This is a follow up to my earlier post on the rumor that Google was shuttering its AdWords reseller program.
I got an email this morning from someone, who asked not to be identified, and who said that Google confirmed the local AdWords reseller program in its current form is being shut down. The individual added that Google said the program may be reconstituted at some point in the future, although the timing of that was uncertain.
It thus does appear that this program, which was developed as a scalable way for Google to indirectly bring more local-SMBs into paid search and as a way for local publishers and media companies to bolster their online ad offerings, will be coming to an end.
I’ll be reaching out to Google for more information and potential confirmation. However, in response to the earlier rumors, Google issued the following statement:
“The Google AdWords Authorized Reseller Program is still active. We remain committed to building relationships with third party partners that enable small and medium-sized businesses to realize the benefits of cost-efficient, targeted and measurable online advertising solutions like AdWords.“
This is all double hearsay, as they say in the law, but the source is highly credible.
Update: From another source I just was told that the program in its current form will end in a couple of days at the end of March. Existing resellers will lose free API access at that time, which is potentially significant. (Publishers will still have access, they’ll just have to pay now.)
This same source said there was discussion that a new version of the program would be introduced at some point later this year.
Overall, this is a potentially significant development for the local market. For some players it will represent an inconvenience and for others it could have a more serious adverse impact. It will likely motivate further “diversification” of traffic sources among local publishers and sales channels.
Update 2: Here’s a more upbeat perspective from another party involved:
Google previously provided higher levels of support (and in some cases incentives) to local resellers and has decided that local resellers should be treated like other agencies where they have and account manager and pay for API access, since the local channel has matured.
I view this as a sign of success for local that the channel does not need extra care and feeding but can stand on its own. The churn issue is not a channel issue – Google has high churn for smbs who use adwords directly.