A Guide to Getting increasing your income from Chitika’s eMiniMall Advertising program.
Since my initial Chitika eMinimalls review and revelation of earnings from Chitika’s eMiniMalls my inbox has been full of questions on how to use eMiniMalls effectively. As a result I thought I’d write a guide to using Chitika eMiniMalls to refer people to. I hope this is helpful. Feel free to add your own tips in comments below.
Chitika eMiniMall Sign up Process
Signing Up for Chitika eMiniMalls is pretty easy to do. Simply visit their sign up page and fill in your details. Keep in mind their terms and conditions of being a publisher which exclude certain types of sites. When you send in your application you will normally hear back from Chitika with a response within 24 hours (time seems to depend upon what time you apply and whether it is business hours in their part of the US.
Keep in mind that in signing up you are being bound to their terms and conditions that include non-disclosure of some of your earnings information (eg CTR, click values etc). Also note that at this point of their beta test they are only accepting sites written in English.
Lastly keep in mind that if your site’s readership is mainly from Asian countries that unfortunately due to a lack of Asian merchants and low conversions Chitika does not pay out for all Asian countries and the ‘auditing’ process could decrease your earnings considerably.
What sites are Chitika eMiniMalls Best on?
In my experience so far with Chitika (and from interacting with many others who are testing it) I’ve found that it seems to work best on sites that are focused upon products. Many gadget sites have signed up for eMiniMalls already but by no means are their ads limited to consumer electronics. I’ve seen relevant ads served up on a variety of sites including some focussing upon clothes, baby strollers, washing machines, jewellery and other fashion items. From what I can see – they seem to have a large supply of ads for most of the products you’ll find on sites like Amazon and Shopping.com (which is thousands of products).
Product related sites are not the only ones reporting good returns from eMiniMalls though – I know of a variety of personal and general topic blogs and sites that are reporting better than normal earnings with eMiniMalls in comparison to other ad networks that they use.
Using Chitika eMiniMalls With Adsense
Many of the questions I’ve received about eMiniMalls related to whether they can be used on the same page as Google Adsense ads. As I wrote in my review – this was initially of major concern a number of us when we first came across eMiniMalls. As a result, one of my colleagues wrote an email to Adsense for clarification. The response was that it was allowable from the perspective of Adsense to use Chitika eMiniMalls on the same page as Adsense in the following circumstances (I’m told by a YPN publisher that this is also true with YPN):
1. eMiniMalls must be made to be NON-contexual
2. eMiniMalls must have their ‘search tab’ disabled IF you choose to use the Adsense Search option (update: I’ve since heard from a number of Chitika eMiniMall publishers who say that they’ve recieved confirmation from Adsense that they ARE ALLOWED to use the search tab in eMiniMalls).
This was great news as it added another revenue stream to the sites of many without compromising another important source of income like Adsense.
NB: Chitika has another ad system, called RealContext, that is NOT allowed to be used in conjunction with Adsense – don’t get them mixed up.
It is worth noting that different webmasters and bloggers have seen difference results from using Adsense and Chitika’s eMiniMalls on the one page. These results have included:
- Some bloggers have reported small decreases in their Adsense earnings. This is my experience – I’ve noticed a 5-10% decrease in my overall Adsense earnings since adding eMiniMalls. Of course this is considerably less than the overall increase in earnings that the eMiniMalls have brought me so I’m willing to take this hit knowing that overall I am in a considerably better financial position.
- A smaller number of bloggers have noticed increases in their Adsense earnings when they replaced one of multiple Adsense Ad units with a eMiniMall unit. This sounds crazy – bit it makes sense when you realise that sometimes less Adsense Ad units on a page can result in increase click values for some ads (thats another topic for another day)
- Some have found eMiniMalls to be so well suited to their site’s that they’ve removed Adsense altogether and are just running the Chitika ads (I wouldn’t recommend doing this straight away without testing things first).
