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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. I love the letter darren. Im not to found of some of the decisions google has been making lately. Fix my damn google earth already!

  2. Way to go, Darren. Funny, Adsense works for some people, but for the majority, the measely payouts don’t amount to anything. Affiliate marketing and direct advertising: goodbye Adsense!

  3. My little blog was hurt by Adsense recently. I used Pay per Post sites like Payperpost and Linkworth and did a couple of posts. They took away my Page Rank and told these companies that these kind of posts are messing up their search algorithims.

    Monopolies are great for a short time and then they start requiring more power.

    Sorry, just had to vent. Great post.

    Brandon J
    Money for Military

  4. Google really sucks. They are still one of those America only companies that thinks the entire world outside of a USA is a jungle.

  5. I always thought WWW stood for WORLD-WIDE web … but what would I know, I don’t live in USA.

  6. Dazza, this totally sucks. Thankfully you’re portfolio is diverse :)

    All the best my friend!


  8. Brilliant writing Darren !

    To move on with the debate, few questions:

    Do we know WHY ? Is there any legal reason, or is it only a marketing thing ? Do they have enough publishers now ?

    Any hint ?


  9. Wow! Cool Letter

  10. At least you got a letter.
    I’m not even important enough to get one it seems ;)

  11. great letter …

  12. I was (actually am) as annoyed as you (well, perhaps not that annoyed) when I heard about the change to the referral program. I’ve not sent anybody to their door, but the option to run the program was always there, should I wish.

    The thing I fell most annoyed about isn’t the fact that they’ve taken it away, its the fact that their reasoning for taking it away doesn’t compute – to state that the program is of no benefit (to either themselves, the publishers, or the people who convert) unless that conversion starts and ends in the US is to reduce the world wide web to a mere US concern that the rest of the world is just playing at.

    Why would a UK or Australian conversion no longer be considered fruitful? It would be nice for the adsense team to explain further the decision to drop everyone other than the US. Are the dollars the people who have converted after being referred by yourself not as good as the dollars earned by someone in the US? Is there an issue with US funds being sent overseas, out of the US? Are we going to see a statement that says non-US publishers are to be penalised and paid less than their US counterparts from normal adsense advertising etc.

  13. I wonder if there are any U.S. based mail forwarding services that would allow you to sign up as a U.S.-based publisher for stuff like this? Seems like there should be something out there would allow this. It might get sticky with tax treatment (no idea how your local taxes work) but perhaps it would be worth looking into.

  14. I am disappointed also as I am using for adsense and other google product promotion.

    Now all my posts will have a broken link for adsense till I waste one complete weekend to edit them all! :-(

  15. Google “SUCKS”. Why can’t we take a vow not to use their search any more. There are other search engines too like Yahoo…Let us hope that Yahoo Publisher Network and Microsoft “Adcenter” goes international soon..Will give Google a run for their money..To be frank lot of webmasters now hate Google. Remove their Toolbar, Use other search engines. That is how we can retaliate. Never use it. It will be the best revenge of the “MONOPOLY”…

  16. good post :D

  17. That sucks about adsense, but it really isn’t as great as it seems. There are many better ways to make money off of your website or blogs. I’ve got a widget on my blog that makes me lots of money. Made $3,000 in the first 3 hours! Needless to say, adsense is still offered where I live, but I don’t even mess with it anymore… it gets in the way of the real money maker.

    Click my name to visit my blog if you’re interested in seeing what I’m talking about.

  18. I’m slightly confused.

    Does this mean that non-US blogs can’t earn money from running Google ads on their site? Or does it mean that non-US blogs can’t earn money from directing other blogs to run Google ads on their sites?

  19. Google…WTH?

    Caitlin, non-US blogs will still be able to earn money from AdSense.

  20. @ Caitlin: You get money for referring people to sign up and use Google Adsense. Non-USA/Canadian/Japanese users won’t get this money after January 31 for referring users.

  21. Good for you, for writing this article! We all are a little bit worried by Google’s movements…..
    Maybe we should use something else! All the best to you!

  22. I still cannot believe what google is doing, I first read about it on shoemoney, and then confirmed it here. This is crazy. It’s simple – If it isn’t broke don’t fix it. Google could take advice from regular people!

    Best of luck,

  23. Bubba says: 01/17/2008 at 7:56 am

    Yes, I come across this phenomenom all the time with large companies, and even internet marketers and others involved with the internet.

    Most people still feel comfortable with geographic groups for some reason. Job boards are filled with SEO type jobs that say (or infer) “preferred candidates will reside in local area …”

    It’s beyond me.

