Chitika Premium Failuires With YPN

Chitika has skipped over the downward spiral and jumped right off the back of the slide.  I’ve been using Chitika for 1 year this month and never before have I seen such a drastic change in policy, earnings, impressions, and general contempt from support in dealing with issues.  On April 28, 2010 my Chitika Premium impressions dropped from an average of 2,700 per day to just 3.  You can guess what my earnings have done.

Domain Review and Approval

It all started when Chitika announced that they were taking on advertisers from the Yahoo Publisher Network, which then required all domains to be approved and reviewed.  This review process went above and beyond previous requirements to be a Chitika Premium publisher, although no guidelines have been published or responded to in support tickets.

In addition, even though I had already received Premium ad approval on 2 of my domains, the system now required me to submit every domain Chitika ads would be shown on.  This change in policy was ushered in via email and an automatic sign up to Chitika Select , which promised increased impressions and revenue.  Review of a publishers domains were not supposed to take more than 3 weeks, however that was more than 5 weeks ago and my domains have still not been reviewed.

Generic Responses To Drop In Impressions and Revenue

The worst part about this whole ordeal is the actual feedback and responses I’m getting form the Chitika team.  Originally in May of 2009 when I signed up with them, the support team was outgoing, easy to contact, and offered plenty of advice to get going and maximize my earnings.  However, lately it takes longer to get a response and even then most are canned copy and paste explanations that never really address my questions.

My last support ticket with them took 4 different replies before I could get anything close to an actual response from a real person.  Even after this, I was still left with more questions than answers, most dealing with what kind of guidelines are set for a domain to be approved for Chitika Premium.

Good Enough For Testimonial But Not For Chitika Premium

Another downfall with the latest changes going on at Chitika, which are closer relating to the eBay Partner Network, are that their testimonial pages are filled with publishers who used the old Chitika system.  One of the testimonials proudly displayed on their testimonial review page is one of my own, which is a far cry from how I feel now about the company and Ad network.  I’ve requested my testimonial removed, since its not an accurate representation of how I feel about Chitika anymore and I would encourage others to do the same.

It’s disappointing after a year of publishing for Chitika that now I’m thrown to the curb, without so much as an explanation.  Looking back I’m embarrassed at all the people I referred to Chitika and glorified the program as the next step in online advertising and earning potential for publishers.  Shame on you Chitika.

Conversion Failing of Their Own Design

It’s no secret that the success of Chitika ads were due to the image in place next to the text advertisement.  Many people were using this technique with Google Adsense, until it became obvious that such clicks converted far lower than normal display methods for advertisers.  Adsense was quick to change policies and prohibit the use of images next to their advertisements on a web page.

Chitika adopted and fleshed out the potential for higher traffic and higher earnings through volume clicks, with the help from the images next to ads.  But it looks like YPN has decided that they want higher converting traffic from a network of publishers molded and supportive of the way Chitika was.  Their own ad design allowed for lower converting traffic for advertisers, but now they are punishing the publisher for their mistakes.

Pending Further Review

Lastly, one of my sites is pending further review, which means they are looking into ways to bring my abysmal impressions back up.  Yet this domain is still not good enough for Chitika Premium ads, so what’s the point?  My automotive website has been good enough to draw advertising campaigns from large automotive companies from all over the world, who have continued to use my site as a way to advertise their product.  How is it not good enough for Chitika Premium?  How do I make it better and improve performance for Chitika Premium?  Without published guidelines it’s anyone’s guess.

I hate playing these types of games with advertising companies and the changes in Chitika remind me too much of EPN.  I’ve already removed the majority of my Chitika code from my sites, not that they will miss me, but I’m hurt, angry, and plan on letting everyone that I can know about what I’ve experienced.

Alternate Post Title1 year Chitika Review, Stay AWAY!

Is Chitika Select Right For Your Site?

More impressions. More Revenue.

Hard to pass up a tag line like that, but maybe Chitika Select ads aren’t right for your site.  There have been many discussions surrounding the costs and benefits of utilizing the new Chitika Select addition to Premium ads, which bring up great points, regarding missed opportunities and not just revenue.  Feel free to follow the discussion on the official Chitika Blog’s Chitika Select post.

Darren, from Pro Blogger, made some very important points regarding return visitors.  The temptation of using Chitika Premium ads came from being able to place blocks of advertising to only be shown to search engine visitors, without disturbing normal readership.

