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My Thoughts on Chitika Advertising Network

A blog post by Paul SalmonPaul Salmon Avatar

Over the past two months I have been testing out Chitika advertisements on Technically Easy. Unless you arrived from search engines you may have never seen these ads displayed on my blog. Similar to Google’s AdSense, Chitika pays you each time a visitor clicks an ad that they display.

While I had some high hopes for Chitika, I can’t say that I am impressed with the results of displaying their ads. In this post I will discuss my findings and thoughts about this ad network.


What is Chitika?

Chitika Logo

Chitika (pronounced CHIH-tih-ka) was founded in 2003 by Venkat Kolluri and Alden DoRosario. It is a full-service advertising network that serves over 2 billion monthly impressions on 30,000 web sites.

Much like Google’s AdSense, you install the code on your web pages and it will display targeted ads to your visitors. The difference between this ad network and others is that Chitika only displays ads to search engine visitors.

They offer 26 different ad sizes that you can use on your web site or blog. This means that they appear to have the sizes most people would want to display. Not only that, but each ad unit is completely customizable by simply changing the Javascript that you insert into your pages.

While it may seem that Chitika is a great way to make money for your web site or blog, there are some things that I found out during my two months of using the network.

The Good

When I first signed up with Chitika I immediately had a look at how to display their ads on my blog. I was impressed with the number of different ad sizes that they support. Their two newest additions are called “MEGA-Units”. They are 550 and 500 pixels in width and 250 pixels in height. They can pretty much take over a large portion of the content section of a web page.

They claimed that these ad sizes perform well, so I decided to try the largest one out. I inserted the code at the bottom of each post. I didn’t put it at the top since that is where my AdSense is located, and I didn’t want too many ads at the top of each post.

The one aspect of the ads that I like is that they only display when a visitor comes from a search engine. This means that for those visiting the page directly, they won’t see the ads. I tested this out by clicking on a page from Technically Easy in Google, and sure enough the ads appeared. They also have a test parameter that you can use to display the ads just by refreshing the page, as well.

One thing I do like was how easy it was to customize the code. You don’t need to login to Chitika to modify your ad unit, you simply change the parameters in the Javascript and your ad unit will reflect the changes. There are many options that can be set, and they are too numerous to mention here. I couldn’t find a complete listing of the options, but Chitika talks about them in their help section.

If you are currently using AdSense, you can also use Chitika on the same pages without any issues. This means that you can mix the ads on you site without any repercussions from Google.

The Bad

While all the above may sound good, there are a few issues and complaints I have about the system.

First, after viewing my earnings for a few weeks I realized something: the amount my ads generated per click was low. I mean really low. For a comparison, the ads from Chitika earned me only 20% of what I earned from Google’s AdSense per ad click.

My click-through-rate was extremely low as well. There were days I wouldn’t even receive a single click, even though I had over 800 impressions. While I do realize that the ads weren’t located in a prime spot, I figured I would at least receive a few clicks. It wasn’t until I saw some ads where I realized another problem. The targeted ads, weren’t always targeted.

For example, I searched for “static pages in blogger” in Google, and then selected one of my posts. The following two ad screenshots show Google’s AdSense ads and Chitika ads that were retrieved from that same post at the exact same time:

Google Ads - "Static Pages in Blogger" Search

Chitika Ads - "Static Pages in Blogger" Search

As you can see the AdSense ads are more targeted than the Chitika ads. Visitors to my site looking for information about static pages in Blogger, aren’t going to click ads about static dryer sheets. While I realize that Google has a much larger inventory of ads to choose from, Chitika ads aren’t even close.

Chitika also has what they call “unaudited” and “audited” amounts. Unaudited revenue is displayed in your daily report and represents the raw traffic numbers. This isn’t the money that you will be paid. The audited revenue, after removing fraudulent clicks, is computed and displayed in monthly reports, and is what you have actually earned.

For the months of June and July, I had finally passed the $10 threshold for payment, only to realize that the $10 represented my unaudited revenue. By the time it computed my audited revenue, I actually only earned about $4. That means 60% of my earnings was actually fraudulent. With the power of servers and computers today, you’d figure that they can compute the audited revenue on a daily basis.

While I have earned some revenue from Chitika, it isn’t enough to be paid. I’m debating about whether to drop the ad network, or wait until I reach the payout amount.

My Overall Impression.

I think Chitika has promise, however, it still has a long way to go before I will use the service long term. While it isn’t directly competing with Google’s AdSense, mainly since you can use both services together, it will be a hard sell to get people to display Chitika ads in prime locations reserved for AdSense.

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