So I have long been very interested in Chitika, the website ad service that only shows for search traffic and not your usual viewers. You can read my earlier review here. I’ve been playing with/reviewing a few different Google ad alternatives on this blog and this was one of the ones I had a lot of hope for. After all, who wouldn’t want to show ads only to search traffic but let your regular readers check out the site with no advertising? It sounds like really good stuff and I love the idea.

But they changed their policies recently opting all existing ads into their premium service (which shows for non-search traffic as well as search traffic) which annoyed me but turned out to be a moot point since they didn’t approve any of my sites for premium anyway. Sure, if you sign up today you get to pick whether you want to advertise to search traffic only or not but as an existing user, that move really irked me. Why not let me opt in instead of forcing me to opt out?

But I had put a few little Chitika ads here and there to try them out on this site and they weren’t performing very well but I was fine with that as I was just testing them out. They were an experiment more than anything. I also found their customer service to be very good. I asked a question about them once on Twitter and not only got a reply right away but was welcomed into a beta program to try out some new stuff. They seemed like a good company to work with.

Then they went ahead and ticked me off. Here is a screenshot of my website before I removed all Chitika ads.

If you click on it, it’ll open larger in a new window so you can see it better.

Firstly, on the top left of this screenshot, you’ll see some Chitika ads. They are hilariously irrelevant to anything on the site as they are for finding an apartment and a London Broil Sandwich both of which have unrelated photos next to their links. But let’s talk about the banner ads on the right hand side. The one with the orange shirted lady is from Google, nothing wrong there. The one next to it, that disastrous mess of random links is from Chitika. It says Chitika AdCloud underneath it.

The problem? Well there is already an ad there from a competing service I’ve been trying out called Adbrite. Chitika took it upon itself to just completely cover up and obscure the Adbrite ad, Bogart-ing the space entirely. This is Not Cool with capitals N and C. Especially since I get better results with Adbrite than I have ever gotten with Chitika. Their action could have cost me my Adbrite account as covering up ads is against their Terms of Service. (It literally covered up the Adbrite ad, the “Your Ad Here” on the bottom is part of the Adbrite banner.)

I wanted to give them the benefit of the doubt so I checked my Adbrite account, maybe I had set Chitika ads to display in some cases. But no, I hadn’t. The funny thing is that all those keywords are the top keywords that bring people to my site so I guess their logic is in the right place, though they’d have to work pretty hard to create an uglier, less appealing ad.

But just covering my other advertising with ads for your service is unacceptable. I went ahead and stripped all the Chitika ads from this site. I’m leaving them up on a few of my other websites for now until I have a chance to get to the bottom of this but I’d love to hear from Chitika about whether this was just some horrible glitch or whether they actually thought this was a good idea.

But the ad on the side went back to being good ole Adbrite as soon as I removed the Chitika ads so no harm done there.