Optimize your Chitika revenue using eMiniMalls Category Hints

What is “Category Hint”? Category hint is a new targeting option by which you can pick and choose from a list of categories supported in the eMiniMalls system. Your selected category will be used as a “fallback” in the event that the system does not find an appropriate product for your preferred keyword(s). You can browse through all categories using the category preview tool

Another use of this feature is to rotate through the popular products in a given category. For example, to show the best “Digital Cameras”, you would use the category for “Digital Cameras” and then specify no keywords. The system will then randomly rotate through the set of products in that category. Please note that the category is NOT set at the account level. You have full flexibility to target each eMiniMall unit to its own category. Even if you have more than one eMiniMall unit on a single page, you can have each one targeted to different categories. For example, the first unit can be targeted to “Sound Cards” and the 2nd unit to “Motherboards”. Selecting “Categories Hints” does not guarantee that only products from those product categories will appear. eMiniMalls service will first try to find matching results for the keyword(s) of your choice. Second preference will be given to a popular product from the selected category hint when possible. If the category product is missing, a network-wide popular product will be displayed as a fall back.

How to specify a “category hint”? There are two ways of specifying a category hint:

1. Code Panel: You can login to your account, click on “eMiniMalls Code” and then pick a category from the dropdown in “Category Hints” (in the “Set Options” section)  

2. Code Hacking: For existing users who have already deployed code, you can add this line to the code (anywhere after the line with ch_client but before the line with /script). You need to replace the XXXX below with the correct category code (PS: The category codes are available here). ch_default_category = “XXXX”;

Technical Notes:

  • Lazy Man’s Approach: To rotate through popular products in a given category (e.g. “Sound Cards”), pick your preferred category and leave the keyword list empty (PS: You can do this by hitting “Remove All” in the code panel).
  • Double quotes: Some software platforms seem to have trouble when the ch_default_category value is enclosed by double quotes. If that is the case for your platform and the eMiniMall units disappear when you add channel tracking, please try with single quotes.
  • Geek Playground: If you have server side capabilities, you can dynamically assign the category codes. For example, some blog sites with multiple sections can set the individual categories for each section.
  • Unit Level Targeting: You can target each eMiniMall unit to its own category. Even if you have more than one eMiniMall unit on a single page, you can have each one targeted to different categories. For example, the first unit can be targeted to “Sound Cards” and the 2nd unit to “Motherboards”.
  • Blog Post Titles: If you currently target the eMiniMall unit to the title of your blog post (using the ch_query hack), you will want to set a fallback category. By doing so, if your blog post title does not return a valid product (e.g “Big Blue releases 4th Quarter earnings”), then you will be able to specify a category to fallback to (e.g. “PC Desktops”).

That which is tracked improves. Custom Chitika eMiniMalls reports are now available

Want to know which of your eMiniMalls units are the most effective and generating the most revenue for you? Check out our new updated affiliate reporting and account management system with easy to use tab based menu options and custom reports. You can now access and view aggregate stats across various channels for any period: ‘last week’, ‘this month’, ‘last month’, or for any select dates.  

Login in to your account, click on the “Reports” tab and use the “Filter by Dates” pull down menu to generate custom reports.

eMiniMalls PayPal payments – no processing fee

There seems to be a misconception that Chitika eMiniMalls users who opted for PayPal based payments will incur a processing fee from PayPal. This is not true. PayPal will directly charge Chitika for the processing fee. To reiterate, publishers do not get charged a fee to receive their eMiniMalls earnings via PayPal. By the way, PayPal payments for November have gone out. Checks are also going out this week.

Chitika eMiniMalls earnings for November and December

November and December final earnings reports are ready. Please log in to your accounts to see the final audited reports for both November and December.

