Close
Close

Chitika Audit Issues

Wow – I woke up this morning to an inbox full of emails with the word ‘Chitika’ in the subject line. Most of them from publishers concerned with yesterday’s audit where their earnings were reduced – in some cases significantly.

Jensense and Performancing both write critiques of the process and discussion forums are alive with Chitika publishers talking about the vast variation in reductions in the audit. These range from what I can see from 8% reductions up to a reported 70% from what I can see.

Chitika explains the auditing process on their support area with the statement:

‘Every month Chitika audits the clicks that we receive from all of our publishers sites. In the audit process we remove any invalid clicks such as: repeated clicks from the same ip, clicks from countries such as China and India, etc. This is done to protect our advertisers from fraudulent clicks.’

I had a chat with someone in Chitika management this morning about yesterday’s audit and it seems that the reason why publishers with the largest reductions were audited so heavily was primarily for reasons of traffic from non accepted countries.

This fits with my own anecdotal evidence as I’ve interacted with a few publishers in the last 24 hours who when I’ve asked them about the source of their traffic have told me that they get similar percentages of traffic from Asian countries.

My own reduction in this latest audit was around 13% in my own direct earnings and around 40% of my referral earnings. This makes sense to me as most of my traffic on the sites I have featuring eMiniMalls is US, Australian and European but I know ProBlogger (which is where most of my referrals come from) has a higher Asian readership.

So – the question of what to do about Chitika is one many people are asking me:

Here are some thoughts that come to mind:

1. Firstly keep working on your optimization of your eMiniMall ads – I continue to see publishers using all the default settings which would be limiting performance. I’ve written about optimization techniques here and here.

2. The advice I was given by the Chitika rep this morning was to make the most of the new alternate ads feature that was announced yesterday. The whole reason for this feature is that if you have traffic from a non accepted country your ad space will be redirected to a more effective ad. For example I know one Chitika publisher with a lot of Asian traffic that is setting up his Chitika ads to show ads from Amazon Japan as an alternate ad. Smart move.

3. While I see a lot of people saying they’re going to leave Chitika I’d be careful about over reacting. Yes it may be valid to leave completely – but I’d be much more inclined to keep it running in conjunction with other ad systems and keep experimenting with ad positioning and optimization. If you’re getting audited right down to nothing then it might be time to move on – however even with large audits you’re still earning something from it and I guess then comes the decision about what else you could be running in those positions and if they’ll perform any better. If you can find something else to work better for you in certain positions I’d go with those options – but you might also want to consider putting Chitika in other spots.

Here’s a tip for Chitika. I think it would be a wise move to have a faster auditing system. By faster I’d suggest to work hard at building it into the daily statistics so that publishers are not presented with one figure only to have it reduced a month later. This is what Google does with their stats – they have smart pricing procedure that seeks to protect advertisers that none of us ever know the results of. Of course they have vast resources to throw at such a system that a start up like Chitika does not have – but it’s something that I hope Chitika will move towards.

Lastly I’d like to echo the thoughts of Andy at performancing who finishes with his post with a balanced and perceptive paragraph:

‘Getting an ad network up and running (with sustainable growth) is a monumental task, and it doesn’t surprise me that eMiniMalls is having issues. Even with these issues, they’ve come a lot farther than any other recent second tier ad network, and for that, I commend them. My question is, will they do what they need to do to work these things out and become a major player?’

I think Andy’s wise here. I suspect that getting any ad network up and running is a real juggling act of getting the formulae right between advertisers and publishers. Hopefully every time an issue raises it’s head they are one step closer to a solution that all can benefit from.

Update: I’d be interested to hear what people’s audits were like. Don’t mention specific numbers – but what kind of a decrease did you see? While there is talk around of publishers losing 90% I wonder what the average is. The big decreases get all the press and attention but what about average Joe chitika publisher?

