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Chitika Secrets

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Chitika Secrets

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      By Joel Comm

INTRODUCTION........................................................................................ 3 

1.  WHAT IS CHITIKA PREMIUM? ............................................................ 6 

VALUABLE USERS ................................................................................... 10 
  2.1 Choosing The Right Format ............................................................... 10 
  2.2 Choosing The Location ...................................................................... 11 

  3.1 To Alternate Or Not To Alternate ........................................................ 15 
  3.2 Using A CPC System As Your Alternate ................................................ 16 
  3.3 Using An Affiliate Ad As Your Alternate ................................................ 17 
  3.4 Using CPM Ads As Your Alternates ...................................................... 19 
  3.5 Choosing Your Strategy .................................................................... 20 

  3.1 Different Users, Different Content ...................................................... 21 
  3.2 Customizing Your Search Box To Bring Up Chitika ................................. 23 
  3.3 Choosing Your Keywords ................................................................... 26 

5.  CAN CHITIKA WORK WITH SOCIAL MEDIA? ..................................... 27 
  5.1 Tell Them To Search......................................................................... 28 
  5.2 Talk About SEO ............................................................................... 28 

CONCLUSION.......................................................................................... 29 
When Chitika brought out its eMiniMalls, I thought they were great.
I loved the tabs. I loved the images. I loved the amount of
information they were able to squeeze into each unit.

And I certainly loved the revenues.

Chitika didn’t replace AdSense units across all my sites — I haven’t
come across anything that can do that yet — but on the pages that
talked about products, they did very well and provided a nice
additional income.

On those sites, I found it very useful to mix my ad systems so that I
was making money with AdSense, with affiliate units, with CPM
banners and with Chitika’s eMiniMalls too.

But eMiniMalls weren’t perfect. On pages that didn’t talk about
products, the units were largely ignored. I tended only to use them
on product pages.

And it turns out that advertisers weren’t completely happy with
them either.

Even though they were generating plenty of clicks, those clicks
weren’t producing large numbers of sales. So the advertisers told
Chitika that they wanted more. They told Chitika that they didn’t
just want clickthroughs of at least 2 percent; they wanted
conversion rates of at least 2 percent.

Now, that’s some tall order. Chitika has no control over what users
do once they’ve clicked the ad. It’s not the ad system’s job to
persuade users to buy. All a good ad system can do is serve ads
that match users’ needs and make the units look appealing.

Chitika’s eMiniMalls were doing that very well.

But faced with the loss of advertisers unhappy at paying for leads
that didn’t convert, Chitika was forced to do a little re-thinking.

And the company came up with a unique solution.

It decided to show its ads only to a fraction of a website’s users:
those who reached the site through a search engine; and those who
are based in the United States or Canada.
If you live in the United States or Canada and enter a keyword into
Google or any other search engine, click the link and reach a page
with Chitika’s code, you’ll see Chitika’s ads.

If you enter the URL directly into the browser bar, click a link to
reach the site, or if you’re not in the United States or Canada, you’ll
see… nothing. Well, you might see an alternate ad but you won’t
see an ad unit from Chitika.

That’s revolutionary. Until Chitika launched these new “Premium”
ads, all advertising systems worked on the principle that every good
user saw the ads. The ads themselves might vary depending on
their location — Google practices geolocation, noting the user’s IP
address and serving ads for local businesses and in local languages;
and Chitika isn’t the first service to cut out entirely users in some
low-earning locations — but how you reached the site has never
mattered before.

Now it does.

And it makes sense.

When a user types a URL directly into a browser, he’s looking for a
particular type of content and he knows that that website can
deliver it. He’s familiar enough with the content and the layout of
the site to know where the ads will be on the page, and he’s
probably become blind to them. He might click occasionally but a
user who reaches a site directly is likely to be satisfied with what he
finds on the page.

If he hadn’t been satisfied with the page in the past, he wouldn’t
have come back.

Users who reach a site through a search engine though are looking
for information but don’t know where to find it. They don’t know
whether your website is the best source of that information… or
whether the site offered by your advertiser can interest them too.

There’s a good chance then that having reached your site, the user
will click on an ad targeted to his keyword. After all, if your content
hasn’t completely satisfied him, he’s going to want to keep
searching. It’s easier to do that by clicking a link than by turning
back to the search engine and starting again.

And that’s pretty much what happened. According to Chitika,
publishers who used optimized Premium units together with
AdSense reported earnings as much as 25 percent higher
than those who used AdSense alone.

The ads themselves are different to the old eMiniMalls units. They
no longer contain the reviews and different shopping sources for
products. They look more like AdSense units, but with small
decorative pictures and a search tab so that users can continue

They also tell the user which phrase he or she searched for, so that
the ads look more like search results than… well, ads. That’s a neat
bit of optimization.

Most importantly of all, Chitika’s new Premium units cover many
more topics than the old eMiniMalls.

Because the ads they serve are a direct response to whatever
phrase was entered into the search engine, the inventory isn’t
restricted to products.

That means they’re now good for every publisher to use, not just
owners of review sites and product pages.

In this report, I’m going to explain how to make the most of
Chitika’s Premium ad units.

I’ll start by explaining the principle behind the new units. When
Chitika created the units, they tried to follow three commandments.
Understand those commandments, and you’ll have a good idea of
what the company is trying to do — and what you need to do to
make the most of them.

I’ll then talk about formatting. Just like any ad system, even though
Premium ads are contextualized, the size you choose and where you
put them always has a huge effect on the results you see.

