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This is an index of all documents at this site.

This page contains general information about HitExchange. If you are a first-time visitor, we suggest you begin with the Quick Tour, which describes our services in detail.
1. What is a banner exchange?

A banner exchange is a network of web sites that advertise for one another using banners like the one above. A central server stores and displays the banners for everyone. When a user clicks on a banner, the server sends the user to the correct site.

2. How much does it cost?

FREE! Your site displays other members' banners. In return they display your banner at their web sites. This exchange is free, no strings attached. If you are still suspicious, then please read the next question.

3. Take the Quick Tour

To learn more about our services, please take the Quick Tour.

4. Free? What's the catch?

Most banner exchanges will tell you that there is no catch for using their service, but that's not true. They make money by advertising paid clients at your site. The following example will show you the extent of this exploitation.

Consider a banner exchange with 10,000 members and an exchange ratio of 2-to-1. If every member displays 10 banners today, then the total banner impressions will be 100,000. But the banner exchange only owes each member 5 impressions, which leaves the operator with 50,000 impressions to sell.

The typical advertising rate is $500 for 50,000 banner impressions. Everyday the banner exchange is able to make that much money from its members' web sites, which include yours. In one month, the figure accrues to $15,000! And when no one buys the extra impressions, banner exchanges advertise themselves.

How is HitExchange different? For starters, we don't have a fixed exchange ratio. We distribute our extra banner impressions to our members. Your site won't advertise any banners for non-members. You won't even see banners advertising HitExchange. Only members can advertise at your site. Period.

We make money by selling a small amount of hit credits to members. Normally members earn hit credits when visitors click on the banners being displayed at their site. With more hit credits, a member can receive more of the extra banner impressions we distribute. But nobody can have a monopoly in the distribution -- no matter how many hit credits they buy.

There is one small catch, but it is for us, not for you. If our members don't buy enough hit credits, then we will lose money on the inherent costs of operating and maintaining our service. But we're not complaining. HitExchange is built upon customer satisfaction, and that's one thing we won't sell out, not even for profit.

5. What about other banner exchanges?

If the above answer doesn't convince you, then perhaps our detailed comparison between HitExchange and three other well-known banner exchanges will. We not only give back to our members more impressions, we also offer more features.

6. Recent Statistics

On our home page, you can see our 7-day summary report of banner statistics, which often shows the majority of members receiving exchange ratios of 1.00 and greater. How is this possible?

The reason is simple. We are fortunate enough to attract many popular sites. You can see their exact impression counts on our Top Ten List. Although these sites' exchange ratios are lower than 1.00, they remain in our program because we deliver to them more visitors than other banner exchanges. It's a testament to the power of a truly cooperative banner exchange. Everyone benefits regardless of their existing traffic volume.

Another reason is the HitExchange web site. We don't advertise HitExchange at our members' sites, yet our site displays banners for members. Our site contributes to the total number of banner impressions without drawing it.

New members also contribute in the same way. Before membership is approved, their sites already display banners for other members.

7. Advertising Rate

Non-members may advertise at the HitExchange web site itself, but only members may advertise in the banner network. Go to this page for more details.

8. Company Info

HitExchange was launched in retaliation to the unfair practices of other banner exchanges, who exploit their members for financial gain.

We served our first banner on August 24, 1998, but the preparation began four months earlier. To date, we have poured countless hours in the design, programming, and refinement of this banner exchange. Our work and efforts converge on this one goal: to provide the most honest and fair banner exchange on the Internet.

Our Mission Statement

HitExchange is committed to member satisfaction. We place top priority in serving and assisting our members because our success depends on their success. With every new member, we move closer to an all-expansive banner exchange that links the world to your fingertips.

