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January 26, 2006

AdSense silently adds a 90-day time limit on AdSense referrals

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. *

(Click thumbnail for full size).
referrals90c.gif


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.

(Click for full size).
referrals90d.gif


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.

From What is a conversion in my referral reports?

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.

From How much will I earn from referrals?

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.

AdSense Terms refers to the main AdSense referrals page, and again, no 90 day information there either.

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.

referrals90a.jpg

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.

referrals90b.gif

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.

Posted by Jenstar at January 26, 2006 10:45 AM

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Comments

That's very interesting. I wonder how many referral credits they would pay out with this new clause..

Posted by: Catnabbi at January 26, 2006 11:55 AM

For someone starting to use advertising 90 days could easily be too short a time to make $100; it's just Google being evil again.

Posted by: Paul Wells at January 26, 2006 12:53 PM

This is EVIL, google!

Posted by: Joaquin at January 26, 2006 01:16 PM

That is very sly of Google - they should pay up fair and square - the webmasters out there are doing the work for them, they shouldn't through barriers in their way.

My first referral didn't put the code on his pages for two months, and unless his site is a major hit, that's my lot I think. It took me the best part of a year to get my first cheque on AdSense (then I learnt what I was doing.) I wonder how many more new webmasters will be in that position.

A lot of webmasters will be feeling cheated by that one.

Posted by: Dio at January 26, 2006 03:15 PM

I'm not using any of the AdSense referrals yet and, with this 90 day thing, probably won't. I'm in my third year with AdSense. My goal for the first year was simply to earn enough to pay for my server space, which was only a little over a hundred dollars. I more than made that goal, but it was well past 90 days that I made my first hundred. With my audience, the percentage who is going to be able to just jump in and start making money is not very high, so this program is just not going to be one for me to pursue, unless they change it.

Posted by: Mike at January 26, 2006 07:51 PM

Very disappointing indeed.

First because 90 days is way too short for Adsense beginners to earn enough money to qualify
Second because the way used to inform us is ridiculous. Are they ashamed, do they think we are idiots or what?

Posted by: Phil at January 26, 2006 09:14 PM

What is wrong with Google? Within a few days they've bowed to China and now they go and pull this?

As with anything that has a golden sheen it can quickly turn into a fierce hatred. Just look at Chitika.

Posted by: Digger at January 27, 2006 01:53 AM

<rant>

I don't know about you, but in my opinion most of the latest Adsense "improvements" have caused just harm for publishers.. smart pricing --> 90 days referal limit etc.. Here at Finland there's almost zero publishers who could earn more than $100 for their first three months in Adsense, so it feels like they fooled us to keep their banners on our sites for several months...

</rant>

Posted by: Tomppa at January 27, 2006 01:44 PM

Apart from 90 days being too short, it was the “silent” way Google changed the rules that concerns me the most. I hope this doesn’t mean the beginning of a “we’re a big company, we rule the market and so we can do whatever we feel like” sort of attitude. Many people would be very, very disappointed with Google…

Posted by: Filipe Morato Gomes at February 2, 2006 04:49 AM

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