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Find The Boots

Rantings from a few corporate types about life, technology, travel, guns, politics, and everything good in the world.

A Few Pointers for Chitika

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Can anyone really afford to turn down business in this day and age?

I have a small project website that I've been developing on the side. It covers a niche market and it's a subject I like to talk about.

I've complained in the past about how Google adwords doesn't produce much revenue, so I decided to experiment with a few other services. I'm particularly interested in sites that use keywords to drive their ads instead of looking at the context as Google does. After a long search, I came across Chitika, which purports to be "the #1 Blog$ Company." I'm not sure what that means, but it was definitely worth a try. So I signed my little, new site up for their service.

I was a little more than shocked to receive the following in my inbox several days ago:
Thank you for your online submission. We have reviewed your website.

Unlike traditional banner and text-based advertising programs our merchandising-based Chitika | eMiniMalls program typically works best with established sites that contain exclusive authoritative content.

Based on past experience we found that our eMiniMalls program works best with (but not limited to) websites that have:
- significant traffic, preferably more than 10,000 impressions per month
- rich in content that relates to product merchandising, i.e., product reviews, product-centric discussions etc.
- family friendly content in English
- target audiences from US, Canada, UK, France, Sweden, Germany, Denmark, Australia, New Zealand, Belgium, Italy, Netherlands, and Spain. As we expand our merchant base we will be able to cater to traffic from other regions as well in the future.

Also, in order to properly determine the effectiveness that our Chitika | eMiniMalls will have when placed on a particular site we need to see all content. Therefore, we cannot accept sites that are new or under construction.

(***PLEASE NOTE*** all of the above stated reasons may or may not pertain to your website. The above list summarizes the set of representative factors that are taken into consideration during the review process.)

In an effort to bring value to our publishers, we carefully consider each submission. During our review process we have determined that Chitika | eMiniMalls might not be a good match for your website.

We wish you the best of luck in monetizing your website, and thank you again for your interest in Chitika | eMiniMalls.

Chitika Customer Service
Chitika, Inc. - Turning Page Views into Profits
I was fairly shocked. The blog isn't of an adult or even controversial nature. Yes, it's new, but there wasn't any reason someone wouldn't want their service carried on it, especially a new company competing with Google. It's already indexed by Google and has some strong PR5 links coming in. About half the blog entries are product reviews, so you'd think they'd be interested. Getting customers into a startup is pretty darn hard, so I'm impressed that they feel they can walk away from business. Or Not.

A little research on the company reveals that they're a four year old startup founded by Lycos engineers. They may be technically proficient, but they're a little lacking on the business side. In fact, they seem to be hitting a few bumps in the road. Well, Chitika, since you're obviously a little new at this game of business, I've got a few pointers for you:

1) What exactly is your marginal cost of adding a customer? A record in a database? Or are you afraid that you might receive ad loads from the sites? But wait, if you're getting traffic then that's a good thing, right? The cost of a non-performing site can't be more than $0.10/year. You spent more than that having someone review the site to turn it down.

2) You never know who you're talking to. Remember the story of the Harvard President who left a farmer and his wife waiting in his lobby for hours until they left on their own? They just wanted to talk to him so they could make a donation. Instead, they endowed Stanford. Turning down a site because "it's new" just runs the risk of garnering ill will from someone with a lot of other sites.

3) There's a reason companies advertise to kids. The products you use when you're young tend to be what you stay with. The cost of changing to a new product for a business is non-zero. If you think you're going to be able to poach successful and established sites from the advertisers they've already formed relationships with, you're in for a shock. My guess is the money will run out long before you figure this out.

4) Everybody has 10 friends. If you make someone happy, they might tell 1 or 2. If you make them mad, they'll tell everybody they know. Social networking has completely changed this. Witness the Jericho phenomenon -- these small groups of people were able to find each other, coordinate, and make a lot of noise. So in this new era, it's not 10 friends. In this case, the "nobody" blog owner you dis'd had another blog with thousands of daily readers.

5) Google sees everything. FTB gets indexed almost every day, and if our articles get picked up on Digg it's within the hour.

In the words of William H. Bonney: "Yoohoo. I'll make you famous!"


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