Staff Roster

Photo Album
Andy Lee ..... Webmaster, Programmer, Founder
Alexa Apallas ..... Membership Supervisor
Holly Brickley ..... Content Manager
Kenneth Frankel ..... Database Specialist
Flavia Berys ..... Executive Editor
Lo-An Le ..... Contributing Editor
Cathy McCall ..... Contributing Editor
Dan Candela ..... Contributing Programmer
Masami Teramoto ..... Web Consultant


April 1998 - Andy discovered the truth about banner exchanges.
June 18, 1998 - OpenDebate mentioned in the New York Times.
August 24, 1998 - Beta testing began.

9. Contact Us

We welcome your comments and suggestions. As we are often overwhelmed by the volume of incoming emails and correspondence, please be patient while awaiting our reply.

Email Addresses:

General Inquiries:
Sales and Advertising:
Bug Reports:

Mailing Address:

HitExchange c/o Idealicus Technologies
P.O. Box 6182
Irvine, CA 92616


FAX: (310)388-1024
Due to limited personnel, we do not offer voice support at this time.

Members: Please use your account's Memo Desk page to communicate with us.

HitExchange Rulebook

  1. Terms of Use
  2. Banner Display Rules
  3. Penalties for Rules Violation
  4. Rewards for Reporting Violation

10. New Site Submission

The Hot! Directory is our member's directory. To be listed you must join HitExchange. The directory also contains some honorary members who are chosen by our staff for their excellence. But you may not request to be considered for it.

The directory shows members who are currently active. New members are not listed until approved by our staff. And when an existing member is put on hold for more than 3 days, the site will be delisted until it becomes active again. Terminated or suspended accounts (e.g. account placed on hold for rules violation) are immediately delisted.

11. How are the categories organized?

The categories are organized in a hierarchical structure. At the top level the categories are broad, but each successive level becomes more specific. As the number of sites grows, we will further divide existing categories into deeper level of sub-categories. An abstract category is one that only contains sub-categories, such as those at the top level.

All commercial sites must be listed in the 'Business' category. We have two definitions for commercial sites: (1) the site represents the web presence of a company or corporation and (2) the site sells goods or services. Such commercial sites may list outside of 'Business' only when it offers free content.

12. What are Hot! sites?

HitExchange members vote to determine the Hot! site for each category. To be eligible to become a Hot! site, a member must be active (not on hold) and receives at least 50 votes. Ten Hot! sites are chosen every week in each category.

Once elected, the Hot! sites are featured on the front page of their categories. When someone enters a category, the Hot! sites will be seen first. Their 'Info' buttons become red to make them stand out in the listing. Non Hot! sites have blue 'Info' buttons. Even when Hot! sites are no longer Hot!, their 'Info' buttons will remain red for 30 more days.

13. How do I vote for Hot! sites?

To vote for Hot! sites, you must be an active HitExchange member. After you login, go to any category in Hot! Directory to begin voting. You have one vote per category. Browse through the member list and visit some of them.

When you are ready to vote, click on the Info button for that site. It will lead you to its profile page where the site's category listing has a Vote button next to each category. Click on one to cast your vote in that category. If you see a Switch Vote button instead of a Vote button, then you have already voted for another site in that category. Click on Switch Vote will change your vote to this site.

If you do not see the Vote or Switch Vote button, then you cannot vote for the site. Here are some possibilities: (1) the site is not an active member, e.g. it is on hold, suspended, or terminated, (2) the site is a honorary member, or (3) the site is already a Hot! site. Find another site in the same category to vote for.

Some restrictions are necessary to prevent swinging votes. You cannot vote for a site if it is already a Hot! site in that category. Once a site becomes a Hot! site, if you voted for it, then your vote is "locked in." You cannot change your vote until the site loses its Hot! site status.

14. Rewards for Voting

When you vote for a site and it later becomes a Hot! site, you will receive two hit credits as reward. With 300+ categories, you could earn a lot of hit credits this way. The votes are re-counted every Wednesday, but you don't need to re-vote every week. All votes are carried over from one week into the next, until you change or withdraw the vote, or if your site is delisted from the Hot! Directory.