How to Run Adsense and Chitika eMiniMalls on the same page
So how does one ‘make eMiniMalls non contextual’ and thereby able to be run on the same page as Adsense?
Chitika have just made this extremely easy – in fact they’ve made it so easy you don’t have to do anything different at all because today they’ve just changed the default of their ads to be ‘non contextual’. So when you log in and click the ‘Get eMiniMalls Code’ link and design your ads they’ll supply you with the code that makes using eMiniMalls work with Adsense without you having to mess around with adding code.
The all important code in what they give you is:
ch_non_contextual = 1;
If you’ve previously inserted code into your site it might be worth checking its in it or else your ads will be contextual.
Targeting Keywords – Rotation
So the question many will now no doubt ask is ‘if the ads are non contexual – what determines what ads will now be served?’
Good question. If you look at the code that Chitika give you you’ll notice another new line of code that comes to you by default like this:
var ch_queries = new Array(“digital cameras”, “ipod mini”, “sony playstation”, “dell laptop”);
This is the line of code that tells Chitika what ads to serve your site. If you leave it as is it will rotate four types of ads through your pages – ads for ‘digital cameras’, ‘ipod minis’, ‘sony playstations’ and ‘dell laptops’. The beauty of eMiniMalls is that while these ads might pay ok per click – they are not likely to be highly relevant ads to the topic of everyone’s site – so you’re able to change them. Simply remove the words between the “and” marks and insert relevant words to your site. If your site is about MP3 players try “MP3 Player”, “ipod mini”, “ipod photo”, “iriver” etc. You can insert as many keywords as you like. This will help to keep your site looking fresh and hopefully stop your regular readers becoming blind to your ads.
For example, on my cameras site, I have changed the list to be:
var ch_queries = new Array(‘Canon Powershot S2 IS’, ‘Canon Digital Rebel XT’, ‘Canon Powershot A520′, ‘Canon PowerShot A510′, ‘PowerShot SD400 Digital Camera’);
You might also like to periodically change the ads you rotate to help with ad blindness. I know of a couple of sites who are changing the keywords that they target once per week to keep things fresh.
Targeting One Keyword
If you just want to target ONE keyword do so by:
1. deleting this bit of the code:
var ch_queries = new Array(’phrase1′, ‘phrase2′, ‘phrase3′);
var ch_selected = Math.floor((Math.random() * ch_queries.length));
ch_query = ch_queries[ch_selected];
2. replacing it with:
ch_query = ‘ipod mini’;
Targeting Titles as keywords:
One of the things that I’ve done on many of my sites is pick keywords that are pretty specific. ie instead of just adding “digital camera” you can add “canon eos 20d” and get ads for a specific digital camera. This is particularly useful on a page about a specific digital camera as it will increase your click through rate quite a bit.
One way of targeting specific words is to target the titles of your pages (if you use titles that include the keywords of your pages that is). How you do this will of course depend upon the system that you use to make your site or blog – but if you’re using Movable Type or WordPress you’ll find that both of these systems have title tags that will trigger the title for a particular post.
For example on a MT blog they line of code targeting keywords would look like:
ch_query = ‘<$MTEntryTitle$>‘;
In WordPress to target the title you’d use this…
ch_query = ‘<?php the_title(); ?>’;
If you use another blog platform please feel free to let us know what the code would be in comments below.
Keep in mind that this will only be effective if you use titles on your site that are pretty specific to products. If you don’t you might want to consider specifying some keywords as you might end up with empty ads or very irrelevant ones.
