When publishers first joined Chitika’s eMiniMalls and saw the fact that Chitika would be auditing revenue, many publishers were not alarmed. AdSense has this as well, and I only know of a handful of publishers who have ever had their monthly income audited, and they were mainly for obvious click attacks. So I saw no reason to worry over audited income, and if I expected to see audited income, I would expect a drop in the 2% or maybe as high as 5% range.
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.
I saw a cut in my earnings from my own ad displays of about 15%. And I lost well over HALF of my referral revenue for the month of October. And since I was running the referral program for nearly all of October (instead of just since the 18th, like most publishers) it isn’t just 14 days I saw half my revenue cut but rather it was 26 days of promoting Chitika in October that I lost over half my income on. And I suspect I will see the same for November as well.
You also have to wonder exactly what they are auditing for? Did they drop every click that didn’t convert into a sale? If so, that is definitely not what publishers signed up for. But with so many publishers reporting such high % of revenue being audited, it is a possibility.
I also suspect it is likely that Chitika knew audits were going to be this drastic when they released the newly designed ad units on November 16th. They should have started to release audited figures then, even if they were unable to release the entire month’s audits. This would have given publishers more time to prepare for the fact that the payments they were expecting to be issued yesterday (as per net 30 terms) would be less than expected, rather than finding out last night when the updated figures were finally released.
The other thing that hurt publishers with this is that they took a full 30 days after the end of the month of October to release audited revenue numbers. And I suspect many publishers would have removed Chitika from their sites if they had known that ad space would only be worth half as much as what they expected. And now publishers are looking at the fact they have promoted Chitika (both for referrals and by running ad units) for the entire month of November without knowing the true impact of the audits and wondering just how much of that effort will be wasted when audits are finally completed on November earnings at the end of December.
And it is also the holiday season, I suspect that many publishers were counting on that income for holiday spending. And for some publishers, losing 50 or even 90 percent of their expected earnings could add up to some pretty significant dollars for some publishers.
Also, I have not heard of any publisher being paid yet. And since most publishers receive payments via PayPal and on net 30 terms, publishers should have been receiving PayPal payments already. So one also has to wonder if there is a delay in getting those audited earnings to customers. But when I double checked on the net 30 terms in the Chitika Terms, I was reminded of this clause:
Chitika will not be responsible for any payments to Client until payment has been collected from Chitika’s advertisers.
Could this be the reason no one has received a payment yet?
All in all, this audited income fiasco is a huge disappointment for publishers. And I have to wonder if the many people who dropped AdSense for Chitika now find that Chitika really was the more profitable one now that audits have been done. And more than a few publishers on the forums are already stating they are dropping Chitika after seeing these drasticly reduced audited income reports. And I don’t blame them. Seeing half my income go is giving me second thoughts as well.