Also, the addition of Chitika Select is setup as an Opt-Out instead of an Opt-In, which means if you weren’t paying attention these ads are being served whether you want them to or not.  Luckily, it’s a simple fix and is quickly being made public that the change needs to be made if you don’t want advertisements always being shown to your visitors.  Keep in mind, these ads will most likely be a lot less targeted, since arrival from a search engine is not required to trigger the impression.

I left the Chitika Ads Select run on my automotive website and after a little bit of tweaking on location I managed to increase my revenue by 50%.  My impressions were up a full 30%!  I’ve yet to see the result after Chitika’s dreaded audited report, but for now it looks like I’ll be leaving Select ads running.  I’d also recommend to almost anyone to leave  them running as well, just understand what you are doing. 😉

Chitika Placement Failure

I’ve spent some time discussing the virtues of using Chitika ads next to Google Adsense, but my latest experiment has left me looking for lost revenue.  In this experiment I placed Chitika Ads in my highest click-through location, where I used to keep Adsense ads, directly below my post title.  The result was surprising to say the least.

My impressions dropped by almost half and my clicks fell even further.  I can honestly offer up no reasonable explanation as to why Chitika would fail so miserably in prime realestate.  Keep in mind that I removed Adsense completely from the equation, which would lend Chitika to receiving even more clicks.  What happened?

The lack of impressions I can’t explain, considering statistics for my site remained virtually unchanged, in regards to search visitors.  But perhaps, looking at the CTR, the reason is because Chitika Premium Ads look like ads.  Cheesy I know, but Adsense does a phenomenal job at blending in with content and looking natural.  I think that my visitors liked the natural look rather than the picture next to an ad trick.

It will take more testing to know for sure, but lets just say for now I’ve moved Chitika back down to the bottom of the page.  Time will tell if Chitika will ever warrant the #1 paying spot on my automotive website.

When Will Adsense Catch Up

This post is not meant to bash Adsense, nor am I writing it because I’ve found a better alternative.  The point of this post is to illustrate how the advertising marketplace is changing and it appears to be adopting methods to fight ad blindness, yet Adsense ads have remained largely unchanged since day one.  I think that there is more money to be earned by publishers and advertisers if Google would decide to place images next to their text ads.

It Works

Not too terribly long ago it was a method used by Adsense publishers to place their own small images next to their Adsense text ads.  This greatly increased the CTR (click through ratio) in almost every single case.  However, because publishers were adding their own images, Google was unable to moderate the implied related content.

A few bad apples ruined it for the rest of us when they started placing questionable images next to their Adsense Ads.  Probably having a bigger impact was that publishers were placing unrelated images next to the Ads in question.  Then an unsuspecting visitor would click through on an add expecting something else and then immediately bounce out.  Obviously Google doesn’t want to piss off Advertisers by sending them unrelated traffic.

How To Fix The Problem

Google could implement their own program to allow Advertisers to upload their own authorized images to be displayed next to their ads.  This way Google could moderate what images were being used before approving the ad and know that these were not being changed by the publishers to drive unrelated traffic.

Who’s Doing It Before Google Adsense

Already there are a number of publishers that allow images to be uploaded and used along text advertisements.  The two that stand out the most are Chitika and Facebook Ads.  Both of these programs have already proved to be wildly successful for both their Advertisers and Publishers.

Facebook Ad w/ Image
Facebook Ad w/ Image

I’ve used them both and can attest that as an Advertiser I don’t mind spending a bigger budget with lower cost per clicks.  And if I’m controlling the images then I know that the traffic can be just as interested in buying what I’m selling.  I forsee Google making some changes, soon, to adjust to this change in the online advertising marketplace.

We have to fight ad blindness somehow.

3 Day Chitika Review

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I know I promised my results of using Chikita 3 days after my first impression post, but I’ve been struggling on my approach.  See, there is one side of me that is extremely disappointed and some what frustrated, but another side that sees how Chitika can work and does fill the niche that Chitika is aiming for.  So, as a disclaimer, let me stress the following.

“Chitika is not a replacement for Google Adsense, nor is Chitika trying to compete with Google Adsense.”

After listening to Chitika’s sales pitch I would have thought that I would be receiving comparable CPC’s on my automotive blog.  However, that was not the case and averaging out it looks to be less than half.  Taking it a step further, after the auditing process it potentially could be lowered again, which is where the frustration comes from.

In all of my sites I try to monetize in a way that does not affect readership.  I view my sites more often than anyone, so I attempt to make them as void of Ads and marketing as possible.  So, Chitika just doesn’t seem to be fitting in with my own business model.  I have trouble justifying ad placement when it earns me less than half of the cost of a stamp per click.  Higher CPC’s may be found in different niches, I’m only comparing Adsense CPC’s in the automotive category to that from Chitika.

