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).