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Dear AdSense, You Broke My Heart – An Open Letter to AdSense

Posted By Darren Rowse 16th of January 2008 Adsense, Featured Posts 0 Comments

Broken-HeartAdSense have sent publishers using the AdSense referral program who live outside of the US, Canada and Japan an email confirming that the program will be retired as of 31 January (published below). The email came from a ‘noreply’ email address – so publishers have no way of feeding back their response.

As a result I’ve decided to reply here with an Open Letter to AdSense regarding their ‘Dear John’ (breakup) letter to me. I hope you’ll indulge me while I seek a little public therapeutic release.

update – it seems AdSense read this post and had a change of heart. You can see my 2nd ‘love letter’ to AdSense here.

Dearest AdSense,

I was sorry to receive your letter today which confirmed what I’d been hearing about our relationship – ie that you don’t want to see me (or my traffic) any more.

I still remember the time you began to flirt with me. It was in February 2005 when you announced a new product – a ‘referral program’ that offered to publishers like me gifts when they sent a new customer to you. You took my breath away with the idea but as your eyes passed over me back then for not living in a place that you desired your lover to live I was saddened. I wondered why me not living across your back fence worried you so much when my traffic was mainly local to you – but I lived in hope that you’d look upon me some day.

It wasn’t like I’d have to do anything that I wasn’t already doing. I’d had a crush on your for years already and was already telling the world of how great I thought you were!

All my wishes came true on November 2005 – when your previous flirtations went a step further and we stepped out on our first date.

At first I was cautious – but when you held me in your arms and whispered sweet promises of what we could be I leapt in. I’m a little ashamed to say it – but we did more than kiss on our first date – I began to send you traffic on that first day – 17 visitors to your site and 1 ‘conversion’ – a small but significant (at least for me) token of my love for you.

It wasn’t until February 2006 that you reciprocated my love for you. I’d been sending ‘gifts’ in the shape of readers to you for months to no avail – but 2 days after Valentines day you uttered the words I’d been longing to hear…. ‘here’s 100 big ones baby’.

In May you said it again and then in June twice more. Your calls were coming with more and more frequency and I began to see more potential in our relationship.

In February 2006 you became more generous with your promises – extending the period of time that you’d accept referrals from 90 to 180 days. You added new features and designs – making it easier for me to tell everyone of you.

In October you did the unthinkable and called twice in the one day and I could hardly contain my excitement.


All the while I was telling the world of my admiration and love for you. I gave them tips on how they too could be your lover, sharing the secret insights on how you worked (things I could have kept to myself), I defended you when you seemed distant from them and I continued to send you more and more gifts.

I even set up a permanent place on my blog proclaiming my love for you as well as a whole category (with over 450 posts) on my blog dedicated to breaking your news, sharing tips on how to work with you better and encouraging people to check you out – it’s the most popular category on my blog. Sure I did this partly because I wanted to win your favor and get the gifts you promised – but it was also partly because I believed in you and appreciated what you’d done for me and others like me.

In February of last year you again whispered sweet nothings in my ear and generously updated your promises to me. You gave more incentive to send you smaller lovers to you but also dangled a large reward before me to send more and more lovers your way.

I increased my efforts to please you and the results were amazing.

You began to call and say the words that I loved to hear (‘here’s 5 big ones’ or ‘here’s 250 big ones baby’) more and more. There were weeks when you called almost everyday and I began to wonder where all of this was leading!

As someone so loyal to you I had half wondered if there might be special privileges one day set aside for me. I’d heard of others who’d been given more personal attention and who had been invited to get access to your palace…. perhaps one day you’d notice the efforts that I’d put in to win your affection and build something that you might find worthy of acknowledgement….

Sure I’ve taken other lovers at times. You might not want to hear it but seeing as we’re being hones, some of them even even were more generous than you in what they offered me – however you were my first love and I’ve always had a special place in my heart for you and so despite your gifts being a little small in the size department I continued to proclaim my love for you.

The big ‘reward‘ for sending many lovers in a 180 day period has been so tantalizingly close over the past few months. Surely you’ve noticed how hard I’ve been working to share with the world my love for you.

And then last week I began to hear rumors about you. People began to say that you’d changed – that something was wrong. The news began to filter out and then you broke the news on your blog. Oh I wish I’d heard it directly from you so that we could talk about it – but I guess you wanted everyone to know at once.

