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!

32 thoughts on “Chitika Premium Failuires With YPN”

  1. Hi,

    Yes I feel your pain, we experience the same issue. From a friendly support staff that almost begged us to come on-board they turned into unapproachable more or less arrogant and uninterested.

    Without any warning, or any guidelines they decided two of our network site we not fit to be in the “Chitika Premium” network. Our average impression count dropped from 5000+ a day to about 75 in a matter of one day.

    We are lucky to have never really expanded on Chitika so it’s only a minor percentage of our income. But the disrespect and contempt they display to their publishers is in stark contrast to what the company used to be like.

    I fully agree with the statement: Chitika Review, Stay AWAY and would add when you are in “try to get out” 🙂

  2. I just logged in and noticed my site is pending review as well. I’ve had Chitika with no problems for around 2 years. Now suddenly I’m not good enough. I didn’t even get a warning email, I had to log in before I noticed.

    What do they mean its related to impressions & click throughs? There is no guidelines anywhere to what is the exact number they’re after. What a joke 🙁

  3. Noticed they changed pending review to ‘Not Enough Data’. For a company that prided itself for it’s data analyzing and mining they sure apparently did get enough after 1 yr of running ads on my site.

    I can’t say I’m not going to give them a second chance, but I sure would like some sort of published explanation on why things went sour with so many publishers so fast.

  4. Speaking anonymously as part of Chitika’s team, what I can tell you is that the generic responses are being sent due to the sheer volume of complaints about this issue that we are receiving. We simply cannot afford to spend time writing individual responses to a recurring issue. What I can tell you here is that the review process is not something Chitika wanted to put our publishers through, but something our advertising partners demanded.

    We ARE working to get every last one of our publisher domains approved, but there are thousands of sites which have to go through this process (and this is a hand review process, not an automated system). If you’re running multiple domains, you may find that some are approved before others. In the meantime we are running Chitika Select on domains which have not yet been approved, but since Select ads don’t typically perform as well (though it’s not always the case) our system is more inclined to fall back to showing nothing at all. This is why you might be seeing 200 impressions and 1 click or something to that effect.

    I wish I could say more, but I’m probably not even supposed to be saying this much. I can tell you that no one in the company is pleased about what’s happening with our publishers, but our hands are tied. Hope this helps to answer a few questions.

    1. Thanks for this explanation. I think that even a “canned” explanation of what is going on at Chitika would quit a lot of confusion and anger among your publishers.

      You still have a lot of credit among many of your “partners”. Yet the word partner implies a two-way street, a partnership can only exist when there is some form of trust and mutual respect. Chitika’s actions over the last weeks make it hard to remain “trusted” in the marked place.

      I understand your difficulty when it comes to (re) approving all of the publishers domains, and most of us understand this can be a tedious labor intensive job. Question remains, WHY didn’t you tell us, WHAT new rules did your advertisers forced upon you, WHY did this happen overnight.

      Creating confusion, keeping silent as a grave when the whole world falls over you us a surefire way to stir up more anger and resentment and distrust. Covering up and saying an other party is to blame doesn’t make me feel better at all. It implies that Chitika is fully at mercy of a few advertisers who are strong enough to bend the company anyway they like, OR are at the brink of collapse.

      Just my two cents, I think the only way to keep partners together when things are not going as planned is to COMMUNICATE!!!

    2. @Chitika:

      It doesn’t add up though. I had two dozen sites approved before the 28th and now only one! All the others are ‘Not approved for Premium ads (not enough user data)’ but two of the were generating over 50,000 and 25,000 a month while the one approved generated 600plus……

      Actually had an idea that Chitika was going down the tubes when they pulled the forum to ‘upgrade and enhance it’ BS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      You pull the forum, change Linx to show search pages instead of advertisers (with no heads up!), and then this BS!

      As to your hands being tied……. BS to that too. You did not have the guts to even email the publishers about the change for days after it occurred!

  5. I started using Chitika a couple of weeks ago after being recruited by one of their people. He was quite familiar with my (popular, mainstream) site and made sure it was approved.

    Now I have the same “pending review” problem as everyone else, and my contact at Chitika seems as surprised as I was. He is trying to figure it out but I don’t have high hopes.

    Sorry, but it’s hard to believe this is “something our advertising partners demanded”. Do you only have one advertising partner, or did they all get together and impose this on you? And weren’t all of the domains hand-reviewed in the first place? And why is it pretty obvious if you try a few tests that we’re running far more ads than we’re getting credit for?

    I fear that this is actually a matter of “We didn’t have the money to pay publishers this month, so we tweaked a few things so we won’t owe as much.” If this is NOT the case, I’d love to see some openness from Chitika instead of the complete lack of acknowledgement of this issue.

