Banner ads just seem to get deader and deader every day. A young upstart company called “Chitika” has just supplied the eulogy and a few sharp coffin nails to the once hot banner ads of the 1990’s. Chitika goes far beyond the static banner ad concept and into the world of contextual advertising made popular by the Google AdSense program introduced in 2003. The antithesis of the pop-up ad, contextual advertising from Chitika targets the content of the page on which the ad is placed, then displays advertising relevant to that page’s topic. If your visitors are pouring over an article about MP3 audio technology, they won’t see an ad for cosmetics. You can guess what they will see!
Who is Chitika?
The sexy sounding name Chitika (pronounced CHIH-tih-ka) has nothing to do with bananas. Chitika was created by Venkat Kolluri (formerly of Upromise) and Alden DoRosario (formerly with Terra Lycos). The company appeared out of nowwhere in May 2003 to become a leading player in the emerging industry of contextual advertising. Chitika announced the release of eMiniMalls in June of 2005.
What is Chitika eMiniMalls?
Chitika eMiniMalls is described a million different ways on the Chitika web site and by enthusiastic webmasters. Among them are “Interactive merchandising service” and the “intelligent and interactive online product merchandising kiosks.” The creative term, “eMinimalls” does a great job of describing the service for everyone. To the webmaster, Chitika eMiniMalls is a snippet of code placed on a site that can target ads to the content and pay each time the ad is clicked by a visitor. To the web site visitor, Chitika eMiniMalls is an interactive informative ad related to the page being viewed.
The eMiniMalls Ad
What makes the Chitika eMiniMalls ads so irrestably clickable is it’s visual appeal, content and functionality. Part graphical, part textual and part interactive, the eMiniMalls ad scarcely resembles a traditional banner ad. The lightweight eMiniMall “ad unit” presents viewers with options for whatever buying stage they happen to be in via mouseover tabs. The effect is to pack a enough information inside the ad unit–product description, graphic, and review along with comparative shopping info and search box–that the potential buyer gets something userful without having to leave the site. The eMiniMalls ad gives a much more endearing user experience than static text links or graphic ads that fire off a quick sales pitch and call to action. With the mouseover tabs, the user doesn’t even have to make the commitment of a mouse click to get some benefit.
What About the Performance?
Chitika eMiniMalls promises to “outshine static banner ads” and give webmasters the power to “generate revenue beyond banner advertising.” Got a low performing, high traffic Google AdSense site? Run a split test and see which one performs better. Performance will vary depending on the types of site conten, ad inventory and bid prices. Chitika eMiniMalls ads can be displayed on the same page with Google AdSense ads if the contextual function is turned off with a line of code (ch_non_contextual = 1;). This is currently the the default.
At the time of this writing, webmasters are paid 60% of ad revenue generated. Webmasters tend to appreciate the disclosure of the payout percentage. Chitika makes payments 30 days after month end in US Dollars to the a publisher’s PayPal account once the balance reaches $50. Webmasters can run Chitika eMinimalls on mulitple web sites as long as the terms and conditions are met.
We’ve come a long way from banner ads. Who’s looking back!