I’ll explain which formats have delivered the best results and how to
use them — but mostly I’ll talk about some of the special issues
that Chitika’s Premium units raise.

I’ll then discuss alternates. Because your Chitika ads are only going
to be seen by a fraction of your users, what you show everyone else
is going to be as important as what you serve your American and
Canadian viewers.

I’ll reveal your three options and explain how to decide which is the
best from you.
Targeting those Chitika viewers is going to be vital as well, so I’ll
also talk about the importance of search engine optimization, and
about delivering different kinds of content to different types of

And finally, I’ll briefly mention a couple of ways that you can
combine Chitika Premium with social media.

You can get signed up with Chitika quickly and easily. The first
thing you’ll want to do is click here to get started. Once you applied
for your account, read on.

Let’s start though by looking at what Chitika Premium is all about.


Fig. 1.1 Chitika Premium is “Search Targeted Advertising”… whatever that

Chitika Premium is a completely new kind of advertising system.
The main principle is to show targeted ads only to those people
most likely to respond to them.

Although they’re cost-per-click (CPC) ads — ads that only pay when
a user clicks the link the ad contains — Chitika’s targeting makes
them very different to other kinds of online advertising.

When CPC ads first became available, advertisers loved them. Until
then, advertisers been paying on a cost-per-mille (CPM) basis,
handing over a set amount for every thousand impressions their ad
generated. While they could be sure that the fee they were paying
was putting their ad in front of a thousand people, they had no way
of knowing how many of those thousand people were really
interested in their products. In fact, advertisers knew that most of
those impressions were being served to people with absolutely no
interest in their product at all and who had barely even seen their
ad — and yet they still had to pay for them.

Cost-per-click ads meant that they only needed to pay when
someone actually clicked the ad to read more.

If they showed their ad to a thousand people and no one clicked,
they got that exposure for nothing. They also got no income but at
least they hadn’t paid for it.

If someone clicked the ad though, that was a pretty good sign that
they were interested. A lead like that was worth paying for.

Unless it wasn’t. Just because someone clicks an ad doesn’t mean
that they’ll actually buy something. Whether a lead converts has
always depended on a number of factors: it depends on the quality
of the seller’s site; it depends on his sales message; it depends on
the seller’s ability to create trust; and it depends too on the quality
of the traffic sent to the seller by the publisher — and, of course, it
depends on the quality of the product.

I’m always talking about the importance of optimization to
encourage ad clicks — and I’ll continue to talk about it in this report
too — but for advertisers, the quality of the clicks their ads receive
is at least as important as the number of clicks they receive.

Advertisers won’t want to pay $1 for each lead if only one in 100 of
them buys… and spends less than $100.

Google has known about this problem for a long time. That’s why it
introduced Smart Pricing to its AdSense system. Publishers who
send traffic that converts are rewarded with a higher cost-per-click
than publishers with low conversion rates.

The result is that a site with lots of ad clicks and a high clickthrough
rate can still earn less money than a site with fewer clicks if more of
those clicks convert into paying customers.

But that’s difficult to implement. You have to be able to measure
what the user does when he reaches the advertiser’s site and know
what the advertiser wants the lead to do. No one is quite certain
how Google does this, and it’s no surprise then that Chitika has
chosen a more direct route: it cuts out those users least likely to
become customers.

That reduces the chances that the advertiser will pay for an ad
that’s not going to bring him a solid lead.

So Chitika only serves its ads to users from the United States and
Canada (although it has also been experimenting with users in the
United Kingdom too.)

That ensures that advertisers are only pitching their products in
places where they can actually make sales. But Chitika also only
shows ads to people who have reached the site through a search

That doesn’t just mean that the ads are being seen by people
looking for specific information; it also means that Chitika is able to
use those search terms to serve very specific, targeted ads.

Chitika sums up its approach with three rules:

Rule 1 - Only show ads when the user really wants it.

According to Chitika’s blog, this means that Premium units are only
served when the company is sure of user intent and knows what the
user is looking for:

      “For all of your regular users who are simply browsing your
      site, the intent is much lower. In these cases, the Chitika ad
      does not show, and you are not blasting another ad into their
      face. Due to this, you are not annoying your users with yet
      another ad unit.”

In fact, that’s not true. Chitika also allows you to place an alternate
ad in the same position as the Premium unit — and that’s
something you should certainly use.

The truth is that Chitika doesn’t really care about annoying users
with another ad unit; it just cares about annoying its advertisers by
charging them for an ad click that doesn’t convert.

If some other advertiser wants to pay someone else though, that’s
fine by them — and it should be fine by you too.

Rule 2 - Tell your users why they're seeing the ad.
This is a smart move.

Search for a keyword on a page and it will appear highlighted.
Chitika has copied this approach by placing a line at the top of each
ad unit that says “You searched for” followed by the search term in
a highlighted yellow.

The yellow draws the eye and suggests to the user that the
following links contain responses to his search. That’s the sort of
thing that’s likely to result in clicks.

Chitika might like to portray this approach as “respecting” the
visitor’s feelings by explaining why you’re serving him this content
but it’s really just a neat way of drawing attention to the ads.

Rule 3 - Only show users what they want to see

This is simply Chitika’s way of saying that they deliver targeted ads.
Instead of matching the ads to the keywords on a page of content
though, they match them to the keywords entered in the search
engine used to reach the page — a much more accurate way of
assessing user intention.

