A while ago we decided to place ads on our website. We hoped to earn some money so our website would be self-financing and maybe earning a little bit more which we could reinvest into the site. As with many websites, we were rejected by Google AdSense for having a login. So we were looking for an alternative to Google AdSense. We decided to try out the ad provider Chitika. Chitika seemed to be a serious and large company with big advertisers such as Amazon and they have a partnership with Yahoo!. In addition Chitika won several awards and claims to be the second biggest ad provider after Google AdSense. For these reasons we chose to give Chitika a try.

Our first impression of Chitika was quite positive as we were accepted in less than 24 hours and it was easy to integrate the necessary JavaScript into our website. But unfortunately these things and the quick and polite answers of the Chitika Support (even the Chitika Support could not resolve our issues) are the only good things we can say about Chitika after our experience.

We immediately noticed that the provided ads slowed our website down extremely. Occasionally the ads were broken which caused the page to load for a relatively long time before finally timing out and displaying an error page (this would have been difficult to prevent on our end since the ad consisted of an iframe which contained yet another iframe and this inner iframe was the problem). Putting that aside, the content of the ads had no similarity to our content and was therefore often not relevant to our users. So, not only did we have to deal with the problem that most of our users use AdBlock and NoScript, but even when the ads showed up they were hardly attractive to the user.

Another thing what bothered us is that Chitika only pays for clicks which come from the following countries: United States, Canada, United Kingdom including Great Britain, Germany, Italy, Spain, Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, Sweden and India. Nevertheless, Chitika shows ads anyway to the users which are from other countries not listed, however their clicks will not count. So quite often we were advertising for free, as clicks from most people in this world are invalid.

But the biggest issue we had was that clicks appeared to not be counted at all. First we thought that the reasons that we had no clicks was that our users were simply not interested at all in the provided ads as they were just not the right target group for the displayed ads. We stand in close contact with many of our users who are from all around the world and with some we even chat daily, so it didn't take long until some users mentioned that they noticed the ads on the site and told us that they clicked on a few. But this was contrary to what the daily Chitika report was saying. Even after about ten users mentioned that they clicked on the ads (we don't know if they were really interested in the ad or just wanted to support us) Chitika still reported that we don't have clicks. These users were all from supported countries and the only difference between them and our other users or to any other user who visits a website was that we chatted once in a while with them. Since after some days we still didn't have a single click reported by Chitika we contacted their support. We would like to reiterate that the customer service representative we communicated with was very polite and he tried hard to assist us and he was very quick to respond, however in the end things just didn't work out.

Here is the email correspondence: (Note that names have been censored for privacy)