Other Chitika eMiniMall Code to keep in mind
Disable Search Tab - There are a variety of other pieces of code that you can include in your eMiniMalls code to change the functionality of your ads. These include:
If you want to disable the search tab (and remember if you use the Adsense search function you need to) – simple add the following line of code to the middle of the code that Chitika give you:
ch_nosearch = 1;
Make ‘Best Deals’ Tab the default - Some site owners prefer to have the ‘Best Deals’ tab showing first to readers rather than the default one. To do this simple add the following code:
ch_default_tab = ‘Best Deals’;
Rotate Random Ads – I’m not sure why anyone would use this one but if you want completely random ads use the following code. Before you do remember that this will mean you get ads that have no relevancy to your site’s content which is likely to decrease your click through rate and earnings significantly.
ch_non_contextual = 1;
ch_query = “”;
Change Fonts – Cosa in comments below suggests that you can change the font of ads like this:
ch_font_text = “Arial”;
ch_font_text = “Arial Narrow,Verdana”;
Positioning Your Chitika eMiniMalls
One of the most powerful ways to increase your Chitika eMiniMall earnings is to think carefully about where you will position them. A principle of any effective advertising is to make sure the ads are seen by potential viewers. Unfortunately many site owners ignore this basic principle and place ads in positions that go unseen. Here are some good basic tips on Ad Positioning that you might want to consider. They are applicable not only to Chitika’s eMiniMalls but to other systems like Adsense:
Above the Fold – A good general rule to keep in mind is that ads that appear above the fold (or in the top half of your page where readers will see it as soon as a web page loads) perform better than ads that appear below the fold. Studies show us that many web users don’t scroll when they hit a new page – so if the ad is unsighted immediately you decrease it’s chance of being seen and therefor clicked.
In or Near Content – I find that the most effective position for most ads is actually inside or very close to the main content of your page. If the middle section of your page is where an article or posts is – the best spot (in terms of conversion ) to put an advertisement is in the middle section. Of course this may compromise your design or clutter your site – depending up the goals of your site you may not wish to do this – however in general the closer you have the eMiniMalls to where your readers eyes will be (content) the more chance they have of seeing and responding to them. A great way to get eMiniMalls inside posts is to use one of the plugins that are appearing for blog platforms (see section below).
Left Hand Side – Studies show us that on most sites that the top left corder is HOT. It is where readers eyes will naturally wander to when they arrive at your page and as a result ads tend to do well there.
End of Articles – Many bloggers find that the position at the end of a post and above comments is a great conversion place for ads. This is because at the end of a post readers are looking to click something and move onto another page that might interest them. If you have a relevant ad there you increase the chances of a click through.
Multiple Ads – One of the great things about eMiniMalls is that there are no restrictions on how many ad units you can place on a site. I would strongly advise that you do not place too many on a page – but that you consider at least two and maybe even three depending upon the design and length of your pages.
One strategy that I’m seeing many site owners take up is to place three ads per page in the following way:
Ad 1 – this is a 468 x 60 pixel ad unit that appears at the top of articles (either just above or just below the article title). This ad would be targeted upon the title as it’s keyword
Ad 2 – this ad is often a 468 x 180 pixel ad unit that appears at the bottom of an article – just above comments. Depending upon the length of your average article – this post could also be targeting the post’s title – or if you want more variety it could target and rotate some more generic product keywords that your site is about.
Ad 3 – this ad is often one of the narrow and often small ads (maybe a 160 x 160 or a 120 x 600 depending upon available space) and appears in a side bar. These ads are usually targeting and rotating keywords that are relevant to the overall site’s theme.
For more on Ad positioning you might like to read a short series of posts that I’ve previously written on the topic of Adsense Ad Positioning that mentions some of these principles.
Designing your eMiniMalls
In a similar way to how positioning your ads can impact their performance – I’ve found that the design of ads can have a major impact upon the rate that people click on them and would advise considering blending your ads into the design of your site. I’ve found by using other ad systems that ads that blend tend to do better than ads that stand out.
Chitika does not give you as many options as Adsense in this regard yet (the main difference is an inability to change the background colour of your ads – I’m told that this will be changed shortly and more adaptable background design will be an added feature soon) – but there are three ways that they give you to adapt the look of your ads.
