A thread over at DigitalPoint points out that Google AdSense has quietly added a new term to all AdSense referrals generated by a publisher. They have now instituted a 90-day time limit on that referral, meaning a referred publisher must earn the $100 within the first 90 days, before the referring publisher is eligible to earn that $100 for a completed AdSense referral.
When generated the AdSense referral code, above the buttons shows:
When a publisher that signed up for AdSense through your referral earns their initial $100.00 and is eligible for payout, we’ll credit your account with $100.00. *
Note the asterisk at the end. And at the bottom where the asterisk references:
* An AdSense referral is counted when a publisher, who has never previously enrolled in AdSense, creates an account and earns at least $100.00 within 90 days of sign-up. The referred publisher must be eligible for payment to qualify as a successful referral.
No one seems to recall that “within 90 days” clause added. And frankly, neither do I.
It is also worth noting that NONE of the AdSense support documents for AdSense referrals include this 90 days either.
In contrast, a conversion for AdSense is counted when a user you’ve referred to AdSense has signed up and earned $100 through the program.
Because not all referred publishers who sign up for AdSense will reach $100 in earnings, you may notice that the amount of sign-ups is higher than the amount of conversions. Depending on the success of your referrals, these statistics may even out over time.
When a user you’ve referred to AdSense first earns US $100, we’ll credit your AdSense account with US $100.
Again, no reference at all to this 90 days clause.
But what is most telling is the fact that AdSense referrals page has a screen shot of the control panel screen – and there is no asterisk or mention of the 90 days.
And the AdSense Blog also used a screenshot of this page, which shows yet a different version of the wording, but no reference to the 90 days or an asterisk.
Something else I pondered is the “earns their initial $100.00 and is eligible for payout”. This could potentially be interpreted to mean that the 90 day window is actually closed much further than that, because a publisher is not eligable for payout until 30 days after the end of a month. So a publisher would need to earn that $100 during the first two months of the referral.
Hopefully AdSense will provide some clearer information about this new 90 day requirement for AdSense referrals.
Added: I have been asked about my personal thoughts on the change. On the one hand, I can fully appreciate AdSense not wanting to keep track and pay our referrals years after the initial referral was made. But on the other hand, I believe that 90 days is too short a time frame for that referral lead to expire. I think that if the change had been made initially to 180 days, there probably would not be the complaints as there are now with the 90 days, especially when you take into account the thirty days needed for earnings to be eligible for payout, as well as time it takes for new publishers to not only implement the code but also to do some testing to find out what kind of placement and style works best. 6 months is a good time frame for earning from that referral lead, but 3 months is far too short.