I’ve been pondering the Adsense decision to get into the referral business this morning since hearing the news. There are a number of questions and directions that my mind has taken with it. Bear with me as I think out loud for a few minutes:
Who is left to Refer? – My initial reaction to the announcement was that it’s a nice idea – but who would I refer? It’s probably the blogging circles that I hang around in – but I’m scratching my head to think of too many online publishers who are not already with Adsense. Some of them are inactive of course – but most seem involved already. Over the past few years Adsense has saturated the contextual advertising market brilliantly – to the point where a referral program at this point kind of seems somewhat pointless.
Response to Competition – Is this move more about a response to competition than anything else? YPN is rumored to be coming out of beta in the coming month or two and many believe that they’ll have a referral program of their own. Chitika’s referrer program has caused some real buzz (check out the latest graph for the word chitika at blogpulse) – While Adsense might not recruit too many more publishers at this stage – their competition stands a lot to gain from such programs (as do those who promote them). Is this an attempt at diffusing some of the attention of these new programs?
Sign of Things to Come? – As I pondered this morning and read over the Adsense policies around the referral program I found myself wondering if this might actually be something a little bigger than just a referral program for Adsense. Check out some of the wording in their reference to the referral program (emphases mine):