  24. Careful Darren, they’ll throw you out of AdSense altogether, confiscate any earnings, and give you no reason. It’s happened to me and many others I know.

    I think Serge and Larry are upset that I keep kicking their butts in Foosball!

    And Google Earth refuses to index my house (I’m serious).

  25. darren,

    don’t be so heartbroken. for one, you’re not alone in this case :-). second, you can still find other alternatives to adsense.

  26. Good that we had you on our side…..

  27. I live in the United States and Google Pimps Publishers here too… At any minute google could also determine that referral programs in the USA are cancelled too.

    You, me, We gave google the power to rule with an iron fist. Without people, google would die. What would happen if every publisher pulled google ads from thier site …with no explanation? what would happen if every internet user used a search engine other than google? what would happen if internet users told google thier page rank system is garbage …google would fall to its knees. What if all internet users organized a google boycott? What would happen if 300 million internet users avoided all google contact… no adsense, no adwords, no searches…

    But ofcourse people wont boycott… Collecting pennies from adsense is fun. I know because I collect pennies from adsense. Currently google owes me $30.29 …. in 8 more months, after I collect another $69.71 they’ll cut me a check… thats if they dont accuse me of some sort of fraud.

    Google’s unofficial slogan: Internet Users, Jewels worth risking to keep.

  28. Typical google, always changing the rules. Adsense sux, which is why I call it AdNONsense.

  29. No way! A very sad letter!!

  30. That is one of the best post I’ve seen.

    Great, great writing!

  31. Hello

    Adsense changes their policies at time to time, But some times they make wrong changes, which really break heart of all adsense publishers. Its a a bad decision.

  32. ohhhh…. I found the answer … that’s why I havn’t found the referral program on adsense….. quite disappointing…

  33. Hello Darren,

    This is quite sad that you have go different ways. But I don’t see any such reasons for this to happen.

    Anyway, as the saying goes the show must go on and I know it will.

    Cheers mate.

  34. Well, this is another way of the big boys trying to monopolize the system. Hang in there, we are all rooting for you.

  35. Sad to say but with all of the MFA sites popping up like roaches, Google had to do something to curb the appeal to spam the index for a few pennies per click.

    Unless they are marketing geniuses like yourself Darren, I doubt that many made enough to justify the efforts.

  36. Darren, you are crack up.

  37. What is the background for this decision, hackers? Doopers? I guess it would be possible to create a bunch of fake accounts among click communites at the advertisers expense. Bet it was just a headache to manage.

  38. Wow Darren,

    If that is the way you write, I bet your wife has a shoe box filled with letters tied neatly with a red bow…letters she will treasure forever. Such eloquence.

    Maybe Google will begin to feel the pangs of the “breakup’, and come crawling back.

  39. So sorry for your heartbreak, but don’t despair…I understand CosmoGirl is interested in you writing a monthly advice column for the jilted and lovelorn. They need you, big guy.
    Great post.
    Anita Bruzzese

  40. bizzArtic says: 01/18/2008 at 10:45 pm

    Really great post,…but still…I noticed you have Adsense refferal button on your website. I know this is probably the time you’ll get most clicks on it but it also gets me (your readers) thinking, you know. Maybe you got a call or something

  41. I wonder just how many millions of bloggers are owed just under the 100 dollar line?
    As I see it Adsense has commited serious fraud. Changing the payment methods and the frequency of payments.
    In two years I accumulated 30 USD which isn’t enough to get payed on.
    I have even had my friends visit my blog and NOTHING was registered!
    I really cant be bothered with all this crap they have fed us.
    Perhaps we should start a class action suit against them for misleading us all.
    The Baldchemist

  42. What a great analogy you are using to illustrate your hate-love relationship with them Darren! Such an analogy tugged at my heartstrings!

    Congrats on the reviving of your relationship with your lover after they heard from you. :)

  43. Bummer…..but speaking of Love and Letters.

    iwiLetter.com (send real letters, write online) is hosting a Love Letter writing contest. Write your best Love Letter and it can become part of our growing selection of sample letters available for anyone to read or send in the mail via iwiLetter.com. Imagine your Love Letter being read and used by thousands of other Lovebirds!

    Submit your Love Letters at http://www.iwiLetter.com/LoveLetter

  44. I was equally annoyed with them. While I was in the hospital with my mother having her thyroid removed, adsense blocked my content because of too many clicks coming from an area. What the hell can I do about it? I live in Tennessee and send my links to people in Tennessee via twitter and what not. With times the way they are I wouldn’t be a bit suprised if adsense doesn’t stop paying people within the next year and come up with an “incentive program” like banner trading etc instead. damn them all.

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