Difference between the daily raw click reports and the monthly audited earnings: In early December we completed releasing updates to our daily reports and hence the difference between the raw click reports and the audited reports for December is significantly lower than the difference between the raw click reports and the audited reports for the month of November. We are continuing to work on updating our reporting system to minimize the difference between our daily raw clicks reports and the monthly audited earnings reports. However, we do highly recommend that the daily click reports be used only for directional purposes.

November payments: Now that we completed our audits, we will start processing November payments. Clients who opted for PayPal based payment can expect to see the PayPal payments in email and clients who opted for checks can expect to receive the payments in mail over the next few days.

December payments: December payments will be processed at the end of January.

A few clarifications:

  • Clients with significant click traffic from countries not currently supported by our program, can expect to see a large difference between the unaudited daily click reports and the final audited earnings for November. For more details please read our earlier blog post on audited stats.
  • For December you can expect to see a smaller difference between the daily raw click stats and the final audited revenue reports, when compared to November, because in December we completed releasing an update to our daily reporting system so that clicks from unsupported countries are dynamically filtered from the daily raw click reports.
  • Although we did start filtering clicks (from unsupported countries) on a daily basis, we still do need to rely on our end of the month audit process to compute and finalize the earned revenue. The final revenues are calculated after the audit process that takes into consideration factors like click fraud, merchant feedback, merchant chargebacks, etc. Hence you can expect to see a difference between the daily and the final audited numbers. Our goal is to continue enhancing the reporting process as much as possible and decrease the differences between the daily and monthly (post audit) stats.
  • Why not process both November and December payments at once? Although we did complete the audits for both November and December, we are only able to process payments for November this week. December payments will be processed at the end of January.
  • November bonus: Earlier in November we issued a 10 percent bonus. As a gesture of goodwill we actually continued the 10 percent bonus for December as well. The bonus amount is already reflected in the daily and the final monthly audited earnings numbers for November and December.

Again, we apologize for the delay in completing out November audits. We thank you all for your patience and support. Over the next few weeks we are gunning for significant enhancements to our eMiniMalls program. Stay tuned!

Chitika Reporting System and Monthly Audits Update

We are working on upgrading our back-end filtering and fraud detection systems to dynamically detect and prevent fraud, improve the quality of the overall network and help minimize the difference between the daily raw click reports and the final monthly post-audit earned revenue reports. Earlier this month, we released a couple of enhancements to our reporting systems. At the same time we also started expanding the service to several European countries introducing international merchant listings into the program. However, we are currently running into unexpected delays in our monthly audits for November. We are aggressively working on completing the audit process as soon as possible. We apologize for the delay and we are hoping that we will be able to complete and finalize the November audits over the next two weeks. In fact, we are trying to complete both November and December audits by January 15th.

While we are working on ironing out the kinks in our beta program, we thank all our clients for the continued support. We do not expect the delay in audits to become a recurring issue going forward, because we are focusing on putting in place robust systems that will help streamline the reporting and auditing processes. Unlike traditional pay-per-click advertising programs, our eMiniMalls service is based on the novel impulse-merchandising model that is new to all parties. We are confident that our eMiniMalls program will continue to evolve and offer a significant incremental revenue stream that will complement, not cannibalize, web publishers’ existing revenue from traditional branding-based advertising programs. Although eMiniMalls is based on the CPC model, the program is able to command relatively higher CPC bid amounts from merchants, because it is predicated by the implicit assumption that leads from our interactive units tend to be highly pre-qualified and hence will result in higher click to sales conversions. Initial feedback from our merchant partners is very positive.

We are continuing to introduce several enhancements to maintain and grow a very high quality network that will continue to evolve into a valuable sales/marketing channel for our merchant partners. We are also working on better understanding the overall performance of our eMiniMalls service, across a variety of content destinations, so that we can identify areas where the program is able to deliver the value to our publisher clients without cannibalizing existing revenue from traditional advertising programs. We apologize for the current delay and we want to assure you that we are making all efforts to help speed up the reporting and auditing processes. Again, we thank you for your patience and support.

