Chitika Goes Berserk, Serves Up Worst Ads Ever
I saw something very strange when I looked at Digital Home Thoughts this morning. Well, to be accurate, I heard something strange; a beeping sound that was coming from something on the Digital Home Thoughts page. I closed a few other tabs in Firefox to isolate the problem, and it was indeed a banner ad that was making the beeping sound. I isolated it and figured out it was coming from Chitika - now what's strange here is that I had only configured Chitika to display their "eMiniMall" ads, which are interactive image and text-based ads that show you low process for certain products, and "RPU" units, which are related product links that appear at the bottom of our archive page.
What I'm seeing instead is best described by an email I received a few minutes ago:
"Jiggly, beeping "you've won a prize" scams seem out of character for any of Jason's sites...The half naked, in heat (butt in the air) blonde cougar singles ad was quite the addition to your Dragon laptop article, especially given the use of the term "ass-whupping" in the article...Ads with the wrong format for the frame (square jiggly beeping ad in the tower Ads by Google blue box on the right hand side), so it is half hidden. And the square ads by Google area at the top right is serving a skyscraper ad, so one can barely make out what it is for."
I couldn't have said it better myself. So, in short, completely irritating and inappropriate ads are being served up across all four Thoughts Media sites. I've seen this on other sites as well today, and the other Web site owners I've talked with are just as frustrated as I am. I noticed that some of the ads were loading with "500 Internal Server Errors", so I was wondering if this is some larger issue and Chitika has been hacked. This morning when I started seeing this I emailed my contact at Chitika. It's been a few hours and I haven't heard back, so I phoned him - no response yet. I've just phoned the general Chitika publisher support line and left a voicemail - I'm hoping someone will respond to me quickly. If I don't get back a response by tomorrow AM, and this is still continuing, I'm going to pull all Chitika code from my templates. I'd do that now if it was a quick and easy process, but it's not and so I'll ask you to put up with these stupid ads for just a bit longer.
Chitika had better have a really good explanation of all this for me!
UPDATE: Well, I just had a 50 minute phone call with my Chitika representative, and the short version is that this morning they switched on their banner ads for people outside of their "supported countries", which included Canada. This meant that instead of seeing the Chitika text ads, we saw banners - and Chitika partnered with a banner company that seemingly had the bottom of the barrel in terms of quality ads. So basically it was just us Canucks that saw these silly ads. Consider yourself lucky rest-of-world. ;-) Steps have been taken to ensure that as of tomorrow AM, Chitika will not display any banners to anyone.