The effect of all this has been impressive. Chitika now has over
50,000 publishers. Its inventory is much broader than the product-
based ads previously served by its eMiniMalls units. And the
clickthrough rates are at least as good as its most effective old-style
ads, the Recommended Product Units.

But for publishers, it’s always vital to remember how Chitika’s
Premium units work.

Because Chitika is creaming off your most valuable users for its own
advertisers, you’ll be left with a large rump of users many of whom
are still valuable too.

As you’re optimizing your Chitika units, you’ll also have to consider
how you’re going monetize those users as well.

In the next section, we’ll begin by looking at how to optimize your
Chitika Premium ads.

One of the benefits of Chitika’s old eMiniMalls was that they looked
so good. You couldn’t miss them when you saw them on a page and
you couldn’t help but want to press the tabs when you did see
them. (Actually, that might have been one of the things annoying
advertisers: the ads might have created curiosity without
generating a desire to buy. The first doesn’t always lead to the

Chitika’s Premium ads don’t look as innovative as the eMiniMalls
units but they are still attractive, eye-catching and, most
importantly, flexible enough to be adapted to any website.

2.1 Choosing The Right Format

Fig. 2.1 Just some of Chitika’s formats. Note the highlighted search term
and the little image next to the ad. Very eyecatching.

Chitika currently offers around 24 different formats of Premium
units, including two “MEGA-units” of 550 x 250 pixels and 500 x
250 pixels. That makes it easy to find at least one unit that will fit
into the best position on your Web page.

The usual criteria apply: ads that are above the fold — visible
without scrolling — tend to perform the best, and embedding units
into content so that users can’t miss them often delivers good
results too.
The MEGA-units are said to       Testing Your Ads
work particularly well
embedded into a column of        Want to see what your Chitika Premium
content. They might break        ads look like on your site without having
                                 to click through a search engine?
the reader’s flow but they’re
absolutely unmissable.           Just add “#chitikatest=keyword” to the
                                 end of the URL.
It also pays to match the
colors of the ad unit with the   So if you wanted to see what ads
                                 someone searching for “DVDs” would see
color scheme of your             on your site just surf to
Chitika allows publishers to
change the colors of the title color, text and URL of the ad link.

Make the title color the same as the color of your page’s sub-
headings, the text color the same as the color of your content and
the ad link… blue. Ad links should always be blue; it’s what users

You can also set the font of both the ad title and the text with these
lines of code:

      ch_font_title = "Arial";

      ch_font_text = "Arial";

Again, make the fonts match the fonts on your site.

And you can use this line to make sure that the advertiser’s page
opens in a new window or tab, keeping your users on your site:

      ch_target = "_blank";

That’s the easy bit.

2.2 Choosing The Location

A little tougher is choosing the location.

I don’t mean the location on the page — that’s simple enough.
Chitika recommends placing horizontal ads directly beneath the
article title. For other locations — such as embedding the unit into
text or in sidebars — it’s pretty clear where on the page the
different formats fit best. When you have a choice of two different
ad types for the same slot, testing each option for a week or so will
always tell you which delivers the best results.

And you don’t even have to worry about using little tricks to draw
readers’ eyes towards the ads. That old technique of putting images
next to the ad units — the technique that AdSense banned because
it was too effective — gets a new lease of life on Chitika Premium
units. The ads come with little images next to them (and, of course,
the search term is highlighted in yellow too.)

So it doesn’t really matter too much what lies immediately next to
your Chitika Premium unit; people are going to see it.

The challenge I’m talking about is the pages on which you should
include Chitika’s code.

Usually, you want to make sure that your ad code is included on as
many pages as possible. The more pages that show ads, the more
chances you’ve got of winning revenue. Most ad systems demand
that a page contains a certain amount of content but as long as you
keep within those limits, you generally want to put your ad code
right across your site.

That might not be true of Chitika’s Premium ads.

Remember, these units are only going to be seen on pages reached
from a search engine. You can expect then that those pages that
rank highest in search engines for their keywords will deliver more
Chitika ad revenue than those with low rankings.

For your top ranked pages then, Chitika is a must. According to
Karla Escolas, a Marketing Manager at Chitika, publishers
should be placing the code on their top five search pages at
the very least.

But that doesn’t mean you can ignore lower-ranked pages.

In fact, the position of a page in the search results alone isn’t
enough to predict the success of a Chitika unit on that page. It’s
perfectly possible that you could have one page that ranked high for
one search term and another page that ranked low for a different

But if the low-ranking page is associated with a popular search term
then it may well be receiving more search traffic overall.
For example, let’s say you have a Web page that ranked in the top
five search results for “Bill Murray.” If that ranking was enough to
give you 10 percent of the 1,000 daily searches for “Bill Murray” (or
however many searches his name receives), you’d be serving that
page to 100 searchers every day.

But if you ranked in the top 50 for “Angelina Jolie” and won 1
percent of the… say, 15,000 daily searches that she won, you’d be
picking up 150 users every day, even though that page had a lower
search engine ranking.

A better guide to the most effective pages for Chitika then will be
the stats in your Web analytics that tell you the total amount of the
page’s traffic that comes from search engines.

Any decent stats tool should be able to provide that information.

The more of the page’s traffic that comes from search engines, the
better you can expect that page to perform with Chitika Premium.

But if the traffic that doesn’t come from search engines only sees an
alternate ad, surely it doesn’t matter which pages contain Chitika’s
code? You can place the code on all the pages: searchers will click
the Premium unit; other browsers will click on the alternate unit.

