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Crypto Advertising – Before and After the Big Banning

Advertising | Case Studies
Last updated October 9, 2020

From eCommerce to tech and finance, companies rely greatly on advertising for promoting their products and services. And in the same way, in the cryptocurrency industry, companies include crypto advertising in their marketing strategies.

How so? Well, through the use of advertising networks. 

However, as the major advertising platforms grew more suspicious of cryptocurrency-related projects, they banned them. Therefore, the crypto advertising networks (aka. bitcoin ad networks), started to be more relied on.

As for banning scams, well… ironically, the crypto projects are out but the scams remained.

But the ‘Big Banning’ of crypto ads is not all bad.

What is Crypto Advertising?

What is Crypto Advertising

Unfortunately, blockchain and cryptocurrency are not debated that much in formal educational institutions. So, don’t expect to hear about it at a business or marketing college.

Most of what it is, is what the community defines it to be.

And with that out of the way, crypto advertising refers to the advertising of cryptocurrency-related projects and products through the means of advertising.

As for the type of companies that benefit from using crypto advertising, we can safely assume that every crypto project relies at some point on ads. But in order to better understand the subject we will mention:

  • Cryptocurrency exchanges
  • Gaming & Gambling websites
  • Wallets and payment solutions
  • Various dapps
  • Emerging cryptocurrency projects

Regardless of their type, these companies rely on the internet to communicate to their audience, so techniques such as display advertising, native advertising, press-releases & advertorials, as well as sponsored announcements came in naturally.

Therefore, ICOs used to turn to the big advertising and social media platforms such as Google, Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin for advertising before 2018.

But as 78% of the ICOs conducted in 2017 were identified as scams, the big networks decided to outcast the whole crypto industry – at least at first.

ICO and Cryptocurrency advertising Banning

ICO and Cryptocurrency advertising Banning

Oh, the good old scam advertising. Facebook, Google, Twitter, and LinkedIn decided in 2018 that they had 99 problems regarding this matter and cryptocurrency can’t be one of them.

Let’s see how it unfolded.

Facebook

The first to crack down on crypto was Facebook. On January 30 of 2018, Facebook announced through a blog post that it will prohibit “misleading or deceptive promotional practices,” with emphasis on ICOs and cryptocurrencies.

But in June, Facebook revised the decision to ban cryptocurrency-related companies from advertising and introduced an application for eligibility while reminding users that they should continue to flag ad content that violates the community guidelines.

Google

In the first weeks of March 2018, more and more reports from crypto advertisers started to appear regarding the suspension and account terminations on AdWords. And on March 14, AdWords officially announced that the company will ban all cryptocurrency-related advertising starting with June 2018.

But in September 2018, Google also decided to review its decision and allow regulated crypto exchanges to buy ads in the United States and Japan.

Twitter

At the end of March 2018, Twitter confirmed that its platform will start banning cryptocurrency advertising, and the policy will be introduced over the course of 30 days. The ban extended to cryptocurrency exchanges and wallet services that were not public companies and listed on major stock exchanges.

LinkedIn

Around the same time as Twitter, LinkedIn joined the party. A LinkedIn spokesman announced at the end of March 2018 that the platform is blocking crypto-related ads. The new policy specified that “ads related to the buying, selling or trading of cryptocurrencies are prohibited.”

Crypto Ads Market response

Crypto Ads Market response

Fighting bad actors is a noble act. However, ostracizing an entire industry based on the assumption that they are all bad isn’t. 

Naturally, the fight against the restrictions began almost immediately with crypto firms and enthusiasts filing lawsuits, which contributed to a somewhat degree in the reviewing of prohibitions. 

But as things are never black and white, the advertising prohibitions did bring some good things to crypto advertising.

First, scammers had a harder time promoting their “projects”.

Second, the demand for cryptocurrency-focused advertising grew.

Even before the ‘Big Banning,’ having your ads showing on the website of a major publication like Forbes accomplished nothing if the people you were looking for were actually present on Bitcointalk.

Therefore, cryptocurrency specialized ad networks have seen exponential growth in demand in 2018.

The so-called Bitcoin ad networks had a special place in the hearts of crypto advertisers, even in 2017. And that was because they were niched. That meant crypto advertisers could use their budget only to show ads on cryptocurrency-related websites.

For companies with smaller marketing budgets, this was a godsend for they could attend to an audience that is already familiar with cryptocurrency.

Crypto Advertising Networks 2017-2019

Crypto Advertising Networks 2017-2019

We searched several internet databases to find how the banning impacted crypto ad networks. As the data is rather scarce, we managed to analyze 25 ad networks that started their activity at different points of time. 

Some existed previous to the banning, some appeared in the 2018-2019 period, and some went out of business in the same period of time.

Although the data was rather limited, we managed to see a trend by observing these firms.

In 2017, the year when Bitcoin surged, the analyzed crypto advertising networks added up a revenue of $7.9 Million. And in 2018, with the surge in ICOs number, their revenue grew over $19.3 million. 

The ‘Big Banning’ on cryptocurrency-related advertising in 2018 also inspired some minor ad networks to get into the race, but as sudden as their appearance was, the same was their disappearance.

The ban review did not affect the growing trend that much. Even in 2019, the cryptocurrency ad networks still saw a revenue of $24.5 million, meaning a growth of $5.2 million from the previous year. 

The Situation of Cryptocurrency Advertising in 2020

The Situation of Cryptocurrency Advertising in 2020

As for 2020, it’s still soon to see where the numbers are going.

But the crypto advertisers may already know that even now, some crypto networks are looking to close down while others are expanding. In other words, even the cryptocurrency advertising niche is following the normal course of an industry in which customers gather around the companies that provide better reliable services.

As for scams, there is quite some irony. While legit crypto ad networks such as Coinzilla strive to keep scammers out of advertising, encouraging legit projects, more and more scams seem to get promoted by the IT giants.

We won’t even mention the ICO ads that ran in January 2020 on Facebook were selling – wait for it – Libra.

SIDENOTE. Libra is the name of cryptocurrency that Facebook had planned to launch since 2019 but couldn’t because of regulatory issues.

And of course, neither we will mention the ads that ran on youtube in July and August 2020, presenting Vitalik Buterin in an interview on the top-left corner of the screen, with a big text on the right side of the screen, asking viewers to “participate” in an ETH halving scam.

And of course, the cherry on the cake, we won’t talk about the fact that CoinCorner’s clone was running a search ad on Google in April.

We know that crypto ads are prohibited on the big networks, but it starts to look like scammers know the way around. 

If this goes on, it will be better for legit cryptocurrency brands to associate themselves with dedicated crypto advertising networks than doing anything on the big advertising platforms.

Key takeaways

  • Crypto advertising refers to the advertising of cryptocurrency-related projects and products through the means of advertising.
  • Facebook was the first to ban cryptocurrency ads on January 30 of 2018. Google, Twitter, and LinkedIn started working on adopting a similar policy by March 2018.
  • Following the new restrictions, crypto firms and enthusiasts started filing lawsuits against the advertising giants. On the other side, the advertisers started to rely more on the crypto advertising networks. 
  • Ih 2020 the crypto ads industry is still in high demand. While legit crypto ad networks strive to keep scammers out of advertising, more and more scams seem to get promoted by the IT giants.
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