    The top article on Chitika’s blog is “New UI Optimizer to kick CTR up a notch” and includes this great line:

    “Now, we’re excited to announce our entire network is getting the opportunity to see our research at work, making your site’s ad performance jump from a Porsche to a Lamborghini!”

    I’d love to hear from a publisher that ended up with a Lamborghini. My Porsche has turned into a 25-year old rusty Ford pickup that won’t start.

  6. I’m sure it all boils down to the bottom line.

    The problem is certainly not because they were paying publishers too much (per click, I got about 1/10th of what I get from AdSense), so it has to be because they were charging the advertisers too much. Greed.

    (And is it a coincidence? My AdSense revenue has gone up 25% since my Chitika ads disappeared.)

  7. Anony Mouse – We have many publishing partners, but as it is with any business some are larger than others. I actually miscommunicated in my first post by indicating that these new guidelines were from our current ad partners. They’re our guidelines.

    To understand the implications of this, you have to understand something about search marketing: whenever a user clicks a link, the advertiser who posts that link is charged. This is great for Chitika and great for publishers, but not so great for advertisers: simply having someone click on a link doesn’t guarantee that they’re going to convert on the advertiser’s site. Advertisers don’t like to pay when they get nothing in return.

    Chitika Premium is a search advertising service. When someone comes to your site from a search engine, Chitika Premium is used as a means of delivering highly targeted ads, which in turn have a higher cost-per-click for advertisers. Our Ad partners treat their advertisers like gold and will do whatever they can to please them (that’s their bread and butter). So, to help alleviate their advertisers concerns, these ad partners establish guidelines in hopes that their advertisers will get “quality traffic.”

    Our new guidelines are being established so that we can bring on more advertisers. More advertisers means more competition to display ads for keywords. More competition means higher CPCs. Higher CPCs mean more revenue: for publishers AND chitika.

    Regarding the UI optimizer and that specific line you quoted, take those with a grain of salt. We are, at the end of the day, a company, and a company doesn’t make many sales with bad press. The statements are more about letting publishers know we’re not just sitting with our thumbs up our rear-ends.

    The UI optimizer is legit, however. Basically, we’re testing different formats for ads in hopes of finding the best performing format. IE, if between five test formats one shows a 50% increase in CTR (1.5% to 2.25%), we’re going to start showing that format more often. We’ve had a great deal of success with it in custom implementations and we’re rolling it out to the standard implementations as well.

    @Gina – The difference between your revenue from Google and Chitika has a lot to do with CPC. Google is a direct advertiser, meaning that they service both individual advertisers (which Chitika outsources to Ad partners like superpages) and publishers. Given that they have over 60% of the market share, they have more advertisers competing for position. Again, more competition means more revenue for advertisers and ads.

    That’s not to say that Chitika is worse than Google. Chitika markets to a different subsect of users. People who are not necessarily inclined to click a Google ad may be more inclined to click a Chitika ad. The trick, and what much of our service is, is identifying these users and displaying targetted ads for them. Chitika sees 15% of the internet at any given time (well, maybe a bit less since the 28th…), so we’ve got a lot of user data to work with towards this goal. Is it a perfect system? Of course not. That may be why your adsense revenue rose 25% since your Chitika ads stopped working; there is bound to be some of what we call “cannibalization,” but Chitika’s goal is to optimize your revenue from all your ads. So the question, then, is: was that 25% more than chitika was generating?

    If it wasn’t, we, at Chitika, don’t want our ad showing, at least not where it is. Maybe we can find another placement on your page which will reduce the cannibalization effect and generate enough revenue to overtake it, but what we DON’T want is to replace your google ads. We would be fools if we tried to replace Google, because we just can’t generate as much revenue for you.

    Hence: our goal with these new guidelines is to bring new advertisers onboard to increase competition, and thus CPC, and thus your revenue from chitika. Maybe, if we’re successful (and we’re off to a great start, as I’m sure you would all agree [/sarcasm]), then someday we might be able to outperform google. But that day is not today.

    @LTD Investments – We did send an email. I can’t vouch to its contents or how direct it was (I’m a tech, not an account manager), but an email was sent to publishers. I’ve heard another message will be going out soon, but I can’t verify that.

    @Wayne John – Greece’s economy collapses. Wait, that already happened? Shoot.

    The good news is that we ARE doing a hell of a lot in attempt to improve the performance of Chitika Select ads, which is what that new (not enough user data) business is about. I can’t talk about it until it goes public, but we are trying to get our publishers up and running as fast as possible by whatever means possible.