But that assumes that an ad unit works as well when it’s an
alternate as it does when the code is pasted directly onto the page.
I’m not sure that’s always the case. In practice, I suspect the
results may vary depending on the keywords and depending too on
the advertising system you’re using as your alternate.

Chitika says that Google can contextualize an ad unit based on the
page on which it appears. So you can paste your AdSense code onto
an empty page and when the unit appears on your Web page, you’ll
get the same ads as always.

I think that’s something to keep an eye on. You might find that
replacing a regular AdSense unit with a Chitika Premium unit
containing an AdSense alternate results in most of your users
seeing ads that are less well-targeted than they used to be.

As I say, I’m not certain that’s the case but for pages with low rates
of search traffic, that’s something you should check. Keep a record
of your clickthrough rates and revenues for those pages for a week.
Place your Chitika Premium code on those pages with your old ad
code as an alternate, and compare the results.
If you’re finding that the alternate ads aren’t as well-targeted and
generate fewer clicks — and that the clicks on the Chitika units
don’t compensate for that lost revenue — then only use Chitika
units on the pages with the most search traffic.

In theory, you should do this testing for each one of the pages on
which you’re considering using Chitika. But test a few of the pages
with relatively little search traffic and it should quickly become clear
how you can expect Chitika to perform — and what percentage of
search traffic you need to compensate for any loss of performance
in your regular ads.

Of course, if you’re lucky enough to find that your alternate ads
perform as well as they did when the code was pasted directly onto
the page, then you can feel free to put Chitika everywhere and
enjoy the extra search money.

And don’t forget too, that while Chitika Premium units only appear
to search traffic, the ads do appear to those users throughout
the site, not just on the entry page. So even pages with low
amounts of direct search traffic according to your stats can still win
revenue from Chitika if a searcher clicks through to them using your
internal links.

Choosing the right format for your ads and optimizing your units
should be pretty straightforward. The units are eyecatching enough
to win views and clicks even if your optimization isn’t perfect, and
all the familiar placement rules apply.

In the next chapter, I’ll look at an issue that’s no less important
that optimization: your choice of alternate ads.


Chitika’s Premium units might be generating some fantastic results.
But they’re only generating those results for a fraction of your users
— your most valuable ones.

For everyone else — and that’s likely to be most of your users — it’s
as though Chitika was never there.

That makes the ads you show all those users vital. Even on a site
with lots of search traffic you could still find that most of your ad
revenue is coming from your other advertising systems. The Chitika
ads might pay more per click — and many publishers have found
that they perform at least as well as AdSense — and they might be
the best way to monetize one sub-group of users, but as long as
that group is small, your choice of alternate ads is going to be vital.

3.1 To Alternate Or Not To Alternate

The principles on which Chitika built its Premium units suggest that
there’s a value to be had by not showing alternate ads. When a user
returns to a site he’s already visited or looks at it from a location
outside the US or Canada, he can see fewer ads.

According to Chitika that means the user is going to be less
annoyed and receive a more enjoyable experience interrupted by
fewer ads.

I don’t believe a word of it.

If a user hasn’t reached your site through a search engine, there’s a
good chance that they’ve returned to it. That does suggest that
they they enjoyed it the first time, even if they reached it after
finding it through a search engine in the first place and saw an
“annoying” Chitika ad.

And besides, as much as I want my users to enjoy themselves, I
want them to pay for that enjoyment too. Chitika’s argument in
favor of folding ads away from some users is an argument in favor
of not earning with ads at all — and that’s not going to benefit

I can’t see any situation in which I would give up prime ad real
estate on a commercial website, and I don’t recommend that you do
that either.

The line you’ll need to include in your Chitika code to make sure
that there’s always an ad unit in that spot is:

      ch_alternate_ad_url = "INSERT URL HERE";

To create the URL you’ll need to upload a page to your website that
contains the following code:


      <!--AD CODE -->

replacing “<!--AD CODE -->” with the code for your ad unit.

Note that the page has to contain proper HTML. You have to include
all of those tags otherwise some ad systems — including Google’s
AdSense — will not be able to read the ad code and will not serve
the ad unit.

So what kind of ad should you put there?

You’ve really got three choices: another CPC system, such as
AdSense; a Cost-Per-Action (CPA) system, such as an affiliate ad;
or a CPM ad.

3.2 Using A CPC System As Your Alternate

Fig. 3.1 embeds an AdSense unit into
its text. Want to show an ad like this to your non-Chitika traffic?

I’ve pointed out that Chitika’s Premium ads are cost-per-click. You
only get paid if a user clicks on the ad. Using another CPC ad as
your alternate then is a like-for-like swap.
Usually, that means using Google’s AdSense system.

AdSense has long been the market leader in CPC advertising. It’s
got a giant inventory, a contextualization engine that does a
fantastic job of matching ads to content, and while there are other
CPC systems out there, I’ve yet to find anything as reliable or as

But bear in mind that you’ll probably already have Google AdSense
units on your page. Even Chitika recommends that the best way to
optimize your Premium units is to place an AdSense unit at the top
of the page, followed by the article title, then a Premium unit
directly beneath that title.

If you replace that Premium unit with another AdSense unit then,
you’re just going to be giving your users more of the same.

Again, that’s fine. Google does allow publishers to place more than
one unit on a page, and placing multiple AdSense units on a page is
often a good strategy. It increases the odds that a user will click on
at least one of them.

