Black Thursday for Chitika eMiniMalls Publishers

Chitika eMinimalls has been a bit of a darling with profiteering bloggers since its launch. A few recent developments however suggest that the honeymoon may be over.

I first raised my eyebrows when the Chitika team took steps to lower CTR so advertisers wouldn’t have to pay for “curiosity clicks” (a “curiosity clicker” being one who checks out the product, but doesn’t buy). As far as I’m concerned, that move was highly questionable. After all, their competitor, Adsense, pays you for every click, and encourages you to take steps to increase CTR–so what it missing with Chitika? Besides, a pair of eyeballs is worth something, even if they don’t take out their credit card–ever heard of “branding” or “product research”? If I’m only getting paid for immediate buyers, I might as well put in affiliate links, as they pay a bit better.

But another thorn in my side has been how they handle auditing (hint: it takes waaaay too long). Well today appears to be Black Thursday for bloggers using the program. Jennifer Slegg has the scoop:

In a thread at DigitialPoint, it didn’t take long to see the full extent of just how significant these audits actually were. One publisher saw one day’s income drop from $28.02 to $3.05 and saw similar drops on other days. Publishers are reporting drops anywhere from 10% to as high as 60% of revenue cut.

And over at SitePoint, the news gets even worse. In a thread there, several publishers report their income being audited by 70% or more… with one publisher reporting he lost 90% of his income in the audit.

Getting an ad network up and running (with sustainable growth) is a monumental task, and it doesn’t surprise me that eMiniMalls is having issues. Even with these issues, they’ve come a lot farther than any other recent second tier ad network, and for that, I commend them. My question is, will they do what they need to do to work these things out and become a major player?