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Good News and Bad News for Chitika Publishers

Posted By Darren Rowse 16th of November 2005 Chitika eMiniMalls 0 Comments

Chitika eMiniMall publishers – Do you want the good news or the bad news first?

The Bad News
Chitika have just announced on their blog a few minutes ago that today they’ve had to make a few changes to their eMiniMalls system in response to working with their advertisers.

It must be a fine balancing act looking after the needs of advertisers and ensuring that they’ve got good conversion rates and responding to the needs of publishers who want good click through rates.

It looks like things might have been tipped a little in favor of the publishers because they’ve just announced that some of the text previously on Chitika eMiniMalls as a live link to advertisers (and therefore a paying link) will be made into static text. This is to combat the curiosity clicking that some advertisers are getting which don’t convert to sales.

The upside of this is that advertisers should see an upswing in their conversions – the downside is that publishers will no doubt see a downturn in their CTR.

The Good News
On the upside of the equation Chitika have announced a two week bonus for publishers. Starting today they will be giving publishers a 10% bonus on top of their normal earnings until the end of November to help compensate for the changes.

This means that while CTR will decrease that the already generous click values (update: this is my experience in my niches where click values are pretty good – I’ve been reminded in comments below that in some niches this is not the case – point taken) will increase for the next 2 weeks – especially timely at this time of year which is usually a good time for publishers of ad systems like Chitika and Adsense.

Other good news is the announcement of coming features in the coming weeks:

1. An option to set alternate urls – this means those of us with a readers from non supported countries (clicks from many Asian countries are not accepted) can set things so that when someone from a country not supported by Chitika reads your blog they don’t even see the Chitika ads but instead could get an ad served that has more chance of conversion.

2. Geo targeting: Visitors from UK will see matching deals from UK merchants – this should lead to better conversions for advertisers and publishers alike. There’s nothing like seeing a pound sign instead of a dollar sign next to a price if you’re a UK reader.

Balancing Act
As a publisher I’m a bit disappointed in the news of an impending decrease in CTR – I’m hoping it won’t be too much. But on the flip side (my wife calls me the eternal optimist) keeping advertisers happy is a key ingredient in any advertising system – without them we earn nothing so hopefully this will not only retain current advertisers in the system but attract new ones in which in turn should increase the bidding price for ads and increase the long term profitability of participating in the program for publishers.

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.
  • Motte Bonk

    I applaud Chitika for making such moves in an open and honest way (smart pricing anyone?). I know that this will definitely cause me some real pain over the short term. However, I’d rather see Chitika get their balancing act right than go for the quick bucks.

    Chitika to me translates to incremental revenue beyond what I get from Adsense. So if this incremental revenue can be sustained that would be awesome.

    Till that time, I am going to try and lessen the pain with some more targeting .. and off I go ..

  • My gut feeling is this is more of a Chitika move than an advertiser move. Regardless of how visitors arrive at a Website they are curious or they would not have clicked. Is Chitika trying to determine how to pre-sell and/or pre-screen visitors now? Do they feel the visitor has too many possibilities to click and that be reducing the click opportunity they will insure the visitor is truly a more motivated and serious buyer?

    The logic seems flawed…

    I’ve often wondered how much latitude Chitika gives its advertisers in what is printed in the ad. It certainly is an advantage to the Adsense system when an advertiser can write or re-write an ad to increase click through.

    There is also the inherent responsibility of Website owners to build sites that encourage conversion.

    Looks like Chitika is getting a crash coarse in dealing with advertiser expectations. I remember when Chitika responded to the “Google Smart Pricing’ issue question when ask if they had it, they responded no, not yet… When I read that I know it would not be very long until the issue would be front and center.

  • That’s great news about the geo-targetting, as I think that’s the biggest stumbling block for Chitika in the UK.

  • I definitely agree with Rob about the Geo targeting, because a lot of my readers are from the UK.