But it’s also a good idea to vary the kinds of ads you put on your

In general, a well balanced site should have income from ad clicks,
income from affiliate sales and income from CPM ads that earn a
little money from every single user.

If you already have a couple of other CPC units on the page then,
you might want to think about rebalancing your revenue streams by
using either an affiliate unit or a CPM ad.

3.3 Using An Affiliate Ad As Your Alternate
Fig. 3.2 Join the Amazon sales team.

And that often means using an affiliate ad. These pay a commission
for each sale. You won’t get paid for the click alone; the user has to
actually buy something before you get paid. But the payments are
usually much higher than you can expect to receive from a CPC click
even if the number of payments you receive is always much lower.

The best way to get the most out of affiliate ads is to actively
recommend the products in them. So a publisher could write a post
about a Photoshop technique, show Chitika ads to users searching
for “red-eye removal” or whatever the post is about, and use an
Amazon ad for a Photoshop book that the publisher mentions in the
article as the alternate.

That would give a different kind of revenue stream, but there is a
problem with this approach.

Remember, you’ve already lost a large chunk of your most valuable
users — Internet searchers based in the United States and Canada.
That just leaves American and Canadian returning users (or those
who clicked a link to reach your site) as the only people who will
buy from or any other store in North America.

If you don’t have many of those kinds of users, you’re going to
make very few affiliate sales.

You can increase your chances of winning affiliate sales in a number
of ways.

Pushing the affiliate product hard is always a good strategy and
may help to convert some of your returning users — they’ve already
shown that they trust you — but you can also link to digital
products that can be bought anywhere, or use stores such as that appeal to the largest number of your remaining
3.4 Using CPM Ads As Your Alternates

Fig. 3.3 You have to be big to use BrightRoll as an alternate. Not as big as
Gwen Stefani, but still big.

Affiliate ads are a risk. You’ll only get paid if someone actually buys
and as you’re not showing the ads to all the people most likely to
buy, there’s a good chance that your conversion rate will be
particularly low when you’re using Chitika Premium units.

CPM ads have the advantage of making sure that everyone pays…
although you’ll only be receiving a tiny amount for each user. That’s
why, in general, CPM ads are the most effective on sites with lots of

When you’re using Chitika Premium, that’s going to mean lots of
traffic from outside the US or Canada and which doesn’t reach your
site through search engines.

There are plenty of places to find CPM ads. Google sometimes
tosses some in with its AdSense inventory — although you have no
control of when they do that — but you can also try ValueClick
(, AdsDAQ ( or
MorningFalls (

And if you want to make sure that you’re putting a CPM video ad in
that slot though, you can take a look at BrightRoll
( You will need to serve a minimum of 3 million
video views a month though, so it’s only really suitable for fairly big
3.5 Choosing Your Strategy

So you’ve got three choices for your alternate ads. Which should
you choose?

There’s no one answer. By taking the most valuable users for itself,
Chitika requires that publishers have a good understanding of who
exactly is looking at their site. It means that you’ll have to spend
time poring over your stats, looking in particular at where your
users are coming from, what percentage of them are coming from
outside North America, and how they’re reaching your pages.

The most effective alternate ad strategy will depend on the other
ads already on your page and on your users too.

Those conditions are all too specific to produce one definitive
strategy. You’ll have to experiment and test. But there are general
guidelines that you can follow as you’re planning your testing:

   •   If you already have two AdSense units on the page, you’ll
       probably find it best to use a CPM or affiliate unit as your
       alternate rather than toss in a third AdSense unit.

   •   If Chitika is still leaving you with lots of North American
       users or your content allows you to recommend digital
       products, use an affiliate ad as your alternate.

   •   If you have lots of traffic from around the world, try using
       a CPM ad.

None of these guidelines is definitive. You’ll need to test them and
compare results. But they should help you to choose the best
strategies for your site.

There is however one rule you should always follow when choosing

You must make the alternate ad the same format as the unit
                       it replaces.

Sounds obvious, doesn’t it? And yet, so many sites have ads that
look great when they’re displaying Chitika units and slightly off
when they’re showing an alternate ad because the publisher didn’t
choose a unit that was exactly the same size.
That’s particularly an issue when you’re using one of Chitika’s
MEGA-units. Few other ad systems have units that size so do make
sure that your alternate ad still makes your content look good.

Chitika’s Premium ads really do make a whole new set of demands
on publishers. In the next chapter, I’m going to look a little more
closely at what those demands mean in practice.


I spend a lot of time checking my stats. I check my AdSense
channels to see which ads and positions are performing best. I
check my page views to see how the traffic is flowing, identify my
best sources and note which types of content my users most want
to read.

Until now though, I haven’t usually checked which countries my
users are coming from.

The list of countries you can get in your server logs have always
been a bit like the manual that comes with a new car. You’re sure
it’s got interesting information in it, you’re certain that if you were
to read it carefully you’d discover a secret way to get more out of
your asset… but really, who does ever read these things?

If you’re going to make the most of Chitika’s Premium units, you’re
going to need to read those parts of your users stats very, very

You’ll need to know which countries your users are in, how many of
them are reaching your site from search engines, which keywords
they’re using to find your site and — if you really want to make the
most of your Chitika units — what you can do to increase the flows
of the kinds of users that Chikita likes the most.

That’s what I’m going to explore in this chapter.

