Google drops Adsense referral scheme

Google has ditched its Adsense referral scheme outside the Americas and Japan in a move that has not gone down well with some of its publishing partners.

The programme, which rewards sites that introduce new users to Adsense, will be “retired” in the last week of January, according to a post on the service’s blog.

So what does this tell us...?

Well, it suggests that Adsense is nearing market saturation, at least among publishers that are large enough to generate fees for sites that refer them. Smaller publishers, the veritable Long Tail, might not be worth the referral fees Google has been paying out.

The Google announcement offers little in the way of explanation, except to say the scheme had “not performed as well” as Google had hoped. It also doesn't include regional referral data in its financial results.

Google said users would still be able to earn cash by encouraging sign-ups to other Adsense-related products.

Nevertheless, there seem to be some unhappy publishers out there, judging by responses to the news on the Adsense blog and other news sites.

All that aside, we still can't believe that Yahoo hasn't launched its Publisher Network here in the UK, more than two years after rolling it out in the US. Adsense generates vast revenues for Google, and publishers would love more competition in this area, but the folks at Yahoo don't seem to recognise a no-brainer when they see one.

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