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AdSense Change Rules – Stupidity Stupidity Stupidity

Posted By Darren Rowse 9th of January 2008 Adsense 0 Comments

The AdSense blog has just announced changes to the AdSense referral program which I’m pretty disappointed in. In fact they anger me and leave me disillusioned with AdSense.

There are two changes:

1. Changes to Payment System

The ‘experimental’ payment system for publishers promoting AdSense is being changed back to the way it was before it was changed a year ago.

The current pay system (that is about to change) works like this:

  • If you refer someone to AdSense who makes $5 within 180 days you get a payment of $5.
  • If you refer someone to AdSense who makes $100 within 180 days you get $250
  • If you refer 25 people who make $100 within a 180 day period you get a bonus payment of $2000

The previous payment system (which is what things are being changed back to) is this:

If you refer someone to AdSense who makes $100 within a 180 day period you get $100.

This removes the incentive to refer anyone who is a small publisher and it removes the incentive to work hard at referring multiple publishers. In fact it removes quite a bit of incentive to use the program at all.

As someone who had always just fallen short of the $2000 bonus I can tell you that for me it always acted as a huge incentive to promote AdSense. When AdSense added the $5 and $2k bonus I thought it was genius – while the numbers may not have been right – I’m surprised that AdSense have removed incentive for publishers to refer them in this way.

But if that’s not enough – get this second change:

2. AdSense Referrals Retired for Publishers outside of North America, Latin America and Japan.

If YOU as a publisher are outside of North America, Latin America, and Japan – you’ll no longer be able to participate in the referral program.

Yes you hear me right, its about the location of you as a publisher that excludes you from participating in the AdSense referral system. It’s got nothing to do with your audience’s location, the topic you write about, the quality of your blog or any other factor – it’s about where you blog from.

I’m not privy to the reasoning for this – they simply say ‘We’ve found that this referral product has not performed as well as we had hoped in these regions’ – but in my mind this is stupidity to the ultimate degree.

As a publisher who blogs from Australia but who has a blog on a niche topic that relates perfectly to AdSense and which has the vast majority of it’s traffic from the USA (and which has consistently referred publishers to AdSense that have converted at the $100 in 180 range) I cannot understand the reasoning for this change.

I’m just one example (I’m the example I know best) and a quick look at my stats shows me that I’ve displayed AdSense referral ads close to 20 million times. I’ve sent them tens of thousands of visitors and have been responsible for thousands of sign ups. I cannot even begin to imaging how much money those signups have made AdSense – yet today they’re telling me that they don’t feel that that kind of evangelism for them is worthwhile paying for?

I can understand the reasoning for changing payment levels if they are not converting well for AdSense, but to exclude publishers from promoting them based upon the location of the publisher is simply dumb.

AdSense – this is short sighted, this will cost you money, this is stupid.

PS: The last line of the post on the AdSense blog which announces this shows just how out of touch the team that made this decision are with international publishers.

“We appreciate your support of this referral product, and hope it won’t cause you any inconvenience.”

You hope it won’t cause inconvenience? Are you serious?

Shoemoney joins the conversation with AdSense Slaps Foreign Webmasters in the Face

Update: I’m still a little confused by this decision of AdSense and have been wondering what’s behind it. One that comes to mind is that perhaps they have an oversupply of publishers and need to slow down the intake of new ones. Perhaps with the rise of so many other ad networks advertisers are finding other options to advertise with and going with AdWords less – causing an oversupply of publishers.

Not sure on that one – just the beginning of an idea.

Update 2: one thing I failed to point out in this post that Andy points out is that publishers that you’ve referred to Google in the last 180 days which are yet to make $100 will be switched to the new payout system at the end of the month. For example, if you referred someone 4 months ago who has made $99.99 as of the end of this month (when the changes come into effect) and who makes makes another cent the day after taking them up to $100 – you will only get the $100 payout instead of a $250 one. Of course that is if you live in the ‘golden zones’ of the Americas and Japan.