Updated Daily Reports and Ongoing Chitika Expansion into Europe

Updated reporting process: During the first week of December, we made some enhancements to our daily reporting system. Key changes:

  1. Daily filtering of clicks from countries currently not supported in the eMiniMalls program: Instead of waiting till the end of the month for the audit process to filter out non-revenue earning clicks from unsupported countries, we are now filtering out those clicks from the daily reports. Please note though that daily reports are for directional purposes only. The final revenues are calculated after the audit process that takes into consideration factors like click fraud, merchant feedback, merchant chargebacks, etc. Our goal is to continue enhancing the reporting process as much as possible and decrease the differences between the daily and monthly (post audit) stats.
  2. Faster daily updates: You can expect to see a faster turn around time for the daily reports.

Expansion into Europe: Following our expansion into UK, we have now begun phased testing of regional merchants listings in the following countries: France, Germany, Denmark, Belgium, Italy, Spain, Norway, Sweden, and Netherlands. With geo-targeting in place, we are now able to display regional promotions and offers to visitors from Europe.

Chitika feedback on audited reports

Answers to some of the most frequently asked questions addressing the following topics: audited reports, alternate url option, click rejection for international traffic, curiosity clicks, etc.

Q: Why did I see a significant difference in the number of clicks after audits?

The daily reports only summarize the data from the raw click logs. On a monthly basis we run our audited process to remove and discount potentially fradulent clicks (i.e., clicks generated by bots, automated scripts etc) and clicks from countries currently not supported. For example, currently we do not have offers and promotions from merchants who are willing to accept and pay for clicks from regions other than US, Canada, Australia and Western Europe. In turn we don’t get paid for clicks from Asia and other regions as well.

Q: If it is the case that you are not getting paid (and hence not paying us) for clicks from certain countries, why are you not giving us the option to not show eMiniMalls for that traffic?

That is exactly what we worked on during the last couple of weeks. Please check out our new Alternate URL service. You can now set up the eMiniMalls code such that an ad unit of your choice will be displayed for traffic that we do not support.

Q: Why didn’t you give us the alternate URL feature two months back? Did you plan on keeping that extra cash and not pay us?

That is not the case. We don’t get paid for those clicks as well. Why the delay in releasing this feature? We just launched eMiniMalls a few months back and we are aggressively working on introducing and releasing as many options and features. Over the last month we completed releasing the following:

  1. Ability to customize colors and settings.
  2. Ability to set and track up to 1000 channels
  3. Geo targeting so that we can kick start eMiniMalls UK
  4. And just this week we completed releasing the Alternate URL

Q: That is all fine but since you are filtering clicks, why can’t you disclose the filtered results on a daily basis and let us know exactly what we can expect so that we can avoid this suspense till the end of the month? 

Our goal is to move away from the current process where we are just reporting the raw click data on a daily basis but not the audited stats. We are working on this so that we can address the problem.

Q: So until you actually complete releasing the daily filtered process we the publishers are stuck with this guessing game?

In the short term to address this issue we released the Alternate URL option. This it self will go a long way in reducing the difference between the daily raw clicks logs and the monthly audited numbers.

Q: Does this mean there will be no need to audit the stats at the end of the month?

We still need to run our fraud detection algorithms so that we can filter out fraudulent clicks and bad quality traffic. But our goal is to put in place processes so that we can reduce the difference between the daily raw click stats and the final monthly audited stats.

Q: Why not clicks from Asia and other regions? Does this mean those leads are not worth it? Does it matter where the clicks are coming from as long as there are sales at the other end? Are you keeping the resulting sales commissions but not paying us for those clicks because those clicks came from unsupported regions?

Our program is based on CPC (cost per click) and not based on a sales commission basis. We do not get paid for resulting sales. That said, needless to say, it is extremely important for the merchants to see the “bang for the buck” resulting from the clicks. Due to this, our merchants have chosen not to accept and pay for traffic from certain countries.