It seems that the gifts that I send you are not of the type that I want – for some reason because of where I live. Once again the fact that I’m not living over your back fence seems to be something you can’t get over.

The gifts I send you are largely local to you, I’ve sent thousands of them over the last two and a half years. While I’m sure others have sent more – I know that many hundreds of them have converted for you. You’ve taken thousands of lovers upon my recommendation.

When I heard the news late last week I was shocked. Then I was hurt. Then I felt taken for granted. Then I felt insulted. Then I was angry.

I got lots of sympathy from others about it – but it seems my that nothing has changed in your mind because today I received your letter.

  • You are still hung up on my location – despite my relevant traffic and audience who lives in your backyard.
  • You say that the gifts I sent you that still convert in the next 180 will no longer count after 31 January. You will profit from our relationship for many years – yet you cut me off with 3 weeks notice.
  • You apologize for my inconvenience again but your apology feels empty after years of me declaring my love for you.

You seem to want to remain friends – your letter suggests that other programs might convert better for someone in my ‘region’ – but you don’t seem to understand that I don’t want to dance with others.

Those other programs have no relevance to my audience – and to be honest I’ve never had gifts from any of them. You’re the only one for me – or so I thought.

I’m sorry to see our relationship end. I’ve danced publicly with and for you for years and now this – a slap in the face.

The time has come for the dancing to stop. I don’t want it to – you see I think you’re really great. But unrequited love has a habit of turning ugly in time – so it’s probably best I step away from the dance floor like you’ve asked me to.

I’ll still talk about you – after all I want to help my readers and continue to provide relevant information for them – but I can’t guarantee quite the same warmth in my voice when I do while I’m feeling like I do. That’s not a threat – it’s just the way life is when you break up I guess.

I’m not sure what else to say. I know there’s little that I can do to change your mind – but I guess I wanted you to know how I feel. I do look back on some of the times we’ve had with fondness – but I guess it’s time to say goodbye.

Darren Rowse

Thanks to directeur from xhtml-css.com for the help with the image.

Following is the email sent by AdSense to ‘international’ publishers earlier today:


We are writing to share some important information with you about
referrals to the AdSense product. As part of ongoing efforts to
optimize revenue opportunities for our publishers, we’re
constantly experimenting with new revenue-enhancing features as
well as tweaking those products already available to our
publishers. This is the case for referral units directing visitors
to sign up for AdSense. After experimenting with this program
over the past year, we’ve concluded that there are other products
that are of higher value than this program to publishers in your
region. As a result, referral units for the AdSense program will
be retired in the coming weeks. Referrals to other products and
services remain unaffected.

If you’re currently displaying referral units on your site
directing users to sign up for AdSense, read on below for details
about what to expect in the coming weeks.

In early January, the option to add referral units directing users
to the AdSense product will no longer appear in your account. You
will continue to accrue earnings for all existing referrals yet to
generate $100 until late January, at which point the program will
be fully retired. Existing referral units will continue to appear
on your pages.

By the end of January, you should remove all referral units
directing users to AdSense from your pages. Referral units
that you do not remove will continue to be displayed on your pages
as normal, but conversions will no longer be recorded. We
suggest you replace the AdSense referrals with referrals to
another product or service or an additional ad unit.

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. Hahaha that’s a good one! Adsense sucks, but hopefully writing the letter got some things off your chest!

  2. They broke my heart as well. That is why I decided to remove any ad whatsoever!

  3. WOW

    “I gave them tips on how they too could be your lover…”

    Darren for probably the only time in History your Blog and my Blog have similar discussions!

    I just wonder if you will hear from Google on this! I think yes

    Mr. Gentlenibbles

  4. Hahaha, omg. This is the way blog writing should be. I’m sour that Google decided to take my 13 dollars away due to “invalid clicks” which they still fail to explain to anyone. Take your 13 dollars, corporate pigs.

    Way to come with the humor. Lovely writing, Darren.

    Justin Dupre

  5. Yikes! That sucks. Guess I might as well remove all my referral code. Lucky e for living outside the US, huh?


  6. You’re sheer frustration with Google Adsense is loud and clear. Im not too happy with Google myself, a PR4 was stripped from my blog, after it took several months to attain it. Bummers.