  8. @ Chitika:

    Are you at liberty to say whether the massive un-approval on 04/28 was an automatic process based on a certain criteria, a manual review (unlikely due to sheer amount) or you simply dropped *ALL* and then went back and re-enabled *some* just to keep publishers “warm”. I guess, what I’m trying to find out is whether the massive drop-out is complete and from now on you can be only approving sites or we can see more sites un-approved later?

    As many pointed out in these comments and elsewhere on the Net, the approval pattern makes no sense whatsoever. I have a dozen or so of very similar sites; most got axed but three or four remained.

    Can you guys publish some guidelines your approved sites should now adhere to? By doing so you will ease your approval process by giving webmasters that still want to stay with you a chance to make necessary changes.

    I don’t know if you’ve realized that already but since early May 2010 you guys are what BP is to the oil industry after the Gulf oil spill. You are in DESPERATE need for some positive PR. I think that by wholeheartedly throwing 100% of your allegiance toward where the *money* is coming from you’ve forgotten about where the labor (clicks in this industry) comes from – a mistake many businesses make at their peril. You absolutely do have to defend your publishers – they are the actual basis of your business. If we all left, what are you going to do: broker AdWords to Superpages?

    Oh, and since I also play the other side of the biz: I think I can speak for all advertisers as well: advertisers don’t like to pay. Period. Has nothing to do with conversions. Ultimately, advertisers are not going to like anything lower than 100% conversion rate and you’ll have to find a way to resists their unreasonable requests.

    Been with you guys for a couple of years now, would love to stay unless of course, you un-approve all my sites. Then I’ll go.

    Cheers!

  9. @Chitika

    After reading your comments here I come to the following conclusions:

    1. You state that it’s not possible to earn more with Chitika than with AdSense. This would mean for 80% of all website owners who try to earn money with ppc advertising networks that they have to wait 200 years for their first check instead of the approximately 150 years. (Yes, this is sarcasm)

    2. Calling your manager an idiot would be a insult to all other people one calls an idiot. I worked with many of those kind of managers in the past and I have seen healthy businesses disappear because this people thought to understand what is needed on both sites of the fence.
    I just can beg you to advise your ‘manager’ that he subscribes to Seth Godin’s blog or even better (if Chitika has some money left) HIRE him.

  10. Whatever the reasons may be to me this behavior makes no sense at all. I can only come up with two explanations, either they feel very secure because a third party stepped in to take over operations or they are in panic and out of money.

    Which business in their right frame of mind would willingly sacrifice a large part of their current “workers” (i.e. publishers) and even worse to destroy much of it’s future income stream by positioning themselves as an “uncaring, unreliable, opportunistic” organization. It’s crazy to try to deliver the best advertiser experience as possible when you destroy the platform on which you will deliver that product.

    A possible scenario could be that at the top of all this misery a third party will emerge as the savior. Taking over Chitika and either make peace with the current publishers or bring in it’s own sales-force. Could it be the “Y” word??

    Or are we looking at plain irrational behavior?

    This story begins to read like a spy novel, so I’m getting anxious to get to the plot 🙂

  11. Mario!
    Wayne!
    It seems we are all trying to stay on top of this situation and not giving up at least.
    I do appreciate the Anony Mouse comments.
    They have told us more than anyone else has I believe.

  12. I saw an interesting statement at the bottom of the Pending Review FAQ:

    “Again, we appreciate your patience during this time and contend that once the approval process has completed, you should see noticeably better earnings than you did before. ”

    I’m wondering if that means an increase in earnings from now, which is $0, or an increase in earnings from the way it was before this entire debacle?

    ————

    Also, this is not cfern, just to be clear. I noticed this post was linked over on the Chitika blog.

  13. @ Chitika:

    An email 2 days after the fact and just a BS response. The approval process was started back on 3/25 and not a single one of mine are approved or disapproved. Then 1 month after that all but ONE stops getting impressions counted but were displaying ads then after a week and a ton of support (actually nonsupport) back and forth I now have ONE site that displays less than 50 times a day but two that aveaged 1,000-2,000 a day have not enough data.

    I’m sorry but your explanations are what they are BS! If the not enough data is for the new Select ads then why in H%^&*( are they not displaying premium ads but are displaying Select ads and getting next to NADA!

    As a programmer I know more than most and it does not add up! Your explanations do not fit what is happening.

  14. If all the problems are with the requirements of some “new advertisers” and everything worked at a decent level with the “old advertisers”, why not simply NOT serve any of the new advertisers ads to domains that have yet to be approved.

    In other words change nothing, except serving the new advertisers ads to domains as they get approved.

    If you still don’t get my point, a more specific example:

    example.com has been active and successful with Chitika for a year or two. YPN doesn’t approve of example.com. Don’t shut off example.com, instead keep serving whatever ads example.com was getting for the past two years and don’t serve any YPN ads there.

    Or, has some how all the advertisers been replaced by YPN?