Here are some fine prints to the election rewards. If a Hot! site's owner also voted for your site, then it is called "reciprocal voting" and you will not receive reward hit credits from it. We disallow it for obvious reasons - to prevent members from conspiring to vote for each other. Also, rewards are given only for the first time that a site becomes Hot!. If the site remains Hot! for the second week, you will not receive additional reward. And your vote in that category is locked in while the site remains Hot!.

You also do not receive the reward when a site is re-elected within 30 days of its previous Hot! status. However, it doesn't mean you should change your vote as soon as a site is no longer Hot!. Since it was voted Hot! once before, it may become Hot! again after 30 days, at which point you will receive more reward.

Tip: If you vote with genuine effort 3-4 times a year, you should be able to receive a steady stream of hit credits from your votes every month.

15. Search Tips

You may enter:

  • Account number, e.g. "HX100250"
  • Category code, e.g. "76" or "76-82"
  • Full URL, e.g. ""
  • Words to search for, e.g. "message board poll"

Words: Capitalization and common words are ignored, e.g. mEssAGE is the same as message, and the, a, he, and she are all ingored by the search engine. Words must contain at least 3 letters to become part of the search.

Exclusion: You may enter an exclamation mark "!" before a word to exclude it from the search. For example, enter "Disney !World movies" to find sites about Disney movies but exclude those that has "Disney World" in its title or description.

16. Forgotten Password or Account Number

If you forgot your account number or password, first check your e-mailbox. We send a welcome message to all new members when they join HitExchange. It contains the account number and password for the member. Perhaps you can still find yours.

If not, you may click on the 'Forgot' button on the menu bar, next to the 'Login' button. It will ask for your e-mail address to search in our databes, and then we will e-mail you the information.

17. Account "On Hold"

An account will be placed "On Hold" when we cannot or should not display the account's banners. For example, if a member's web site is down due to server problems, then displaying its banner is pointless since no one will be able to reach that site. Our server will monitor the situation and resume displaying banner for the site when it comes back on-line. We also place accounts on hold for rule violations.

Members should resolve their account's "On Hold" status as quickly as they can. We will not display their banners in our network in the mean time. After 3 days of being on hold, the member will be delisted from our Hot! Directory. After 45 days, your account will be cancelled.

18. Account Cancellation

If you wish to cancel your membership, simply remove the HitExchange banner from your site. This will cause your account to be placed on hold. Then it will be purged after 45 days.

19. How often will my banners be displayed?

How often will HitExchange display your banners at other sites? The answer depends on two factors: (1) the number of banners you display at your site and (2) the amount of hit credits in your account.

More banners you display at your site, more often HitExchange will display your banners at other sites. The minimum exchange ratio is 0.67, or 3-to-2, which means that for every three banners displayed at your site, the server will display your banner twice at other sites. The extra banner display (also called impression) is collected into a poll and distributed to members according to hit credits.

If you have a lot of hit credits, then you will receive more of the extra impressions. So even if you only display 3 banners at your site, we may display your banners 10 times at other sites. Generally speaking, if you have 8 hit credits or more, your exchange ratio will be at least 1.00.

20. Exchange Ratio Calculation

HitExchange uses a complex formula to calculate the exchange ratio for each member. Please see this page.

21. Earning Free Hit Credits

There are five ways to earn FREE hit credits:

  1. Click-thrus: You earn 0.8 of a hit credit when someone clicks on a banner being displayed at your site. To prevent members from generating unlimited hit credits for themselves, we give 50% less hit credits for each additional click by the same user at the same site.
  2. Charity: If a member has no hit credit for seven consecutive days, then on the eighth day we will give one hit credit to that member. Our goal is to send at least one visitor per week to every member.
  3. Hot! Site Voting: You earn two hit credits whenever you vote for a member who later becomes a Hot! site. Click here for details.
  4. Report Cheaters: Whenever you discover a member who violates our rules (usually in the way that banners are displayed), you can report the member to receive a reward of 5 or 10 hit credits. Click here for details.
  5. Member Referral: You can earn as many as 60 hit credits for each new member you refer to HitExchange. Click here for details.