4.1 Different Users, Different Content

The first thing you’ll need to do is divide your users into two.
You’ll need to divide them into regular users and new users — and
you’ll need to prepare content for each of them.

That’s because there is a difference between the kind of content
that grabs new readers and the kind of content that interests
returning users.

You know that the headline of an article is important. You know too
that the first paragraph of an article is important. When a new
readers looks at one of your Web pages, he only glances at it for a

If the headline looks interesting, he’ll start reading. If the first
paragraph sparks his curiosity. He’ll continue reading. And if the
article as a whole is interesting, he’ll click through to other pages,
subscribe to your RSS feed and come back in the future.

To capture a new reader, you have to be able to deliver hard-hitting
beginnings that pull browsers in and force them to read on. You
have to persuade them that you’ve got content they’re going to
enjoy and find useful.

Returning users though are a lot more forgiving. They already know
what sort of content you deliver. They know they’ll find it
informative and entertaining, and they know they can trust you to
deliver what they want.

Of course, all content has to be good. Your pages always have to
entertain and inform, but the content you serve to new users also
has to persuade them — from the very first line — that what they’re
looking at is worth reading.

That’s why so many websites throw in the occasional list post.
They’ll publish articles with titles like “12 Ways To Win The Lottery”
and “52 Things You Never Knew About The Lakers.”

Those articles won’t contain the most informative or the most
original content on the website. But they will be among the most
attractive, the ones that get the most links, the most votes on Digg
and the most traffic. They bring in new readers. They offer them
content that’s enjoyable and easy to digest. And they encourage
many of those new users to come back.

But even these articles have to be found before they can bring in
those new readers — which is why publishers also create articles
stuffed with keywords.
There’s nothing wrong with that tactic when you’re optimizing your
site for search engines. But keyword-rich pages often suffer in the
reading. To attract the attention of the search engine robots, the
same term has to be repeated frequently. That makes for pretty dull
text — the kind of reading that robots like but people don’t.

To make as much money as possible with Chitika Premium, you’re
going to need plenty of search-engine and new-user friendly pages
scattered throughout your site.

You don’t want to overdo it. Too many list posts can make for a
shallow-looking website, and too many keyword-rich articles make a
site look spammy. But they can function as useful entry points for
search engine traffic — and profitable locations for Chitika units.

The remainder of the site though can make the most of the fact that
your users will already know who you are and understand what you
have to offer. Those articles can be relaxed, friendly and familiar.
They’ll appeal to your returning users, the people who will visit
frequently enough to give you a chance of picking up AdSense clicks
— and the people most likely to give you affiliate sales.

Because they’re returning users who didn’t reach your site from a
search engine though, they won’t be giving you Chitika clicks.

But even if you plan your content creation so that one article in ten,
for example, is optimized for search engines and filled with high-
paying, high-ranking keywords, your Chitika units would still only
be visible to those people who had spotted your site in search
results. (And only some of them.)

There is a way though, to make Chitika visible to all North American
visitors on all of your pages.

4.2 Customizing Your Search Box To Bring Up Chitika

I’ve always been a little doubtful about the value of putting a search
box on a website. Sure, when you’ve got a lot of content, it’s useful
for your visitors. It means they don’t have to browse page after
page to find interesting content and it makes it more likely that
they’ll stay on your site for longer, giving you more opportunities to
show ads.
And if you’re using a search box supplied
by Google, you’ll get a cut of any ad
clicks generated in the results.

In practice though, I haven’t found that
to be too useful. Maybe it can work for
other sites, but while those search clicks
have brought in a little money for me,
they’re nothing compared to the
revenues I’ve seen from well-optimized
AdSense units.

The ability to customize searches to
sites within a network — such as my
own sites or those of a partner as well —
could be quite helpful too. But I wouldn’t
want to depend on income from a search
box to finance a website.

Chitika though does gives those Google
Custom Search boxes a whole new use.

Put a Custom Search Box on your site
and when a North American user uses
search to click through to another page      Fig. 4.1 A Custom Search
                                             box at Washing-Machine-
on your site that carries Chitika’s code,
they’ll get to see a Premium unit.

And having searched once, they’ll then see Premium units on every
page they visit.

Done carefully, that can make a huge difference.

You’re no longer dependent on search traffic to win your Chitika
clicks. With a Custom Search box it’s possible to monetize
even your regular users with Chitika.

There is just one catch: you’ll have to encourage your users to
make use of those search boxes. That might be a little tricky.

One of the reasons that search revenues tend to be fairly low is that
only a small fraction of users will use the search box. They have to
know what they’re looking for and they have to know too that what
they want is available on the site.
More usually, if a user can’t find the content he wants quickly, he’ll
click an internal link or two. And if he still can’t find it, hasn’t been
tempted by an ad and has to search to find what he wants, he’ll go
back to Google.

To ensure that your regular users navigate with the search box on
your site — and bring up Chitika’s ads on every page they look at —
you’ll need to encourage them to search without going back to

Fortunately, that’s not too difficult to do — especially if you actually
give them the keywords.

Try placing a short piece of text near the search box, informing your
readers that they can find more articles with similar content on your

So if you had a website about gardening, a sentence like this
directly beneath or above the Custom Search box should be enough
to do the trick:

      “Looking for more articles about gardening? Search for
      ‘gardening’ here.”

Ideally, each page on which that text appeared would also target a
particular keyword. So instead of telling your users to search
generally for “gardening” you could tell them to search for more
articles about weeding or fertilizer:

      “Looking for more articles about weeding? Search for
      ‘weeding’ here.”

