Chitika Launches Automatic-Merchandising Ads

Contextual advertising service provider Chitika plans today to unveil its new “eMiniMall,” an advertising format that allows marketers to spotlight particular merchandise, targeted by site.

“eMiniMalls connects consumers with items catered to their interests and publishers with a valuable revenue stream,” said Venkat Kolluri, CEO and co-founder of Chitika.

The unit, which is available in a variety of standard banner ad sizes, lets advertisers display contextually targeted products along with comparative shopping and recommendations from Shopping.com. Each unit also contains a search box.

Publishers can choose keywords to describe their sites, or let Chitika target the ads based on the site’s content. Chitika also uses a behavior-based feedback loop to serve a product based on what draws the best response on each particular Web site.

“Chitika’s eMiniMalls distinguishes itself by delivering a unique solution that creates a contextual product match for publishers, presenting the product that best suits a user’s needs,” said Josh Wetzel, director of business development at Shopping.com. “We believe that eMiniMalls has the opportunity to capture online merchandising the way AdSense did contextual advertising”

Chitika sells its ads using a cost-per-click (CPC) model. Publishers are paid a 60-percent share of the revenue earned through ads on their site. The service has been in beta since last month, with Upromise as the first live customer.

“Where typical banner ads will get a 0.5-percent clickthrough rate, we saw a 1.0-percent CTR with our beta clients,” Kolluri said.

Chitika’s other services include the RealContext and BlogContext ad distribution services. The company does not run an ad network itself, but rather has distribution deals with 10 networks to sell ads within their inventory, including Miva, LookSmart, 7search and eXact Advertising. Chitika layers in its contextual targeting technology to determine which ad to show. The RealContext service is aimed at site publishers, and BlogContext for blog publishers, offering ads on the blog site as well as in an RSS feed.

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