    When I first added the eMiniMalls, my UK visitors clicked out on them out of curiousity, but now most of them don’t bother, because of the US pricing.

    Geo targeting is definitely going to help me increase my revenue.

    Now, if only some of the other programs would follow suit.

  • Did you manage to find where to get statistical information on your adsense ads – it’s not clear to me where to find this?

  • I think that addressing the curiosity clicks is a good move for the long term. Happy mechants will increase ad competition and this would hopefully bring in high CPCs.

    I am thinking that Chitika could do us publishers a favour as well: standardise the comments on the ‘Description’ tab. Right now you get some merchants displaying good info and others just sticking in ‘ships within 24 hours’ statements.

    I think that with a standardised ‘Description’ tab where the merchants provide good product info could be good for both publishers and merchants. Publishers can have a logical follow through if they post about a product. Merchants would get visitors who are in buying mood when they click the ads.

    What do you think?

  • Jacob

    I don’t think it’s right to state something such as: “already generous click values” when referring to Chitika. That is an untrue generalization. You’re inflating the program to something that it isn’t.

    It all depends on the products displayed in the Chitika ads.

    I’m in a fairly tight niche, and the click values on my Chitika ads are more consistent than AdSense, but when everything is averaged out, my click value is higher on AdSense.

    As for the CTR, I have my Chitika ads optimized quite well, I think, and it’s despicably low. I have strong double digit CTR with AdSense and low single digit CTR with Chitika on the same page. In fact, if CTR drops on Chitika, it’s going to start looking like most affiliate programs I’ve attempted to promote: no profit for my efforts.

    Your experience sounds good, but you have something to gain by saying nice things and promoting their referral program, which seems out of character for you, based on what I’ve been reading for months…but it’s important not to state generalizations that are not true.

  • Good point Jacob. I completely take your point and should have qualified that (and I will) with that I was speaking of my own personal experience.

    In terms of the referral program – yep you’re right. I do use it (along with every other Tom Dick and Harry. But I don’t use it in every post (including this one).

    I think I’m pretty fair with my review of Chitika. I’ve acknowledged a low CTR in my review of it as well as other negatives including that it doesn’t perform as well on non product sites, that their statistics has a lot of room to grow etc.

    Yep my experience is excellent overall in terms of earnings – it’s been around triple Adsense the past week – so why wouldn’t I rave about it? I attempt to contain my excitement about it and give realistic reviews but sometimes I guess it all just bubbles over.

  • I’ve had nothing but good times with Chitika, and while no one wants to lose revenue, if it helps keep Chitika viable I’m all for it.

    A little short-term loss for long-term gain isn’t a problem for me at all.

  • Jon

    I’m with Jacob, I have a few sites in different niches and despite tragetting tight products, still I’m only seeing .20/click on average with only a fraction of Adsense’s CTR. Still trying to figure out what the fuss is all about with these ads.

  • I’ve had extremely low CTR with Chitika, to the point that I’ll be removing it from my site. It simply doesn’t perform as well in my niche as Adsense. I can see how it could be a profitable marketing tool for selling goods like cameras on a camera review site, but the lack of effective targeting causes no end of problems in a less targeted niche.

    To compound Chitika’s faults, I suspect there’ll be a massive Chitika backlash eventually. Their ads are incredibly distinctive and seem to be popping up everywhere. I already ignore them, and I expect Chitika ad-blindness will be a growing problem.

  • Chitika’s terminology is funny, “curiosity clicks” is the politest term for “click fraud” that I’ve seen so far. Makes it sound almost positive!

  • Hmmm, I didn’t read “curiosity clicks” as meaning click fraud at all…I was kind of picturing people who click just to get more info, but not to actually buy.

    Hey James, I really dig your site :) You might consider targeting *specific* products you think your readers would be interested in…also, I would highly recommend Chitika Ads on your individual post pages, either directly above or directly below your post…this is the placement that does well on my sites.

