Back in 2018, Google banned all crypto-related advertising, leaving financial companies unable to market ICOs, exchanges, wallets, and other services. The new policy revision, which dropped on August 3rd of 2021, permits regulated crypto entities to advertise most things, although initial coin offerings are still off the table.
Overall, the move is good news, and not just because of the new advertising flexibility. Google’s decision also grants more legitimacy to Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency, which have long been seen as a speculative and risky financial instrument by the search engine.
The Ultimate Guide to Crypto Marketing Using Inbound Strategies
And while cryptocurrency itself is still risky and unpredictable, legitimate financial institutions that offer crypto products or that enable movement between physical and digital currency can now introduce their services to a broader audience.
What’s In Google’s New Crypto Ad Policy?
According to the new verbiage, advertisers that offer crypto wallets and exchanges to customers in the United States can now advertise on Google, as long as they meet specific requirements.
Financial advertisers must be registered either with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) as a money services business with a minimum of one state as a financial transmitter OR with a state or federally chartered bank entity.
They also need to comply with any local, federal, or state legal requirements as applicable.
If they meet these criteria, they’re free to dive into the SEM pool—as long as their ads and landing pages are in line with Google’s advertising policies.
All previously existing “Cryptocurrency Exchange Certifications” were revoked as of August 3rd, 2021,, and advertisers must request the new “Cryptocurrency Exchanges and Wallets Certification.”
What’s Not Allowed?
Ultimately, Google holds all advertisers to a set of standards meant to weed out scams and shady dealing, so there are still plenty of things you can’t do.
For example, celebrity crypto endorsements are not allowed, nor are ads for ICOs, or any ad promoting cryptocurrency for sale or trade.
Other prohibited items/activities include ad copy or links that point to:
- Cryptocurrency comparisons, aggregators, or related products
- Promoting a specific currency
- Cryptocurrency investment advice or trading signals
- Affiliate sites that feature broker reviews or content related to the above
Additionally, companies that offer crypto services that fall outside the financial entity requirements, including analysts and chart aggregators, are still restricted.
Why Did Google Ban Crypto Advertisers in the First Place?
It’s easy to see why Google’s policies might seem unfair. They’ve changed their position on the topic several times, banning certain terminology and even the names of some of the currencies themselves.
The unfortunate truth is that, back in 2018, most of the crypto ads on social and search engines were fraudulent. Google, Facebook, and Twitter banded together to ban crypto-related ads regardless of the advertiser’s credibility. Later that year, they amended the ban to allow ads from approved advertisers, but only in the U.S. and Japan.
The trouble is, crypto rules differ wildly between countries. Some have banned cryptocurrency outright, while others just make it more challenging to promote. It is generally hoped that Google’s new stance will lend some legitimacy to the sector and open opportunities for new players to enter the market.
It also helps that cryptocurrency is regulated and recognized by the SEC and the IRS in the U.S., unlike the EU, which was largely unregulated until January 2020.
Not Just Any Financial Marketing Company Will Do
The hope is that with more consistent guidelines and regulations, global recognition will follow. But for now, crypto is still in a nascent phase, making it extremely challenging to establish a long-term SEM strategy.
Considering the challenges financial companies face in advertising their crypto products, it’s more important than ever to work with a marketing company that understands your niche and knows how to navigate the changing digital advertising environment.
Gate 39 Media specializes in financial marketing, including marketing crypto investment products and digital asset management services. Not just “any old marketing agency” knows the unique challenges crypto firms face with Google and other online ad platforms, but we do.
Our team is always up to date on current and upcoming SEM issues that might affect your advertising, and we are singularly qualified to help you navigate the new environment. With our experience and insight in your corner, you can begin to build a sustainable strategy, stop worrying about compliance issues, and focus on delighting more customers than ever before.
What Could Happen?
Crypto markets are growing rapidly, as is the regulatory landscape surrounding them. How you navigate the rules and frameworks set out by the SEC and CFTC can make or break you.
Back in 2017, for example, the SEC froze a PlexCorps ICO because they promised a 13-fold return in under 30 days. The statement was that the campaign and its claims had “all the characteristics of a cyber scam.” In the end, the two directors of PlexCorps were ordered to pay out $1 million each, plus $4.56 million from the company and $350,000 in interest. The defendants were also banned from ever participating in securities sales again.
Were these folks defrauding investors? Maybe, maybe not. The point is, it was the advertising that tipped off the regulators.
Ad restrictions were initially enacted in the interest of ensuring innocent people aren’t separated from their money because they were lulled by a too-good-to-be-true scheme. And we all know how hypnotizing great advertising can be. Get your ad in front of the right person at the right time, and you’ve got a winner. Today’s marketing automation makes it easy, which also means it’s easy to exploit—at your peril.
Like those signs that say, “no running on the pool deck,” the rules are there to protect us. But they also tend to lump all organizations and startups that focus on crypto into the same boat. With major players like JP Morgan and Fidelity getting into the crypto game, there is an air of legitimacy that simply didn’t exist before. Yes, crypto’s been on the block for a while, but it’s only now coming into its own.
Any disruptive technology tends to be shrouded in mist before it lands firmly where it’s supposed to be. And while, sadly, the world probably won’t be run on the blockchain—at least, not in our lifetime—it’s increasingly evident that crypto is finally finding its place in the world.
Google loosening its restrictions around crypto advertising signals that there is indeed some light at the end of the tunnel. No doubt there will be more changes on the horizon, but it looks like it’s all going in the right direction. With any luck, we’ll see some global standardization coming down the pike, which means marketing crypto products will be as straightforward and mainstream as it is with traditional financial services.
How We Help You Market Your Crypto and Digital Asset Products
Gate 39 Media is a team of financial industry specialists. We are marketers, developers, designers, and marketing technology specialists with a flair for crypto. We’ve helped financial services companies and crypto investment firms achieve measurable results from their marketing, and we’d love to show you what we can do for you.
Reach out today to book a call. Let’s talk about Google’s new policies and what they mean for your inbound marketing strategy.
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