A daily summary of your earnings is recorded on the Hit Credit page.

22. Purchasing Hit Credits

You can purchase hit credits at the following rate:

Option Description Cost
A   80 Hit Credits $20
B   225 Hit Credits $50 Save $6 ... 11%
C   500 Hit Credits $100 Save $25 ... 20%
D   1,500 Hit Credits $250 Save $125 ... 33%
E   3,250 Hit Credits $500 Save $313 ... 38%
F   7,000 Hit Credits $1,000 Save $750 ... 43%

To purchase hit credits, click here.

23. Hit Credits Deduction

Hit credits are deducted for click-thrus. For each visitor whom our server redirects to your site, one hit credit is deducted from your account. However, if your balance is at zero we will forego the deduction altogether.

Account Management

  1. Account Overview
  2. Memo Desk Page
  3. Profile Page
  4. Hit Credits Page
  5. Target & Filter Page
  6. Banners Page
  7. Banner Edit Page
  8. HTML Code Page

Tutorials & Articles

  1. HitExchange Quick Tour
  2. Banner Design Tips
  3. Web Site Design Tips
  4. Web Promotion Tips
  5. The Truth About Banner Exchanges
  6. Compare to Other Banner Exchanges
  7. Frequently Asked Questions

24. Why is my account on hold for "HTML Code Not Detected"?

Your Site URL and banner Click-Thru URL must prominently display a HitExchange banner or button as per Banner Display Rules. Our spider program periodically scans your site for our HTML code. During the last scan, it could not detect the code.

Click for a detailed diagnosis.

Your Site URL (and banner Click-Thru URL - if in use) must prominently display a HitExchange banner or button according to our Banner Display Rules. Our spider program periodically scans for their HTML codes within the first 20,000 characters of those pages. But during the last scan, it could not detect our HTML code.

The scan only looks at the first 20,000 characters because beyond this range, a prominent display of our button or banner is unlikely. As a matter of good design, all web pages should be kept within this limit anyway to minimize the load time.

You must copy our HTML code EXACTLY. This is the most common mistake for this hold. There should be no excess HTML tags in the code, such as <BR>, <B>, or <I>. Verify the HTML code from your browser using its "View -> Page Source" or "View -> Source" menu option.

Another possible cause is redirection. Your Site URL should not redirect to another URL. Web site owners often prefer short URL's because they are easier to remember and looks better on a business card. But the Site URL in your profile is almost never seen by other members. There is no need to use the shorten URL.

==> After you correct the problem, click here to request an immediate detection of the HTML code. This hold should be lifted if all is well. Otherwise our server will try the detection again every two hours.

25. My account isn't on hold, why did I receive an e-mail notice?

When your account is put on hold for more than 24 hours, our server will send you an e-mail notice. Usually the hold is placed by our spider program, which monitors all accounts for anomalies. The same spider program also removes the hold when an anomaly no longer exists. If you received the on-hold e-mail yet your account isn't on hold when you login to check it, then our spider program probably lifted the hold already.

26. Why is my exchange ratio falling below the minimum 0.67?

Almost all cases of low exchange ratios are caused by one or a combination of the following reasons. Please contact us should you need further assistance.

  • Account On Hold. While your account is on hold, we won't display your banners at other sites. This leads to low exchange ratios and a build up of unused impressions. See your Memo Desk page to resolve the hold.

  • Excess Unused Impressions. If your unused impressions are increasing everyday, then either your account is on hold (see above) or your target categories are set too narrowly (see unused impressions).

  • Cheating. We consider it cheating when members use special programs to repeatedly download banners from their web sites. If you do that, we will detect it and lower your exchange ratio to compensate for it.