That single sentence would tell users that there is more content
available, let them know what they have to do to find it — and as
soon as they searched, it would activate the Chitika Premium units
for users who would not otherwise have seen them.

Clearly though, to make use of this method, you should be putting
your Chitika code on at least the most important pages that contain
those keywords.

One of the complaints that Chitika’s people make about the way
that publishers are using Premium units is that publishers aren’t
placing them on enough pages.

If you’re going to use a Custom Search box to turn your regular
users into search users, you might well have to put them on a lot
more pages than even the five top search results that Chitika

You’ll need to put them on at least the top search pages for each of
your main keywords.

4.3 Choosing Your Keywords

And those keywords are going to be crucial. They’re also going to
force you to make some of the toughest decisions about how you’re
going to optimize your Chitika units.

Keywording is always difficult — which is why most publishers tend
to take the easy route.

When you’re uploading content regularly, you don’t want to think
too hard about the keywords for every article you upload. You want
to keep an eye on your search engine rankings. You want to keep
an eye on your AdSense earnings.

But mostly, you want to keep both eyes on your content.

Create good content, and people will find you. Place AdSense on
your site, and Google’s inventory and contextualization engine are
so broad and effective that you should find yourself serving ads that
generate clicks.

You’ll just have to optimize the units to make sure that those units
are seen.

Chitika demands that you do a little more though. Because Chitika’s
ads are so effective when placed in front of their target audience
(publishers have reported increase revenues of around 25 percent
higher than pages with AdSense alone), you’ll want to make sure
that the keywords those ads target are high-earners.

That’s going to take some balancing — and a lot of testing.

You won’t know which keywords are the most valuable, so you’ll
need to test a number of them and make comparisons. So a
publisher with a website about carpets would want to create pages
that target keywords like “Persian rugs,” “deep pile” and “acrylic

He’d need to look at the percentage of users who visit those pages
as a result of clicking through from a search engine. He’d need to
look at the clickthrough rate. And he’d need to look at the eCPM —
the amount of money actually earned on average for every
thousand impressions.

That would tell him which of those keywords are actually bringing in
the most revenue — and which types of pages he should be creating
more often.

In targeting search engine traffic, Chitika has made life very easy
for its programmers. When you know the keywords that users are
looking for, it’s not hard at all to bring up targeted ads.

But you can’t help feeling that Chitika is missing a trick. Search
engine traffic is always going to be important, but these days social
media traffic is vital too. In the next chapter, I’m going to take a
quick look at some ways you might be able to profit from users
visiting your site from a social media site.


I’m a huge fan of social media. I love the fact that I can use Twitter
to turn users into a community, talk to my customers and build

It’s an amazing form of marketing. One that’s viral, effective and a
huge amount of fun too.

Whether your ultimate goal is to persuade people to pay you for
your services, buy your products or just drop by your ad-supported
website, a carefully created Twitter stream, LinkedIn account and
even Facebook account can all be hugely effective branding tools
and traffic drivers.

And neither of those things — alone — is going to earn you a penny
from Chitika.

Because Chitika only pays for search traffic, even if you were to set
up a Twitterfeed — a kind of RSS feed that tells your Twitter
followers when you’ve posted new content — you wouldn’t get a
penny for any of that traffic from Premium units. Because those
users — loyal readers of your tweets and content — didn’t come
through a search engine, Chitika won’t know what to serve them so
it won’t serve them anything.

I think that’s a huge waste but there’s not a huge amount that you
can do about it… except for a couple of small things.

5.1 Tell Them To Search

The most obvious is to tell your friends and followers to use the
Custom Search box.

That’s not a bad idea anyway.

If you’ve got a site that’s been around for a while, then you’ve
probably got tons of old content that rarely, if ever, get an airing.

That’s a shame. If you can put those pages in front of users, you’ll
put ads in front of them too, and make some money with no extra

Write occasional tweets that tell people about the treasures that
they can find digging around on your site and you should create
enough curiosity to inspire them to spark up your Chitika ads.

You can do that by simply inviting them to search:

      “Try searching for ‘weed-whackers’ on my site at
      There’s some classic content there for all enthusiastic weed-

Or you could box a little more cleverly and use the tweet to
generate curiosity:

      “Wow. Searched for ‘weed-whackers’ on my site at and found a great article I’d forgotten I’d even

Toss a tweet like that into your timeline every now and then, and
you should give your Chitika income occasional boosts.

5.2 Talk About SEO

Encouraging people to search your site should be pretty simple but
if you want to be really subtle, you can write occasional tweets
about search engine optimization.
This is really only going to feel natural if you tweet about website
publishing anyway.

If that is part of your repertoire though, then mentioning how your
optimization efforts are going and tossing in links to the search
results at Google so that users can click through — then click the
link — could give you a few more Chitika ad clicks too.

On the whole though, social media and Chitika are not the most
natural partners. Chitika tries to make money out of new users
while social media is a way of turning regular users into a
community of loyal users.

Perhaps the best strategy then might be to work backwards.

Chitika gives you an added incentive to focus on your search engine
optimization. It means that rewards for bringing in new users are
higher than they’ve ever been.

You won’t just get a chance to show your site to new users. You’ll
also get a chance to show those new users one of the Web’s most
effective — and most selective — ad units.

If you’re going to spend extra time looking for more search traffic
then, be sure to add a Twitter widget, or a LinkedIn or Facebook
button to your site so that you can stay in touch with those new
visitors. (Twitter offers a bunch of widgets at
that are easy to install and which put your tweets on your website.)