I’ll start us off. My decreased earnings were 13%, a couple of percent more than the last two months. What was yours?

update 2: Chitika have just started paying October’s earnings to publishers via paypal (and cheque if you earn above the $10,000 paypal limit). Publishers earning above $600 for the month are being to fill in a W9 or W8 form for the US IRS and to fax it back to Chitika).

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, Google+ and LinkedIn.

Problogger.net runs on the Genesis Framework

Genesis Framework

The Genesis Framework empowers you to quickly and easily build incredible websites with WordPress. Genesis provides the secure and search-engine-optimized foundation that takes WordPress to places you never thought it could go.

Check out the incredible features and the selection of designs. It's that simple - start using Genesis now!

Comments

  1. Darren Rowse says:

    spud: I know about opportunity cost – but don’t know what other ads I could put in place that could be paying me more. If you know of an ad system that would pay me more I’d be interested to hear it. No ad system has ever paid me as much as Chitika – that is my experience of their program… I’m not leaving them.

    I understand my experience is not the same as everyone’s but there seem to be quite a few people who like them still.

  2. sudhar says:

    I too have many doubts about chitika eminimalls so i did use chitika ads on my weblog Cheap laptop computers. Some of your posts have cleared many doubts.

  3. Stephen says:

    Jerry

    You are absolutely wrong. Neither Chitika nor Google are paying for your real estate. That clearly is a CPM ad model, and there are many of those – fastclick, interclick, etc. They will pay you based on each impression you show on your site regardless of whether or not someone clicks. They buy real estate. And I can guarantee you’d almost certainly make less from them than you would from Chitika.

    Chitika and Google pay for referalls, that is, clicks – leads you send them. As a lead is much more valuable than an impression, they pay a lot more. And quite rightly, they both want to make sure the leads are qualified – of a reasonable quality, not fraudulent and of maximum value to advertisers.

    Everyone here is complaining about how much they were cut based on what they thought they were going to get. Well, to my mind that means the only fault with Chitika is that they shouldn’t release their unaudiuted figures, so nephytes don’t get false expectations. (I’m not claiming to be a blogging guru, but my day job is as part of an online ad agency, I’ve been involved with online media buying for Fortune 100 companies for ten years).

    The deciding factor on whether or not you should keep Chitika is a a really simple one, and has nothing to do with how much you are cut. It’s eCPM. Compare your Chitika eCPM with other programs, and cut them if they don’t measure up. Make sure you compare Chitika eCPM with Google individual ad unit eCPM for the same period.

    I run both, and I just compared. Even though Chitika cut my revenue by 25% on audit, the average eCPM for chitika was about the same as Google.

    Now, with alternate urls that eCPM can only go up. Me? I’m sticking with chitika until the eCPM they offer falls below that I can reasonably expect from another ad network, and then I’ll change. Simple as that.

  4. spud says:

    “I’m sticking with chitika until the eCPM they offer falls below that I can reasonably expect from another ad network, and then I’ll change. Simple as that.”

    True, same here.

    BUT….

    It is very difficult to approximate the eCPM at this point because the figures take a month to arrive. One month can cost big publishers big money – by the time the eCPM is revealed, it is too late. It’s also difficult to make changes and measure the performance of those changes under the current system.

    I think the best thing Chitika could do know is speed up the auditing reporting. Daily would be good.

  5. Darren Rowse says:

    agreed – lets start a petition :-)

  6. Jon says:

    2% here. Not sure what’s going on for others but Chitika is amazing for me!

  7. Rau says:

    4% reduction here. I’ve only just heard about all this and am surprised by what’s going on as I know in my niche of quite a few publishers who are nothing but satisfied with Chitica. I wonder how many of these large reductions are small publishers? If you only get a few clicks per day it’s pretty easy to have a large reduction if someone clicks on more than one ad in a session on your site. Most of the publishers I know are making over $100 per day and are having very low audits.

  8. Sal says:

    It’s interesting to see the range of audits isn’t it! By my calculations including Darren’s audit the average audit is just over 27%.