    We win some, we lose some! The ups and ugly downs of the blogosphere.

  7. Great letter. Google really needs to look more at the quality of traffic. I doubt they’ll do it, but it would be nice for publishers like you.

  8. if everyone who uses adsense wrote a letter, maybe they would change

  9. You send Adsense a lot of traffic, it is kind of a slap in the face to hear this.

  10. It’s funny (or sad actually) how the number one internet company hasn’t really understood that the internet is without borders.

    Any announcement from Google is ALWAYS for the USA, and eventually, if the mood is right, include bits of the rest of the world.

    I am always fighting and educating the manufacturers in my LoB, trying to get them to understand that they need to approach the net differently, without borders. And here I am facing Google who looks at the internet as borders, territories, divisions, etc, everything the net is not….


    (nice article!)

  11. You just give the point elegantly, Darren. I do think they’re becoming more and more unfair to their publishers. Now it’s like the right time to get other programs than Adsense. Thanks for sharing this for us publicly.

  12. That’s very strange from google. What can we expect next?

  13. Google has a strange map of the world; doing this just because you are in Australia!

  14. Darren,
    Relationship breakups are like boogers, you sit there and play with it for awhile, but ultimately, you just gotta flick it.

  15. Great letter Darren. I think Adsense are being extremely shortsighted. And what they’ve done really sucks.

    I’ll be keen to hear their reply – and in the meantime, I hope you find a more worthy and profitable lover.

  16. Good letter.

    Which is the most probably replacement for Adsense, right now? Chitika, WidgetBucks, Yahoo ads, MSN ads? Anybody?

  17. EXTREME thought must have went into this

    this was not haphazardly planned by Google

    It must have been a case or ROI

  18. Nice… I think you need to mail it to the adsense team. Make sure to seal the letter with a kiss.

  19. Too bad when a company goes down the road for their own convenience rather than for their customers. Start of the slippery slope methinks.

  20. Being a New Zealand blogger, I’m suffering similar feelings of rejection. Clearly Google just couldn’t handle juggling so many relationships at once. You might need to burn the photo for cathartic purposes, too.

  21. I still don’t understand Google limiting those who do such a great job of spreading the word about AdSense, when as a brand (Google) I would think it would help their overall strategy. Perhaps this breakup was caused by an old boyfriend (loss of regional advertisers as willing participants) or something.

  22. Ok I’m used to seeing US only, which I have to say I don’t understand. How biast can you be, I’d love to know what information they are looking at.

    And ok I can see how Canada goes with the US.

    But Japan – what have they got that the rest of us haven’t!

  23. this is beautifully written, Google is seriously making a mistake here.

  24. Graeme says: 01/16/2008 at 8:23 am

    I wonder whether they adjust revenue share (or adjust earnings in some other way) depending on where you live?

    The only logical explanation I can think of for basing this on where the referring publisher is, rather than where the referred person is, is that Google feels that they need to pay less to publishers in certain countries – because there is less competition for publishers from other ad networks.

    Therefore, they either are, or will, pay us less in other ways.

  25. Hahaha, your letter really made me laugh, it was really funny, but at the same time really sad. I just set up my blog with AdSense, now time to remove it…

  26. Nice picture of you, Larry, and Serge… I thought that picture and the whole letter were funny. Darren, don’t you have the connections to fall through some crack in the system? David Airey had the connections to get his domain back after a hacker transfered it away from him and everyone told him he had no hope of getting it back.

  27. great post… it is very sad to hear the news.. though loosing the whole referral this with google would suck.. however if they were to remove you from their whole adsense program would be even worse…

  28. Bravo, Darren! What a stupid, thoughtless move on Google’s part. (The SWINE.)

    A company that fails to recognize the role that Australia & the UK are playing in the English-language blogosphere is, well, clueless. I don’t know what problem they think they are solving with this, but this is a boneheaded solution.

  29. Reading about this episode on your blog, and then doing more research into Google’s practice of denying people their revenue due to “invalid clicks”, frequently just before they get to their first 100 bucks, is making me think I don’t want to have their ads on my site anymore.

  30. Gosh Darren…What a touching letter (sniff!). If you haven’t had a call from Mills and Boon by the end of the day then I’m a monkey’s uncle.

