issue of Google objecting to the ads. I’ve always assumed their policy means that I can’t run other ads on the same page at the same time as Google ads.

    So I rotate – 40% Google, 30% YPN and (as of today – their approval was in my mailbox almost instantly) 30 % Chitika. I’ve *assumed* that’s OK – Google never appears with any competitor.

    Is that how y’all read it?

  33. I’ve been running these for a few hours on four sites – looks very good to me, though since I won’t see any reports till tomorrow, who knows?

    But I have to say *I* like the ads, and would be surprised if they have lousy ctr – they seem mostly relevant and I would think would attract interest. I’ve seen a few I would like to click on if they weren’t running on my site, and they definitely attract the eye.

    But we’ll see tomorrow.. thanks for this tip, Darren – I had looked at these guys quite a while ago and never looked again..

  34. Yes – the adjustment was 10% off the total – I kept 90%. of course this was just on the first three days that I used it so it could be more or less – guess I’ll find out at the end of the month sometime.

  35. Just a note for those with Asia-focussed websites/blogs, Chitika don’t recognise ANY traffic from Asia — confirmed by them to me by email:

    “…We are out of luck here. At this time, we have noticed that clicks originating from Asia are not convertising into sales at all. Hence, no Asian countries are accepted in the eMiniMalls program at this time…. ”

    At the moment their FAQ is pretty vague in this regard, but they plan to update it soon — stikes me as a pretty heavy-handed attitude.

  36. […] A short time ago I read an interesting review of Chitika Mini Malls by Darren of Problogger who has been involved with beta testing Chitika. Darren’s review is interesting enough that I will be looking into testing these on one of my sites. […]

  37. After reading up about the system, great review Darren, I signed up for both of my sites, and I think it is a fantastic way to increase the interactivity of contextual advertising. I also have an amazon store on one of my sites, so it would be good to see how the chitika system performs against amazon.

  38. I applied and got approved within 12 hrs for Chitika. I emailed Adsense about running Chitika alongside just be sure – they said NO. A repeat email with non contextual stuff and all – same reply NO. So I have emailed them again quoting this post. Let see what they say.

  39. Darren, how have you got that referral banner on top and the affiliate sign up link. I see no such provision in the Chitika ‘get code’ page.

  40. The affiliate program is in beta too at the moment. I made the banner myself after being approved by Chitika as an affiliate. I suspect they allowed me to be one at this stage because I’ve been helping them to develop their system as a beta tester.

    I’m hearing that the affiliate program going live won’t be too far away – within a month I’d suspect.

  41. single mum says: 09/30/2005 at 10:22 am


    I put these on my blog after reading this review a day ago and today I’ve earned just under $150 from them in a day! I know this will probably go down a little when my readers get used to them but it’s amazing!!!

    Adsense was only earning me $40 a day previously!

    Thankyou SOOO much for this review Darren. You have just changed my life.

    I cannot express to you what this means to me. if the $150 per day continues I will be able to go off welfare payments at last and should be able to put my two little kids into some non 2nd hand clothes for the first time in their lives.

    I’m a single mum and never considered being able to earn this type of money. I am so grateful to this blog Darren, you were the one who got me up to $40 a day, but this is is unbelievable. I’m trying not to count all my chickens before they hatch, but wow.

    thankyou so much Darren

  42. Rachel – thanks so much for your comment and for chatting to me on the phone just now. It’s a pleasure to be involved in helping out any way I can. I’m so happy to see that blogging is making a difference for you and really hope that the minimalls continue to pay off for you and grow.

  43. […] During the past few weeks, Darren Rowse has been beta-testing a new ads format for Chitika’s mini-malls. […]

  44. […] Darren Rowse recently offered us an extensive review of the Chitika Mini-Malls that Darren has implemented at ProBlogger. […]

  45. Darren, guided by your excellent review, I have compiled a post about using Chitika’s eMiniMalls ads &Adsense on the same page.

  46. thanks – just linked up to it and added it to this review.

  47. […] If you’re one of the many bloggers who have just signed up for Chitika eMiniMalls after reading my review you might like to check out Quick Online Tips who have just posted tips on running Chitika eMiniMalls & Google Adsense on Same Webpage. […]

  48. Hi,
    I have a basic question. Can I run non-google – in this case chitika ads in a blogspot website ? I have a blog maintained in a blogger account and I am interested in running this ad there. Will google cancel my blog if I run non-google based ads on a blog account of google ?


  49. Make Money with Chitika

    Chitika is quite hot recently since Darren published his Chitika Mini-Mall review. What’s so great about Chitika?

  50. […] bezahlt wird dafür :-) Technorati Tags: Blogging for food Blogvertising Chitika | Permalink | Trackback-URL  […]

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