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The Chitika Experiment… Part I

Background

Most of my sites use Adsense, but as wonderful as Adsense is, it’s not perfect. For those who don’t know how Adsense works, it’s a form of “contextual advertising”. What happens is Adsense scans the content of your web page, and provides ads that are targeted to the user, based on the content of your page. That’s what contextual advertising is all about. Really neat idea actually.

Except there’s a problem… Sometimes Adsense guesses wrong. For example, I have a page on a site that has instructions as to how to fix worn mouse feet. Now good ads for this page would be perhaps ads about a computer mouse, keyboard, or other peripherals. Unfortunately, since the directions on the site involve using glue, and talk a lot about mouse feet, I get ads about dealing with smelly feet, and a lot of ads about glue. While it would be nice if my readers had foot odor problems and had frequent glue shortages, I find it unlikely.

Now there are options… I could rewrite parts of the web page, or stick the word “mouse” or “computer mouse” in a few times. Or, I could consider adding another type of advertising to the page. I decided to go with additional advertising. After all, you’ve probably heard the term “don’t put your eggs all in one basket”, and it’s true. If something ever happened with Adsense, it’s good to have an extra source of a revenue stream to help out through the rough times.

Now I was after something I could use in conjunction with Adsense, and after some reading, and more reading, and more reading, I applied to Chitika. By default, their ads are non-contextual, and Adsense requires that other ads on the page are non-contextual.

The Experiment Begins…

I applied to Chitika. During the application, it suggests that the sites that work best with Chitika have at least 10,000 page views per month which is roughly 300-350/day. The site I submitted has about 500-1000 page views per day, so I easily qualify there.

The next morning, I checked my email and found that I had been approved. I logged into the Chitika website and started putting together my ads.

I was pleasantly surprised with the interface. They have a fair selection of Ad Layouts, and you can use your own custom colors, nothing extraordinary there. They also allow you to choose which keywords you want for your ads. In my mouse web page example, I could chose “mouse” as a keyword, and an ad for a Logitech mouse showed up. Perfect! The thing that really impressed me though was the “preview” button they have for each change you make. The preview shows up in the form of a little pop-up which gives you an exact idea of what your ads will look like, and what ads will show up for different keywords. Like Adsense, you can create channels for each of your ads which can help you determine which ads on which pages are performing well.

The down-sides: First, each ad has a picture in it. Unfortunately, the background for the picture is always white. That part of the ad does not really blend in well to the rest of the page if your page background isn’t a light color. Next, if your site has various topics, you’re going to have to pick keywords for each page. This won’t affect those with sites revolving around one topic, but if you have a site with various topics, creating the ads can get tedious. Unfortunately, there’s no way around this using non-contextual advertising. You simply must target each ad on your own.

The Progress Thus Far

So far, I’ve put both Chitika and Adsense ads on each of my pages. Where Adsense wasn’t targeting terribly well, I replaced more than one Adsense ad with a Chitika one. In some cases, rather than removing any Adsense, I simply added the Chitika ads.

Now what remains to be seen is how effective these changes are. From my understanding, Chitika updates once every 24 hours, so I don’t know how they’ve been performing yet. Hopefully within a few days I’ll have an idea as to how Chitika ads have affected traffic, and total revenue.

How will Chitika affect my total revenue? How much will my Adsense income drop? Does Chitika pay as well per click for me? Are there now so many ads on my pages that it’s taken away from content enough that visitors will decrease? These are questions that will hopefully be answered soon, and the results will be coming up in one of my next blog posts.

Stay tuned for Part II !