  • Poor "At Your Site" CTR. Your site must prominently display HitExchange banners as per Rule #3. It should not show more than 160 banners per click-thru (CTR > 160:1) because our overall CTR is only 60:1.

    Some members contend that unattractive or uninteresting banners submitted by other members are the cause of the poor CTR's. But when we visit their sites, we discover our banners at unfavorable locations too.

    Our Banner Display Rules are only the bare minimum. Whenever there is a big difference between the "At Your Site" CTR and "Your Banners" CTR, you owe it to other members to improve their banners' visibility at your site:

    • Top of the Page. Move the HitExchange banner closer to the top of the page will improve its CTR, especially on a long page.

    • High Traffic Pages. High traffic pages won't yield good banner CTR's unless the banners are dispayled within the top 700x500 area.

    • Banners Only Pages. Please don't display our banner on pages that contains only banners. Such pages never generate good CTR's.

  • Your Banner CTR. If the CTR of your banner is poor (> 160:1), then our server will also lower your exchange ratio. It's your wake-up-call to re-design the banner or change its target categories for better results. See this page.

    In other click-thru based banner exchanges, a member could in theory create any ugly banner because it will be shown again and again until it is clicked. Banners like that will eventually drag down the entire network. We prevent it by penalizing bad banner designs.

27. Why isn't my banner being shown at other sites?

Is your account on hold? Look to the upper right corner of this page for a stat box. If it says "On Hold", click on its "Reasons" link to find out why. While your account is on hold, your banners will not be displayed at other sites.

Have you displayed banners for other members? If you site has not displayed banners for others, then your banners will not be shown. Even if you have unused active hit credits remaining in your account, your site must still actively show banners for other members in order to have them show your banners.

How is your target categories? Poor targeting can work against you. For example, if you target only one category and it contains very few sites, then your banners will be displayed less often or not at all. Try adding more targets or clear them completely, so your banner could be displayed at more sites.

Please contact us if your situation is not covered here.

28. Is the clicks for "At Your Site" accurate?
We will stop counting clicks altogether after the third click.

Sometimes a member will ask friends to click on the banners, thinking they could generate hit credits that way. Or the member will try to login under different names and perform the clicks himself. These attempts are illegal and won't work.

We implement many countermeasures to monitor and stop fictitious click-thrus. One of the natural protection we discovered (and utilized) is the proxy servers for major ISP's such as AOL and WebTV. Here is an example. If you are an AOL user, we will treat a click from your friend across town as the same as your own because two of you probably share the same proxy server.

We cannot divulge all of our secrets in these countermeasures, although we do acknowledge in some rare cases that click-thrus are missed. However, they are more likely to work against members who attempt to generate hit credits illegally. So we deem these missed click-thrus as acceptable.

29. How can "Your Banners" have 1 Click but 0 Shown?

Sometimes you may see 1 click for "Your Banners" in the summary stat even though no banner has been shown. This is not an error. The Clicks column includes referrals from our Top Ten List and Hot! Directory. A visitor could click-thru to your site from HitExchange without seeing your banner.

You can conduct a test to see this for yourself. At midnight Pacific Standard Time, our server will reset the daily stats. So look up your site in the Hot! Directory and click on its listing. This will take you to your site. In your Account Overview page you will see the click being registered, yet none of your banners was shown.

30. How do I improve the CTR of "Your Banners"?

First of all, consider the total number of times that your banners have displayed. It is probably not statistically significant when that number is less than 1,000. Also, you should look at combined stats of several days instead of one specific day.

If the CTR of "Your Banners" is indeed poor, then your banners probably need some make-overs. Start by reading our Banner Design Tips page. It contains helpful hints and links for making a better banner. You can also ask other members to critique your banners in our Discussion Forum.

Another reason for poor CTR is the target categories. Once in a while you should clear all targets to advertise your banner on all sites. Then from the Hit Credit page, you can observe which sites are sending visitors to your site and set your target to those sites only. The best performing target categories may surprise you. Reference Glossary

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