    That was sheer brilliance and probably the first post I read from top to bottom without scanning. Quality. Unlike Google…

  31. With this and the recent page rank fiasco, what more do people need to drop Google and go elsewhere?

    Keep letting them abuse you, and they’ll just do it more.

  32. Darren,

    Pull the Adsense referral banner and text link off the bottom of your page. Stop giving them free promotion and traffic.

  33. Your letter makes me feel sad about what adsense has done to millions of publishers living outside of North America, Latin America and Japan.

  34. There is a mistake in the post. The Adsense referral program will still include South America.

  35. Darren,

    It is really good to see that you still have a sense of humor about Google’s latest stunt.

    Very funny, and a great read.

  36. Dang it, just when I thought I had my favorite post on your blog memorized, you had to go and write a new favorite one. ;)

  37. Right on, Darren! Google is losing it.

    I am also annoyed by the fact that I cannot decide which version of Google log on to. If I log on here in Norway they force me to the Norwegian version of Google. BUT I WANT google.com and NOT google.no!

    I hate it when I’m forced.

    Bad, bad Google. They used to be much better.

  38. Brilliantly written, Darren.

    I’ve seen this US-bias for way too long with smaller internet companies, but Google!!!

    I’m perplexed by this decision because you’re clearly giving them massive traffic and referrals from people in their own “backyard” ie: USA.

    I would have thought it doesn’t matter who gave it to them or where they where from – only that it converts.

    I’d like to see some hard figures from Google on the reasoning behind this decision – or it’s just another notch on their way over the tipping point into oblivion.

  39. Without the referral program, I see no reason to promote AdSense

  40. Dangit….Just when I wanted to start implementing adsense referral links!

  41. Well said, Darren. I’m an “international publisher” too, although Google doesn’t seem to know … my websites, phone and bank accounts are still in the US although I choose to live elsewhere. But I’m removing any AdSense/AdWord referrals even if they didn’t (yet) send me the “foreigner” email.

    A part many have missed is not the fact Google are changing the program … they certainly have that right … but how they are cutting off folks who are already in the ‘wait queue’ to earn follow-on commissions. This is akin to buying something on hire purchase and then arbitrarily deciding to stop paying before the note is retired. It’s dirty pool and at least borderline illegal. I certainly expected better.

    And so sad to see yet another big company in my native land succumb to the sad, jingoistic last century practice of ‘flat world’ thinking. If advertisers want clicks from ‘same country’ residents (understandable, for sure) and the publisher delivers those clicks as the advertiser requests, of what possible concern could the actual location of the publisher be? Google already charge rapacious and far out of line fees to international publishers to (over)compensate for increased costs of international postage/fund transfers.

    As Mr. Spock might have said, “Does not compute, Larry and Sergey.”

  42. Darren,

    I am glad you can take a situation like this and make jokes about it. It is messed up how they would send an email like that and use a no reply email address. Its sad but you always hear legitimate bloggers who get banned from adsense and never broke the tos.


  43. A good joke..

  44. This is brilliant, a super well written break up letter.

    All the best to ProBlogger.

  45. Darren,

    I know break-ups are hard when you’ve invested so much in a relationship, but as you pointed out, you two weren’t even monogamous ; )

    You’re too good for them anyway. There’s lots of other fish in the sea ; )

  46. Darren, i am sorry but that was sad post. Sad as in lame. Boo hoo, get over it. You are at the top with a whole bunch of fans. Be strong, inspire your fan base.

  47. How about setting up shop in Delaware, and going with the flow?

    You are ‘big’ business now, Darren. You can do this. Global reach, global business presence. The solution fits the bill.

    Voila. Problem solved.

  48. I’m sorry for your loss, Darren. I’m also an Australian, so I know what it feels like to be left out, but I never used the referral program – good thing I guess.

    I can feel you’re deeply sad and angry about this.

    All I can say is cheer up.

  49. That is a well written “broken heart” letter Darren. More so when it leaves a bad after taste from the way the relationship was terminated in short notice.

    I did not venture into referrals long because it did not seem to result in any conversion for me. So, I am not affected at all. But I do tend to think that in all advertising programmes, the terms and conditions are always favouring the advertisers (unless the publisher had a hand in negotiating the terms prior to agreement).

  50. It’s a shame they would do that to loyal publishers.

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