So for ‘international’ publishers – every person that you and I have sent to AdSense since the end of July last year that reaches a conversion point in the coming months will earn us nothing at all.

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
  1. Yowtch! That’s just crazy. Not that I’ve ever had much luck with AdSense referrals, but there’s such a complete lack of understanding about how this will impact international publishers. I’m not one, but I would be steamed about that if I were.

  2. Wow. I’m surprised that it matters where you’re based. I mean, if a region is not performing well, and you have the payment levels right, then you won’t be paying out much referral money to them. But that shouldn’t be a problem as the referral money should be less than the profit you’re making – if you pitch the payment levels right.

    Running a website (the market for adsense) is such a location independent thing, that I fail to see how they need you to be in a specific region. I thought it was the same internet that you see in Mountain View as the one in Melbourne or Manchester.

  3. Why on Earth would one’s geographic location have anything to do with the success of the Adsense-using publisher, at least from a technology perspective? They must be assuming that most of the Adsense ads are geared for the blogger’s domestic market. That’s VERY short sited in today’s world, especially when services are being sold, not physical products.

  4. The fact of the matter is that Google has already got all of the market saturation and platform uptake that they need for adsense to now promote itself.

    I would assume they simply don’t feel the need to pay as much for the referrals that they get. Doesn’t help out the average blogger, but makes perfect sense for the googleplex.

  5. You have got to be kidding, I only just got adsense and installed it on ly blog acouple of days ago.

    I was even looking at how I could implement the referral program.

    I live in the UK, but 60-70% of my traffic comes from the US.

    Nice one Google.

  6. Steve Mills – I’m not so sure about the saturation. I mean on one level yes AdSense have the biggest reach – but I would have thought that the awareness levels of AdSense among publishers would have been more saturated in the US than they might have been elsewhere – wouldn’t it have made more sense to expand their reach even further internationally?

    I do agree with you though – this is obviously a business decision and they’ve made it based upon their bottom line. All I know is that they’ll stop getting the millions of page views on this blog that they used to get.

  7. I could almost swallow this if it was just a North American thing.. you know, regulations, simplicity of sticking to a single terroritory, that kinda thing.. but they’re including Latin America and Japan? Why? Are these the biggest earners for Google? If so, I’m blown away Europe isn’t in there.

  8. It will cause a lot of inconvenience, especially for publishers outside of North America, Latin America and Japan….. definitely!

  9. lol… Everyone had to see something like this happening. Large companies can’t offer nice rewards when they have competition, because it means less money out of their pockets. Plus Google stores a ton of information, including Gigabytes of email now for each account. Paying Adsense account there fair share, buying computers with a ton of hard disk space, and all other expenses of the company is a lot, then expecting them to give $2,000 dollar bonuses to people anywhere on the planet is a lot to ask.

    They have looked at the referral program and have pick a new path that maximizes new customers, while minimizing expenses. Small websites open and close like waves on a beach. Why should they pay you for finding them people that are going to give up tomorrow? Maybe this new plan will push you (Darren) into having a larger guiding hand in creating new blogs and making them popular.

  10. Darren, you should let up edit out post for a couple minutes after we post them. “Large companies can’t offer nice rewards when they have competition, because it means less money out of their pockets.” … nice, that was the opposite of what I was getting at!

  11. Another blow that’s going to annoy bloggers. After the whole page rank outcry, and the paid links business, this is just stupid. What next I wonder? It’s downright un-Google-like.

  12. they have been acting as if they are doing us a favor for some time now, at least in my mind. I have had a email to their customer service about clicks that occurred on my newest blog that they did not even credit ( I would not have known about them, had I NOT checked MYBlogLog and found them) and yet they have not even bothered to reply to my email to them which I placed on Friday last. I know that they are doing me a favor letting me in their program, but to date I have given them over 55,000 page views or more, that is alot of free advertising that they have paid less then the cost of dinner for two for. And now this? I have no choice but to keep using them as long as I can, that is until something else presents itself as an alternative.
    thank you for letting the issue be spoken about here, I am hopeful it will be helpful to others who are affected by these changes.

