Google AdSense team blog has announced an upcoming change to “referral unit for AdSense”, that only affects referral units promoting AdSense; and doesn’t make affect on referrals to other products and services.
This change to referrals promoting AdSense will differ depending on your location, regardless of where your users are located.
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If you're in North America, Latin America, or Japan, the pricing structure for AdSense referrals is changing.
About a year ago, as an experiment, we changed the pricing structure for AdSense referrals so that when a user you referred to the program earned $5 within 180 days of sign-up, you would also earn $5. When that publisher earned $100 within 180 days and removed all payment holds, you'd receive $250. We have decided to conclude this experiment and return to the original pricing structure. As a result, we'll soon no longer be offering the $5 bonus or $2000 bonus, and the payout for referring a user who generates $100 with AdSense in the first 180 days will return to $100.
These pricing changes will take place during the last week of January. A referred user who reaches $100 within 180 days of signing up and who removes all payments holds before the change occurs will generate earnings of $250 for the referring publisher. Any referred user who meets this conversion criteria after the change occurs will only generate $100 in earnings for the referring publisher. In addition, the $5 bonus will be removed at that time. Please note that the date a user was referred will only affect where the 180-day window is set but not necessarily the payout the referring publisher receives. For example, it's possible that a user referred in early January will meet the conversion criteria before a user referred in early November, and so the resulting payout may differ.
If you're outside of North America, Latin America, and Japan, AdSense referrals will be retired.
For publishers not located in any of the three regions detailed above, we'll soon be retiring referrals promoting AdSense. We've found that this referral product has not performed as well as we had hoped in these regions. Again, please keep in mind that you can still generate referrals for the other products listed under the 'Referrals' section of your AdSense Setup tab.
Soon, you'll no longer see the option to create a referral button for AdSense in your account, although existing buttons will display as normal. This specific referral type will then be retired during the last week of January - any users who meet the conversion criteria (reaching $100 in earnings within 180 days of sign-up and removing all payment holds) before the change will generate earnings of $250 for the referring publishers. Any conversions which occur after this change is made will not be recorded in your account. You may wish to begin replacing any existing referrals promoting AdSense with referrals for another product or an AdSense for content unit. [AdSense Blog]