Us:
Hi,
According to the reports we have had zero clicks so far, but I'm quite sure that there should be some clicks because a few of my members mentioned that they noticed the new ads and clicked on a few of them.
Could it be that somehow something is misconfigured? I just copy/pasted the provided javasript on my site and claimed my domain; was there something else that needed to be done?
Regards,
XXXXX
Chitika Support:
Hi XXXXX,
Thanks for reaching out. The amount paid per click and impression varies on several factors including the quality of traffic clicking/viewing your ads and the quality of ads being served. If you are experiencing low earnings I recommend looking into methods on increasing the traffic you receive. The industry standard for 1 click is for every 1000 impressions. This is just an average but it used to show you what kind of traffic you may need to generate good revenue. 
To earn via impressions you will need to accumulate 1000+ display impressions. Display ads can be activated in your account settings. More information here: link to their website.
I hope this helps!
Us:
Hi Chitika Support,
I think you've misunderstood my question. My problem isn't with the amount of earnings, but with the number of clicks that were recorded. It says there were zero clicks, but there should be at least a couple.
Regards,
XXXXX
Chitika Support:
Hi,
I'm sorry for the confusion. We are experiencing a change in advertisers for your traffic sources. We are working on resolving the issue as quickly as possible to better monetize on your site. Clicks are tracking correctly, this issue lies in limited advertising options for international traffic at this time.
Thank you for your patience!
Us:
Hi Chitika Support,
You stated that the clicks are being correctly tracked, however this cannot be the case since users have clicked on the links and yet there are zero recorded clicks. Clearly these clicks were not tracked. Either that or they were just not properly reported on my dashboard. Is there a way we can verify right now whether clicks are being tracked?
Regards,
XXXXX
Chitika Support:
Hi XXXXX,
I just looked at some advanced reporting and I do not see any clicks made. It is possible that our advertisers had invalidated the clicks you are referring to due to low quality traffic.
Sorry for the inconvenience.
Us:
Hi Chitika Support,
If that is the case, then how can I ensure that the traffic is not considered "low quality"? I don't particularly want to continue advertising for people for free. 
I'm not really sure how feasible it is though that they were all invalidated since the clicks came from multiple users in different parts of the world to different ads. How can this be that they were all invalidated?
Can we conduct a test somehow where you or I click on one of these links and see if the click is tracked?
Regards,
XXXXX
Chitika Support:
Hi XXXXX,
This is likely connected to our "change in advertisers" issue that is going on. I recommend waiting it out a few days because we are adding new advertising options soon for your traffic regions. Clicks are starting to occur for users that were reporting the same issue from a couple days ago.
I hope this helps
Us:
Hi Chitika Support,
I don't exactly understand this "change in advertisers" issue, especially since one of the pretty common advertisers that shows up for me is Amazon which should be pretty reliable I would think. Additionally, I'm confused about why I need special advertisers in my region since my site is an English site with an American top-level domain.
So far I'm not very satisfied with this service. Is it possible that you inform me once this issue is resolved so I can disable the ads until that time? I don't want to be sending traffic to advertisers when they're going to cheat me and claim they received no referrals. 
Also, I would still like to test whether this could be a technical issue as well before waiting for the advertisers to change. Is this possible?
Regards,
XXXXX
Chitika Support:
Hi,
I can inform you when the issue has resolved itself and it is a better time to test Chitika ads on your site. In regards to this being a technical issue. I see other accounts getting clicks on their site. Please send me your site URL and I will take a closer look at your ads.
Best regards
Us:
Hi Chitika Support,
The ad should be appearing towards the bottom if this page currently: http://halls-of-valhalla.org/index.php
If you click on something could you please inform me so that I can also check my reports?
Regards,
XXXXX
Chitika Support:
Thanks,
I see that the ad is performing correctly. Unfortunately I cannot click on the ads in the office as our systems prevent self clicking. I see that your ads have paid out via CPM for yesterday. 
Regards
Us:
Hi Chitika Support,
Would it be allowed then to ask a friend to make a test click to see if the click is tracked?
Regards,
XXXXX
Chitika Support:
Hi XXXXX,
I will allow this for this circumstance. 
Best

One day later a click was reported but not paid. This click was not our test click. The test click happened 4 days later, and this one was not recorded.

Us:
Hi Chitika Support,
As we discussed, we had a user perform a test click on one of our ads on the 9th of December at about 8:50 a.m. CET. This click was coming from Germany which is one of the accepted countries, and the ad was titled "Answered Question". The user has also given us his IP address if that information is relevant. However, this click was not tracked. Any idea why this could be?
Regards,
XXXXX
Chitika Support:
Hi XXXXX,
Sorry for the inconvenience. Our advertiser must have invalidated the click for a reason, flagging it as an invalid click. Please send me the URL of your site so i can take a look at your settings.
Thank you
Us:
Hi Chitika Support,
The ad should be appearing towards the bottom if this page currently: http://halls-of-valhalla.org/index.php
If you click on something could you please inform me so that I can also check my reports?
Regards,
XXXXX
Chitika Support:
Hi,
I went ahead and upgraded your domain so it can receive higher quality ads, hopefully bringing in more clicks. Unfortunately I cannot test click the ads on my end either, because I am in the Chitika office where clicks do not count. Please also note that our display ads do not count clicks as they are CPM ads only. I recommend waiting a few days and see how the new improved ad quality effects your performance.
Best regards

We strongly got the feeling that something is wrong, so we asked our users to report to us directly, if they clicked on an ad by submitting the time they clicked on it, their IP, and which ad it was. Even after more than 50 clicks were reported by users Chitika just showed the one click (which they thought was the test-click) in the report. We discontinued our service for Chitika after a month. In this time we made 4 cents through a very few ads which were paid by CPM.

So to the question: "Is Chitika cheating?" We really don't know it. Everything they do is so extremely intransparent that you don't know if they have a serious technical issue or if they just plain rip you off. But we are certain that this intransparency has system and is intentional by the company. We really gave Chitika a chance and we are sad that we have to say: We absolutely can not recommend Chitika!