You’ll give those new visitors a reason to click through to your
community site, follow you… and keep in touch.


I’m not an expert on search engine optimization. There are plenty
of people around who spend all day every day doing nothing but
counting keywords, measuring pagerank and drumming up links.
When it comes to pushing a site up the search results, I’m happy to
listen to the experts.
And it’s those experts who are likely to benefit most from Chitika’s
Premium units.

Publishers who understand SEO, whose sites have high page
rankings and which have a high percentage of traffic from Google,
Yahoo! and Bing are always going to be the ones who make the
largest sums from Chitika Premium.

You can argue then that the most effective strategy to follow when
implementing these units is to focus on your SEO, and try to bring
in as many of the users Chitika wants as possible.

That’s a good strategy to follow anyway though. Publishers should
always be keeping an eye on their search positions and ensuring
that they have pages that appear high in search results for their
main keywords. They should either be doing that themselves by
learning about SEO and putting those strategies in place — or by
paying someone else to do it for them.

Chitika now provides an added incentive to do that, but the free
traffic that comes in from search engines should always have been
incentive enough.

In this report, I’ve tried to talk about some of the other methods
that publishers can use to make the most out of Premium units.

I explained the principles behind the units, and I discussed what
Chitika is trying to do and why they’re doing it. It is possible to
argue that Chitika is being selfish in stealing away all the best users
for itself and leaving only the lower value visitors for other
advertising systems.

But they are paying a premium for those visitors so while the
money you receive from your other ads might be lower than usual,
most publishers have found that the extra payments they now
receive from their North American search traffic more than make up
for those losses.

I also described some basic optimization strategies that publishers
can implement to make the most of their ads and ensure that
visitors see them — and don’t see them as ads.

Those are very simple. Chitika provides a wide range of different
formats that fit just about every position on your page. While you
might be faced with a choice of two or three different formats for a
particular position, the difference in results is likely to be minimal
and easy to measure. In practice, you should find that the same
principles that apply to any CPC-based ad model deliver the best
results: put the ads above the fold, embed them into content and
format them to look like content, and you’ll win the most clicks.

Chitika’s decision to highlight the search terms and add neat little
pictures to the text makes that even easier.

The choice of alternates is much trickier but no less important.
That’s why I devoted an entire section of the report to the
guidelines that can help you to decide which kinds of ads to show to
the users that Chitika leaves behind.

And I also discussed what Chitika’s strategy of only earning from
search engine traffic means for publishers.

That’s vital. Until now, I suspect that few publishers have really
thought a great deal about what their readers are looking for and
what they expect to find on the site. We’re all probably guilty of
assuming that if someone has reached our website it’s because
they’re looking for the kind of content we deliver, whether that’s
tips on patio-building or articles about orc-bashing.

But there are differences between the visitors who reach your site
for the first time and the users who come back again and again
because they trust your content and know you can deliver.

I talked about those differences and I revealed one strategy that
you can use to serve Chitika ads even to regular users who might
enjoy your vintage articles.

And finally, I discussed a few ways in which you can use social
media to increase your Chitika earnings. Chitika and social media
might not be natural partners but the community you can build on
sites like Twitter is so valuable that it’s a shame to waste it.

If you’re using Twitter — and you should be — then you should also
be looking for ways to turn that community into Chitika clicks.

But I don’t expect everyone to use all of the strategies outlined in
this report. There are lots of different ways to earn money from
your websites and only a limited amount of time to do it.

Spend hours thinking about ways to encourage your Twitter
followers to click your Custom Search box and that’s time you’re not
spending creating new content, negotiating affiliate deals or just
enjoying Internet publishing.
The strategies I’ve outlined here will help you to make the most of
Chitika Premium units. You can choose which to implement and
decide which will suit your site the best. In practice, I suspect that
most publishers will find that it pays to create a balanced strategy
that makes the most of each of their ad systems.

That will usually mean:

   •   Paying more attention than usual to search engine
       You might well already feel incentivized to bring in plenty of
       search traffic but knowing that those kinds of users are now
       more valuable than ever should drive publishers to check their
       pageranks and their keywords more frequently. That’s no bad

   •   Adding a Custom Search box — and encouraging
       readers to use it.
       Most sites add a search box as an extra function for their
       users and as a way to pull up old content. Chitika turns
       Google’s Custom Search boxes into genuine money-spinners
       — but only if you push your visitors into using them.

   •   Using AdSense alternates.
       Although you can use just about any kind of ad as an
       alternate for your non-North American search engine traffic,
       AdSense is an effective and reliable like-for-like swap. It
       makes a good — and very simple — place to start for most

   •   Checking stats.
       You should be doing this anyway as well, of course, but when
       you implement a new ad system, keeping an eye on the
       results and your implementation strategies is more important
       than ever. In particular, you’ll want to make sure that the
       techniques you’re using to increase your Chitika earnings
       aren’t lowering the earnings from your other ads so much that
       you’re earning less overall.

I don’t think that’s going to happen though. In fact, I think you
should find that because you’re now making more money from your
most valuable users, your site will be more profitable. And as an
added benefit, because you’ll be spending more time looking at your
search engine rankings, you’ll also be picking up more traffic and
more regular visitors too.
None of that will happen though until you sign up, add the code and
start optimizing!

If you haven’t already done it, get signed up for Chitika Premium

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