Q: Even if there are no sales, don’t you think there is a value associated to the branding? Technically we are sending leads to the merchants, but just because those leads came from certain regions it doesn’t mean that we should not get compensated.

We totally agree. Every lead (even if there is no resulting sale) has certain branding value. However, since this is a new program, to start with, we have merchants who are only interested in paying for leads from selected regions. As we continue to expand the program and establish this as a valuable marketing/sales channel to merchants, we believe that in the future we will be able to bring on board merchants who are interested in accepting and paying for clicks from all regions. Our goal is to be able to cater to leads from all over the world so that we can best help you monetize your website traffic from all regions. We are working on overcoming this challenge in a couple of ways:

  • Expand the program to regional locations and bring on board local merchants who are willing to accept and pay for clicks from those regions. We already completed launching eMiniMalls UK
  • Continue to work with our existing merchants and partners and convince them that our eMiniMalls program is bringing in high quality leads from all parts of the world and that it is worth paying for those leads.

Q. Are you accepting only one click per IP per day? What happens if the same user clicks on multiple merchant links?

Our click fraud detection system will track and detect abnormal activity in click patterns. It does not mean that we only accept one click per IP in a given day.

Q: Why are you not disclosing additional details on your fraud click rejection process?

In order to protect the quality of the program from potential fraudsters who will start resorting to automated click bots and scripts to work around our click rejection criteria and start abusing the system. That will directly result in decreasing the quality of the complete network and also will lead to merchants bailing out from the program, let alone upgrading their campaigns to also accept clicks from all regions.

Q: Regarding curiosity clicks: Last month Chitika suddenly decided to stop curiosity clicks? Every click has “branding value”, and Chitika got paid for those clicks but decided not to pay the clients. Is that true?

Since our merchant partners were not willing to pay for the clicks on product names, we decided to stop displaying links that will not earn revenue to you. Second, we are not getting paid for curiosity clicks either on the product title. In fact, the product title is not click able at all because we actually removed the link from the product name. Why introduce a non-revenue earning link when we cannot compensate the publishers for the resulting leads? If we can bring on board merchants who are interested in recognizing the “branding value” for the product title clicks, we will update the units accordingly so that you can earn more revenue.

Q. Is this it? Or are you exploring any other options to address this issue with “curiosity clicks”? You reduced the number of click able links on the main unit by removing the links to the product title and the product image.

We are currently exploring a number of options like:

  • Make the product name and image click able but resulting in displaying additional product information in the eMiniMalls unit directly without taking the visitor away from the website.
  • Point the link to a landing page with additional product related information and then list paid merchant links on that page. Follow on clicks on that page will earn revenue but not the first click that leads the visitor to the landing page.
  • Introduce different pricing for merchant links and product title links.

Q: Can we expect to see any other options in eMiniMalls in the near future?

Yes. We are working hard to improve the targeting options in the eMiniMalls. Right now, if the system cannot find a result for the selected keyword, it relies on network wide default products and will display a random product. We are working on introducing the ability for publishers to set a default category. The system will first try to find the matching results for the selected keyword, and when there are no results it will rely on the pre-selected category to find a matching product. Also, the expansion into Europe is going to continue.

Alternate URL feature released

eMiniMalls now supports Alternate URL feature. The alternate URL feature allows you to make use of your ad space in the event that Chitika is not able to show a paying eMiniMall ad (for example: traffic from non-accepted countries). In such an event, the Chitika system will redirect to the url you specify.

More Information:

  • Using Alternate URL in eMiniMalls [Link].

Chitika expands into Europe

eMiniMalls UK is now live! Geo-targeting is on, so visitors from UK can now expect to see merchandising offers from UK merchants, while visitors from US will continue to see US offers and promotions. Next stop Paris. We are ready with offers and promotions feeds from several other European countries. Over the next week we will be expanding the service to the following countries: France, Germany, Denmark, Belgium, Italy, Spain, Norway, Sweden, and Netherlands.