  • I am still waiting for October audits. After that I will be able to ascertain if chitika is better than adsense or not.

  • I translate ‘curiosity clicks’ not as click fraud (if someone wants to do that they’ll do it whatever you do to the ads) but as people who click with less intention of buying than people who click because they’re in the market…

    its a bit of a bizarre one – on one level I understand it but it seems strange that they have to make it harder to click an ad to make it more valuable to advertisers. :-)

  • The only thing I have seen with them is plenty of impressions and very few clicks,hopefully this will get better.

  • I’m sure Chitika’s had its own share of problems with click fraud because of all the publicity they’ve been getting. It may be more of a problem than you think. But yes, I’m sure there are “gawkers” who are just kicking the tires and causing the advertisers to pay for no good reason, hence the change. I guess “click fraud” is a bit harsh, but “non-converting clicks” is obviously a problem.

  • I think Chitika should shift more responsibility to advertisers by having an advertiser write the description. Then, only allow Chitika ads to default open with the description.

    As it stands, advertisers can place full responsibility on Chitika for poor ad performance. Chitika should take a lesson from Adsense and distribute the responsibility for ad performance.

    I believe Chitika promised exceptional click rates to advertisers and they have delivered exactly that. I’m also convinced that advertisers translate high click through to high conversion. When that didn’t happen Chitika was took full responsibility, that’s just not appropriate.

    Chitika is a wonderful business model with high potential for advertisers and promoters. In order to pull it off they are going to have to shift some of the responsibility back to the advertisers by requiring them to actively participate in ad writing (descriptions). So when an ad under performs it’s not just Chitika that is held responsible.

  • I am also considering removing Chitika. In fact, my finger is poised over the code in another window right now.

    The payoff has been very, very low: a small percentage of what Google or Yahoo do. I gave them a small percentage of my page views, but even when I tried increasing that, the results were dismal: $3.00 for the same number of pageviews that would bring in $30.00 on Google or Yahoo.

    But I *like* the ads, and I just do not understand why they don’t do better. They are on-target, they look good, it just doesn’t make sense. When I hear Darren and other people say they are doing well, I believe them: these *should* do well. But for some reason they just do not work for me.

    I was going to say I might as well let ’em run out the month, but really, it’s pointless. A 10% bonus on a couple of bucks doesn’t amount to anything. Even Amazon does better than this.

  • I’m still trying to build traffic levels, although I can see chitika ads performing best on my “HART’s Picks” blog, than my other blogs. As for this topic .. I honestly don’t like it being called “curiousity clicks” when there is an “unaudited” and “audited” difference. Does it not seem hypocritical to do both? If they have to adjust the rate – fine. We know they adjust the clicks for fraudulent clicking – fine. But – it just does not seem right doing both – when you are hoping for some click rate, no matter how small, to earn you something. It’s almost like putting amazon ads on your site .. they don’t pay you commission until there is a sale. Is this where chitika is moving towards? If chitika is to survive, naturally they have to do what’s best for themselves.

    Maybe that geo-targetting will help for the publishers. Although, being canadian myself, I hate surfing and clicking on other people’s ads and getting “Sorry-your are out of advertisers area” message. Those alternate URL should be forced in those cases. We can create code to give a rough idea what to show, but we know nothing about the advertisers’ geo preferences being displayed.

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  • Blimey, they certainly meant what they said! My clickthrough rate and revenue has dropped by half overnight. I don’t think their 10% adjustment is quite going to cover it!

  • I echo what Mark Goldstein said. I’ve just logged in to my Chitika account to note a tremendous drop in earnings – way more than half. Thanks Darren, for posting this – everything makes sense now.

  • Chitika has updated their blog page to explain the curiousity clicks issue.

  • The sentence “It looks like things might have been tipped a little in favor of the publishers “ actually contradicts what you say later…

  • Nice – I’m a contradictory kind of guy! :-)