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Learn From My Mistake – Don’t Leave Money on the Table!

Posted By Darren Rowse 17th of October 2009 Advertising, Chitika eMiniMalls 0 Comments

Have you ever found that you’ve been leaving money on the table? It’s a frustrating feeling and one that many of us can relate to. I discovered that I’ve been doing it for the last few months – here’s my story.

I run Chitika Premium ad units on some parts of my blogs – particularly at my photography site on single pages. One ad unit that I’d had running for a while now was one that appeared above posts whenever anyone from the US arrives at my site from a search engine.

I like these ads because they don’t appear to regular readers arriving from RSS feeds, newsletters or other sites – just those people coming in from Google – PLUS the ads that show are contextual ads to the search that the person has just performed.

I’ve always found that the ads convert pretty well – but this week I realised that for months now they could have been converted ALOT better.

I made this realisation by making one simple change to one ad unit – here’s what happened to my earnings on that ad unit when I made the change.


Yep – the ad unit had been averaging around $37 a day – but in the few since making the change it’s earned around $108 a day on average – around 3 times as much!

Considering I’ve had the ad running for quite a few months now – I’ve been leaving money on the table.

OK before I tell you what change I made (and it’s so simple that I’ve been kicking myself for a week now) I want to really emphasise the take home message here – even though it is so very obviously – test your ad units!

Here’s the thing – the chitika ad that I did have in this ad position used to perform to the best of its ability. I’d previously tested it and made sure it was working well. However Chitika added a new option to their premium ads – an option that I ignored. In actual fact someone from Chitika told me to make this change months back – I got distracted (life’s busy) and never got around to doing it.

While I feel pretty stupid and am completely aware that I’ve cost myself thousands by not making this change earlier – I know I’m not alone.

Many bloggers are in the same boat. We put ads on our blogs, get them to a point where we think they’re well optimised and then move on to work on other aspects of our blog without ever coming back to make sure things are still performing at their highest potential. Ad networks change their offerings, add features and sometimes blogs just change and things that used to work well no longer do.

The lesson here is to revisit your ad units and to test if there might be someway to increase their performance. You might not see the tweaks you make bring in $70 a day like my one did – but over time the small tweaks add up!

What was the change I made?

The change was so simple – I just made the Chitika ad unit bigger. The ad unit I used to have on there was a 468×180 pixel sized ad. The new one is a 550×250 pixel ad unit. It’s considerably wider (it now takes up almost the whole width of my content area) and a little deeper.

It does push the content down the page a little but as it’s only impacting search refferal traffic and the content is still above the fold user experience isn’t impacted that much – but the ad performance is so much better (with 3-4 times the click through rate depending upon the day).

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 and LinkedIn.
  1. Just Another Blogger says: 10/19/2009 at 4:03 am

    Thanks for the tip. I was previously using a small chitika ad on my sidebar and was barely getting any clicks at all. I read this post and changed the ad dimensions and put it above my post and I noticed a huge change in the number of people clicking it.

  2. It’s so important to experiment and compare the results to your highest make up, so when new advertising opportunities come, like private ad deals, affiliate banners, or something like Chikita, you can compare the results to your top performing ads for that slot or previous page configuration.

  3. After this post…I signed up with Chitika and got a couple of my blogs approved. (With different accounts) Just starting to try this Premium 500×250 ad and have seen a 2 fold improvement in my CTR. Thanks for this and I’ll definitely keep you updated on the Problogger forum! Thanks…

  4. Testing really means a lot.. I do a lot of a and b testing especially with different ad networks and its not hard to see w/c is performing better and who’s not…

  5. The Premium definitely has worked better. Like you, I’ve never had great results with Chitika and the reason was obvious: poor targeting. It’s improved with Premium, but not enough that I’m willing to give them the prime space that Google gets.

    One odd thing: for several months now they have been paying me more than their reports say I made. Yeah, I know they had that promotion a few months back, but that’s over, right? Last month the reports said I made less than $50.00, but they paid me more than $100.00!

    Not that I’m complaining.. :-)

  6. Thanks for sharing. Maybe I am also making the same mistake.

  7. thanks this is geat .. I’m just goin to sign up chitika after this post … I didnt try it yet but am running adsense , adbrite and amazon .. thanks alot

  8. I run Chitika Premium on my blog but this get a poor perform, and when I change from big size 500×250 to small size 500×120 , I get worst thing from them. I will use your advice to apply the change , so hope it bring some good income.
    Thanks you so much.

  9. Cool story you got here. It would be great to read more about that matter.

  10. It really is amazing that such a small change could make such a difference. It seems that it must have affected the type of ad you are running as well as the size to make such a big difference.

  11. It’s logic that a bigger ad becomes a rentable ad.

    In my web I have many dudes so what is the common CTR for a page. Can you post about it?

  12. Good work I like it. Ty for the share.

  13. I’m looking for themes on my blog I am just starting. Do you think this type of theme would work for my photography blog?

  14. I know that by tweaking adsense ads in even the slightest a big difference will be made. For example, I’ve centered the ads and added a quote above them. It’s a trick I learned from my early Site Build It! days. It’s effective.

  15. I am going thru some of the information on your blog and it’s very thorough an enjoy your informed words of wisdom. I appreciate your directness and expressions. It gives me a better idea in how to structure my blog and consider what to focus on, before getting started on a blog or website.


  16. Amazing how such a small change make such a big difference.

  17. OK, so I’m starting to see the big picture here. Thanks for the post. Very interesting stuff. Cheers! – Josh ~ AMS

  18. That’s funny, i love your article for beginners. I should just give up and take lessons from you

  19. Thanks 4 posting, I found this very interesting and helpful.

    Scott, CA


  20. Gotta love the effort you put into this blog :)

  21. I started using the larger banners myself and have found that the CTR are much higher. I believe there are 2 large banners now – the 550X250 that you mentioned plus there is a 550X300 that also works well.

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