    Actually reduce that to 26% because my audit was only 3% like Rau who I am in the same niche as. I’m surprised by the 26% figure as I don’t know anyone who has had more than 15% audit so far.

  9. Kiran says:

    I read all the comments here and finally I saw the dat and its way back in 2005!! Has the system changed in any manner?? Why are they still in beta?? Why not daily audits??

    I have a very decent impressions for a small blogger and clipping a chunk of the total really sucks :( Hope chitika changes its policy, alternate ads should be explored more….

  10. Kiran says:

    My earnings are 80% of the unaudited revenue! Not bad but yeah, $91 out of $114 is not bad a deal for a small blogger!!

Trackbacks

  1. [...] I imagine I’ll give it another month and see what happens. Darren Rowse spoke with a Chitika representative who explained the reasons for the auditing, and a large component was for ads clicked from invalid countries. Most sports bloggers should make out okay in this respect as I’d imagine most readers are from North America. [...]

  2. [...] But what has really got some people going is their ongoing Auditing process, where without notice they take a percentage off from your earnings for various reasons – read more about it at ProBlogger. [...]

  3. [...] 1st, 2005 and is filed under News Brief. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently notallowed. [...]

  4. [...] I can only assume that those complaining about the audit are unintentionally leaving their sites open to invalid clicks by using public computers, a shared household computer ro intentionally making fraudulant clicks. There may be more behind it and Darren Rowse hints at other reasons: I had a chat with someone in Chitika management this morning about yesterday’s audit and it seems that the reason why publishers with the largest reductions were audited so heavily was primarily for reasons of traffic from non accepted countries. [...]

  5. Qumana Blog says:

    Chitika’s auditing PR problem

    Ouch.  Boy Chitika has certainly taken it on the chin this week.  I’m not going to revel in their woe.  …

  6. Chitika’s auditing PR problem

    Ouch.  Boy Chitika has certainly taken it on the chin this week.  I’m not going to revel in their woe.  …

  7. [...] Chitika, home of the “eminimall” also whipped out the syke on bloggers across the blogosphere recently by “auditing” thier accounts to basically not pay for any of the clicks that they claim were “curiousity clicks”. Since the blogosphere was built by giving whiny people free publishing tools stuff like this gets a wee bit of coverage. [...]

  8. [...] Chitika made some publishers very unhappy by slashing revenue in audited reports. Chitika seemed to be on their way to becoming a major player in the small publisher advertising space, but this knocked a lot of wind out of their sails. People were very upset that the revenue they will actually receive is much less than they thought it was going to be. See JenSense, Eric Giguere and ProBlogger for more coverage. [...]

  9. Chitika Auditing Hubbub

    Some hubbub going around over the Chitika revenue audit: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. I’m not giving up on Chitika completely myself. I lost…

  10. [...] Chitika hat im Netz ingesamt Furore gemacht (siehe Artikel 1 und Artikel 2, ProBlogger hat seine Einnahmen angeblich verdoppelt), letzte Zeit gab es etwas Ärger mit der nachträglichen Bearbeitung der Provisionsausschüttungen. [...]

  11. [...] Reading this post by Darren and all the comments from other Chitika publishers made me think twice. The two main point struck me: [...]

  12. [...] Further reading: Chitika delays audit and payments by two weeks at Jensense.com Chitika Audit Issues at ProBlogger.net [...]

  13. [...] Personally, I intend to continue to keep Chitika on my site, they have been good to me so far. If you would like more info on the subject I suggest reading Darren’s write-up at ProBlogger.   [link] [...]

  14. [...] of click-thru reporting for a lot of people. Jensense points to this thread on Digital Point and Pro Blogger and Performancing have discussions going on as well. A lot of people are upset that their revenue [...]

  15. [...] This happened with Chitika also (although they only limited some Asian countries and moved quickly to make partnerships with European advertisers to monetize that traffic better) and was one of the main reasons that publishers revolted against them. YPN have also excluded sites with non US traffic (although at least they did this from the start). [...]