  15. @todd that’s crazy if true. I really hope they haven’t taken to siphoning traffic, surely this would have been brought up sooner had it been going on since February.

  16. @todd Looks like you’re right…wow, that company has problems… By the looks of it we have a major translation error on our hands, when Chitika is talking about their “New Advertisers” they actually are saying “The New Advertisers We Don’t Have”.

    The whole thing implies they must be real low on funds, and must try to earn a buck by displaying their own adds linking to a page carrying….Adsense.. Unbelievable, yet as far as I can see reality!

  17. As someone whose sites have been approved for the Premium ads I would like to warn people who believe their sites not being approved is the problem. While my impressions are back up I have received next to NO CLICKS when my CTR used to be around 3% and the day I did get clicks I got three and the booty from my 3 big clicks: 3 freakin’ cents 🙁

  18. “Again, we appreciate your patience during this time and contend that once the approval process has completed, you should see noticeably better earnings than you did before.”

    Well, they were right about that. My domains are now approved and my earnings have skyrocketed from jack/sh*t to diddly/squat! Jolly.

    Just wondering: who all here had all their domains suddenly approved on May 20?

  19. @Boomstick:

    not a single domain has been approved here since *March 20th, 2010* (not May, March) ! Also, I hope you don’t mean “Approved Silver”. I’ve been told by my Chitika rep that “Approved Silver” is exactly the same as the “Unapproved for Premium” we used to see before – just an automatic substitution.

    Also interesting: although number of approved domains (and overall site traffic) has not dropped here, the number of impressions as well as earnings continue to slide down. I think Chitika still bleeds advertisers, despite the (supposedly) more stringent quality guidelines.

  20. @Scriptster:
    No, dude, I mean MAY. As in, “Thu 5/20/2010 2:16 PM.” It looks like there was a mass approval that day. And my tkt for the ads still not showing is assigned to “Department: NOT Yahoo! Approved.” And yeah, my impressions and revenue have both gone through the floor.

    O joy. O bliss.

  21. Interesting, you put a helpdesk ticket in? I haven’t done that, maybe I should have. What did you say in there that made them look at the sites?

    [quote]And yeah, my impressions and revenue have both gone through the floor.[/quote] You mean, the roof? 😉

  22. And back comes the ticket today…

    Hi Dennis,

    Please accept my deepest apologies for the delay in responding to you here!

    This is not an error, this is unfortunately how Silver-level ads are going to work. The Silver ad program has a smaller advertiser-base, so the ads will appear less often than they would with Gold. Basically, there is a smaller number of queries that are supported, based on how many of these match the ones coming into your site via search traffic, will depend on how often the ads will display. With this, you will see a decrease in our ad display and impressions.

    So the testing with the preview tool you are doing, is not returning an ad because we cannot don’t have inventory for it. Again, this is due to the limited advertiser-base with Silver.

    We realize this is not yet a great solution for you, but it’s what we have while most domains in the Chitika network are awaiting review for Gold (Premium ads).

  23. I signed up months ago, i can’t even remember when, and got a ‘positive’ reply … 5 days ago: ‘Thank you for your application for Chitika Ads. We deeply apologize for the long wait in review of your Chitika account’.

    The day after, i put Chitika Ads exactly on the same pages as those displaying Google Ads. For the period 21-23 August, Google Adsense reports 7,459 page impressions.

    Knowing from google Analytics that 15% of my visitors in that period originated from countries covered by Chitika (US/CA/GB/DE/IT/ES/NL/DK/NO/SE), the latter should logically report a rough 1,120 impressions. It actually reports 773 impressions only.

    I conclude that Chitika ‘ommitted’ to count half of the qualifying traffic and i will remove their stuff straight away !

  24. @Jean Valjean:
    I think you are over-reacting. There may be a number of reasons why the counts are different (and if you used a third system, you’ll get a different result still) but the difference of 30%, as big as it may sound, is not so terrible to justify drastic action. In some cases there may simply be no ads for the keywords that send traffic or the user has chitika.com domain disabled in their ‘hosts’ file or, again, any number of very legitimate reasons.

    I think a better question would be: were you satisfied with the performance of the 773 imps that Chitika does show?

  25. @Scriptster,

    Over-reacting ? I’m not sure the word ‘performance’ is appropriate: 0.07$ revenue on 773 imps = not worth bothering my visitors for peanuts (compared to AdSense).

  26. All my websites are not on Chitika Silver, and onnly one got Gold.
    Every time Chitika ads shown, all of them are from Amazon and not related to search query at all, and my earnings with AdBrite 5 times higher now.
    I left Chitika code on several places for now, just to keep eye on them and in a hope they will be back one day to normal program as they used to be before.

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