Chitika Shines

The CTR is of course much higher than Adsense, which is to be expected since they use the tried and true ‘image-next-to-ad’ technique.  Google banned this method over a year ago because it created less than optimal traffic for the advertisers.  Essentially, you are tricking visitors into clicking on a link, nothing more, nothing less.

A higher CTR would be super awesome, if only it paid out decent.  Where it stands right now, I would need 5-6 times the amount of clicks just to equal one click from my Adsense Ads.  So why even bother taking up valuable real estate on my site and just annoying my visitors?

I’m struggling with the answer to that last question.  Be damned if I’m going to sacrifice my Adsense earnings.  That’s why Chitika focuses on alerting Publishers that Chitika can be used alongside Adsense ads.  It doesn’t make sense for me, because I’m getting clicks, why would I want to sacrifice half my clicks for a lower paying ad?  I wouldn’t.

Chitika Customer Service

I had the opportunity to talk with Ryan Travis, Director of Client Services at Chitika.  My initial phone call was a service issue, dealing with accurate impressions, but all was working well(I’ll save info for another post).  Ryan and I ended up talking about optimization, where Chitika see’s itself in the marketplace, and where they hope to go.  Ryan was quick to respond to emails, a pleasure to talk with, and part of the reason why I will continue to use Chitika at some level.

Who Should Use Chitika

The only people who should be using Chitika are those who receive a lot of traffic from search engines.  Of those people, the only ones who should be using Chitika are those who can’t get Google Adsense to convert.  Chitika Premium ads are only shown to search engine traffic, so those of you getting traffic from other sites need not apply.  And as mentioned above, don’t risk losing higher paying Adsense traffic to get a few more clicks on your Chitika ads.

Conclusion

I will continue to use Chitika in hopes they will increase their Automotive inventory of ads and eventually increase CPC’s.  Ryan feels that the online marketing industry as a hole is trending toward higher search traffic CPC’s, rather than content related marketing like Adsense for content.  I hope he’s right and I wish Chitika luck in their niche.  We need options in the market place as both a publisher and advertiser.

In the not to distant future I will be publishing some more results from my Chitika ads.  The Chitika ‘auditing’ process could prove to be a deal breaker, but I will reserve judgement.

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Chitika Review, First Impressions

Well, it’s been just around 24 hours since I began testing the Chitika Premium Ads on my automotive site.  Currently, my automotive blog is receiving around 3,200 page views per day, with the majority of traffic coming from Google search.  This should spell a winning combination, considering how Chitika Premium works.  Let’s look at my first impression, downsides first, then lets look at what’s coming UP.

Initial Downside

Slow reports, which require at least till 10:00 AM the next morning before clicks are computed.  New users must also wait up to 3 days before earning are reported, so other than clicks and impressions, no other figures are provided.  When compared to Google Adsense, this is a huge short coming, but not something that will send me packing.

The reports, even once they are updating every 24 hours, require a audit.  This means that you will not be paid your reported earnings, rather a audit, based on quality of traffic, that usually amounts to a 10% drop in what is indicated.  I’ve never had this with other PPC programs, only on CPA traffic, so this is throwing me for a loop.

Last downside is the review process to start even using Chitika ads.  They require a detailed application, which is reviewed by a human and can take up to 3 days to be completed.  Thankfully, my review took less than 4 hours, I’m wondering if that’s the norm.  But again, only in CPA programs have I ever had to set through a review process, when I’m ready to start using a new program, let me start on my terms!  Nothing to scare me off just yet though.

Initial Upside

So easy to generate code and the wizard is self explanatory for customizing size, colors, and ad-variations.  I was very pleased to hear that Chitika could be used next to Adsense, so without sacrificing too much web real estate to try a new program, I can test placements.  Which also brings up the fact of having an alternate ad shown, even on another network, when there is no search term found or unqualified traffic views the page.  I’m using a Google Adsense block of the same size, so earning comparisons should be spot on.

Great referral program!  That’s right, Chitika has a great referal program that will pay you 10% of whatever your referral earns for up to 15 months.  This is what you earn per publisher, but make up to $25 for every $100 spent for referring an Advertiser.  Easy to see why so many guru’s have the Chitika banners plastered all over their posts, coupled with long winded multiple part review posts. (hmmmm)

In 3 days I will happily give a report of my published earnings.  I’m hoping to at least compliment my Adsense placements without subtracting from their current earnings.  Right now I’m making some pretty impressive bank from tried and true Adsense, I will be a tough nut to crack.