- Borders – if you have a site with a white background I would highly recommend that you make the borders of your ads white also. This gets rid of a visual barrier between your ads and your content. This is widely accepted as one of the most powerful strategies for Adsense optimisation and I suspect it works well with eMiniMalls also.
- Title – the title of an eMiniMall ad is also a live link and therefore I would recommend that you choose a color that is the same as that of the majority of the links on your site. In this way you blend your ad into your page and make it clear that it is indeed a link.
- Text – this is the color of the description of the products in the ad. Once again I’d recommend choosing a color that is similar to other text on your site. Some Adsense ‘experts’ also recommend making text in ads a slightly lighter color than the text on the rest of your site so as to allow the ‘title’ to stand out more. It’s worth experimenting with this and seeing how it looks on your site.
Tracking your Chitika eMinimall Results
As with all potential income streams on your site it is very important that you track your result. This enables you to see what is working and not working and make changes accordingly.
Unfortunately Chitika are yet to roll out channels on eMiniMalls. I’m told that they are not far away and I personally am really looking forward to it as they will enable us to track how an individual ad unit is going. This will give you an idea of what ad positioning and design works best as well as giving you an idea of what keywords pay best. You will be able to name each channel whatever you choose.
The channel system is already running (its just their reports that are yet to go live) and I’d recommend adding the channel code to your ads now so that when their reporting system goes live you’ll already have some data to analyse. All you have to do is to add the following line of code to your ad unit code on your site. The ‘xxx’ is where you put a name of your channel. ie I might call a channel on this blog ‘problogger left side bar’ to help me track how an ad on left sidebar might work.
ch_sid = ‘xxxx’;
Choosing keywords to target
One of the key elements to effective use of Chitika eMiniMalls is getting ads showing on your site that have a high relevancy to your content. If you’re using Adsense you will of course not be using contextual ads so this becomes a challenge. One way of doing this is to use your titles to trigger keywords – however if you’re running multiple ads on a site you won’t want them all to do this as you’ll end up with multiple versions of the same ad. As a result some of your ad units will need to have keywords inserted into them (as outlined above). How do you decide what keywords to target in order to get a good supply of ads but also higher paying ones.
The simplest way to do this is to do some research in some of the advertisers using the minimalls system. For example Amazon.com and Shopping.com have ads that show up in eMiniMalls. I’ve found that most times if I do a search for a product in those systems and find a corresponding product that if I plug in the name of that product as it appears on their sites that it will come up in the minimalls on my blogs.
I’ve also heard a number of bloggers say that if you search the ‘best selling buys’ in the different categories of these online stores that you will find higher paying ads. I’m not sure if this is the case – but there is some sense in this. In any case with the coming of channels we’ll soon know what type of keywords trigger what level of click values.
For example, on my digital cameras site, I visit the digital cameras section of shopping.com, and put this query into the list: “Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-H1 Digital Camera”
PlugIns and Tools for Chitika eMiniMalls
A number of eMiniMall users have developed tools that can be used by chitika publishers that might be helpful. These include (I have not tested these extensively so do not endorse them specifically but share them because they may be useful to you):
WordPress Plugin – This plug in allows you to add eMiniMalls to your posts in Word Press
WordPress Plugin – This plug in uses the custom fields features of WP to insert eMiniMalls
WordPress Plug in – This is like the first one but by another developer
Chitika eMiniMalls on Movable Type – MT plugins that can help MT users.
If you know of other eMiniMall plugins and tools please let us know in comments below.
Add your Chitika eMiniMalls Tips
This post is a work in progress and is from my own experience of using eMiniMalls. Every day that I use them I learn something new so will add to this page over time and will add some of the more helpful tips that readers leave in comments below – so share your knowledge so we can all improve our eMiniMall earnings.
Disclaimer: the links to Chitika eMiniMalls in this post are affiliate links – if you sign up using these links I earn a small amount as a commission. It does not impact what you earn from Chitika but rather is paid by Chitika. While these links are affiliate links I genuinely believe in the product and have pointed out both its benefits and weaknesses.