  13. Darren, I assume that you emailed them looking for more answers. Do you have more insight in the situation? Is sad to see that small traffic bloggers won’t be able to support between themselves now using the referral system

  14. I think this is discriminatory and very stupid indeed. What is happening to Google nowadays?

  15. Speaking as an Australian middle-weight problogger, this decision is disappointing but not surprising

    Internet marketers in the USA always seem to get beta access to search engine features, affiliate programs and preferential treatment compared to equivalent people overseas

    And yet the Internet is supposed to be a global system which breaks down arbitrary barriers …

  16. Not wanting to turn this comments into a petition but maybe we should do something like that !

    There are a lot of bloggers and webmasters outside the US and if unite maybe we can influence their decision what do you think ?

  17. “Won’t cause inconvenience?” What a joke! I guess it is an inconvenience if you just eliminated a large source for referrals. Bummer.

  18. I just don’t understand what’s going on at the Plex these days. Slapping everyone using TLA or PPP was partly driven by them wanting everyone to run back to AdSense with their tails between their legs. By removing the ability to make money through referring their product just seems ludicrous to me.

  19. Adsense, Google, landing page quality, $10 min bids,etc., etc and all their rules are becoming an annoyance. They are biting the hand that produces their revenue. Simply stupid.

  20. I also thought it was something insane. And although I am from Brazil (latin america) it is something very stupid to remove people from other countries from the AdSense referring program.

    But I felt the same when AdWords referrals where lauched and I couldn’t show it on my websites because I was from Brazil and not USA.

    I know its a tought task to receive all those bonuses, but removing them makes me think if AdSense references deserve to stay on my pages.

  21. AdSense just keeps going down hill with these stupid changes. I thought the clickable area change was bad enough, now they want to change referrals. It’s ok though, people are starting to realize that you don’t need adsense to make money online. The more people that switch away from adsense the better.

  22. Wow Darren, I have never seen you so upset as in this post, you’re usually such a level headed guy! I agree with you though, Google is biting the hand that feeds it here. Hope they reverse this.

  23. Donovan says: 01/09/2008 at 1:16 pm

    Darren is upset because he’ll be losing ALOT of money. I don’t blame him.

  24. Darren, Your blog has been a big help explaining ad sense. You are more understandable than google. They are making a big mistake in shutting you off from referrals. I am sure you have introduced more bloggers to ad sense than most of the sites in the areas they are keeping on the program. I wonder what their real reason is for dropping the other areas?

  25. This is just such a bizarre decision from Google..looks like I may need to move over to the US or Japan after all, or atleast get a PO Box there for Google to send my cheques to..

  26. Unbelievable. I really, really hope Google responds to this post.

  27. Donovan – actually I don’t make heaps off it. Over the two years it’s been just over five figures which is nothing to sneeze at – but it’s actually significantly less than I make off other affiliate programs.

    For me it’s not so much about the money – it more a slap in the face after years of promoting AdSense, evangelizing for them and even defending them at times. I did this because I actually think they are a good option for bloggers to explore to make money from their blogs (for numerous reasons). However despite my (and others) best intentions to promote them this sort of decision makes me wonder what the point was.

    They obviously don’t want the kind of publishers we can send them. They take away our incentive to send them smaller publishers, they take away our incentive to send them lots of bigger ones and they seem to be saying that they don’t want anyone who doesn’t live in parts of the world that doesn’t suit them.

    To be honest I feel like this decision is just insulting.

  28. and I thought Widgetbucks is crazy for not crediting clicks outside the US and Canada. At least, they are focused on your audience, not on the blogger’s geographical location. Google did something crazier by focusing on the blogger’s location.

  29. Unbelievable…I actually had to check if it was April 1st already because it sure seemed like a joke.

  30. geomark says: 01/09/2008 at 1:50 pm

    The decision seems so intuitively dumb that it must be an algorithmic decision. The numbers must show that referrals from people who reside outside those areas are not as profitable for them. So they want to squeeze margins up a little and maybe consolidate in some areas.

  31. That’s absolutely ridiculous. I can’t believe Google would do this.

  32. I completely agree that this just seems insulting. But to many small publishers it will be more than that – people will have invested time and -money- into promoting adsense.

    Google is effectively saying “thanksverymuch for the traffic, now get lost.”

    This makes me not want to use them for AdSense or AdWords at all any more.

  33. Just goes to show that you can’t put all of your eggs in the Google Basket. I’m just about completely done with Google anyways, tired of adsense smart pricing, tired of PR, etc. Maybe we as readers should start our own ad network!

  34. How long do you think before people at DP start selling adsense accounts that are based in the US to foreign webmasters?
    Google is just finding way to piss webmasters off – first the adsense click zone, and now this.

  35. I have been thinking or removing AdSense from my blogs for some time, and this new bit of info sealed the deal for me.

    If this is the solution the AdSense team decided to go with, I wonder what sort of things they rejected?

  36. I’m sorry to hear about this Darren. Bit of a slap in the face huh. Good thing I never got into the AdSense referrals.

    Take it easy hey.

  37. this is insane…sorry to hear that this is going to affect you…any way to petition them to offer it?

  38. I’ve never been a big fan of Google Adsense. Now, I have a legitimate reason.

  39. Absolutely Ridiculous! If I didn’t have an American bank account and address I’d be out of here. The fact that none of my referrals will probably ever make 100 dollars hurts me. Google… what have you done.

    Yahoo decided to screw over its users too! Check out this blog entry: http://www.blogosis.com/2008/01/09/google-and-yahoo-give-a-huge-bitchslap-to-its-affiliates/

    Justin Dupre

  40. For once living in Japan we are included in the changes. Although having said that my account details still reside in Australia so i would miss out IF i were taking part in referring people to google.

  41. I think it’s time for action. Darren you should gather all of the publishers in Australia together and approach the Ad-sense team. You make good arguments about this new program and with more publishers behind you I think you can make a change.

  42. Darren,

    I signed up for adsense because you and several other “big” bloggers recommended it. I will be more than happy to take it away and hey, I made my $5 in 180 days.

    For small bloggers, it might be easy but the $100 payout seems a long way off. I have 3 small local niche blogs and none them are “trendy”. My audience tends to be non computer literate and so clicks are rare. My farm blog does the best and gets the least traffic. For some reason people want to know what farmers don’t want you to know about chickens.

    Your blog has far more influence than you might think. Start an adsense boycott. I’d give up that buck a day or actually find a better way to earn it.

    Far easier for me to say when I am not earning big bucks from adsense but then again, how much of the adsense income was coming from referrals?

  43. Shit I’m moving to London soon

  44. This is an absolute joke, and as a fellow Australian blogger I can say I’ve also been snobbed off by Adsense. It’s very surprising for someone like Google to resort to such drastic measures, and I think they can only really lose by excluding publishers from their service.

  45. Darren, you wrote: “this is short sited”, you may have meant “this is short sighted”. (sorry for being a G.N.!)

  46. The sad thing is that Google is in control and the rest of the world has to follow :-(

  47. Maybe they only offered those programs so that they would get known enough and have enough free exposure. Maybe now they think they have most of the market and don’t need to worry about this system anymore.

  48. @ Richard – I think that was meant to be a little humor in the post lol.

    Darren – Do you think this could be the start of the end of the road for adsense, with so many people using alternatives?

  49. Sounds like Google is pulling a Microsoft style move and focusing on too much at once. No matter how many employees you have there needs to be a good focus, otherwise your core products have BIG mistakes made like this.

    Wow, Google. Maybe this is why your stock is dropping like a rock in the past week.

  50. It’s not fair… Google is being selfish again…

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