How to Advertise in the Cryptocurrency Industry
Advertising is a special challenge for cryptocurrency startups because so many of the largest ad networks prohibit cryptocurrency in their advertising policies.
When the crypto bubble reached its height in 2017 and popped, Google, Facebook, and others issued blanket cryptocurrency bans the following years.
It’s understandable that these companies want to protect their users from scams and unrealistic promises on their ad platforms.
Issuing a blanket ban on commerce in merchant currencies, however, punishes an entire industry instead of removing individual actors for specific violations.
This kind of policy is blatantly anti-commercial and anti-industrial. It’s also an admission of defeat in the face of a specific, technical problem: How to make as much ad revenue as possible by having as many legitimate and professional advertisers on your platform as you can while weeding out whatever makes it a bad experience for the user.
That problem is on the face of it not nearly as overwhelming as the myriad challenges and edge cases that have been sorted out by a can do Silicon Valley attitude and some engineering. And the rewards are certainly worth it. The crypto industry is massive.
Double Standards for Crypto Advertising
There is also no shortage of scammy, ridiculous ads for all kinds of other industries’ absolute junk products on these platforms.
Google “penis enlargement” and you’ll find Google allows merchants to place ads for their business selling penis enlargement products. Google even serves ads for healing crystals. Yet the company banned all ICOs from Google Adwords in 2018.
So it’s clear enough that the wildly disruptive cryptocurrency industry has to play by a different set of rules than everyone else.
Entrepreneurs working to offer goods and services in this promising technical revolution are guilty until proven innocent, scams until proven professionals.
They’ll also have to dig deeper, find more creative ways to reach prospects, and work harder on optimizing their product and their sales offering to maximize opportunities.
The following is a review of ad policies on major advertising networks where cryptocurrency businesses can’t advertise, can advertise with no special permission, and can advertise only with a special permit from the ad platform.
The ad policies are linked, and the commentary about them is all current as of the date of publication, but note these policies can change quickly.
Google and Facebook’s Previous Cryptocurrency Advertising Bans are Now Restrictions
Shortly after crypto winner started in early 2018, Facebook and Google banned all cryptocurrency related advertising on the two most massive online ad platforms.
A few months later the search and social media giants relaxed their bans, but Google says only regulated merchants with special permission can advertise on its platform.
“Ads may not promote cryptocurrency and related products and services without our prior written permission.”
So if you’re running a legitimate cryptocurrency business offering a real product, and if your business plan and marketing methods are all above board and white hat, then you can advertise crypto goods and services on Google and Facebook.
It will, however, take extra effort over more traditional businesses. But if your crypto business is doing something real that shouldn’t stand in anybody’s way.
Crypto Ads are Still Banned on LinkedIn
LinkedIn’s advertising policy groups cryptocurrency in with gambling and sweepstakes:
“Even if legal in the applicable jurisdiction, LinkedIn does not allow ads related to gambling, sweepstakes or the sale of virtual currency or cryptocurrency.”
Too bad that’s what LinkedIn thinks of cryptocurrency, since it was founded by Reid Hoffman, one of the “PayPal” mafia. It could be said that Entrepreneur called cryptocurrency gambling too, when it said Hoffman is betting big on Bitcoin.
Microsoft Ad Policy Does Not Currently Permit Any Cryptocurrency Advertising
Although for some time Microsoft did allow cryptocurrency advertising on its ad platforms, crypto ads are now prohibited by Microsoft:
“Advertising for the following products and services is not permitted:
-Cryptocurrencies and cryptocurrency related products including, but not limited to initial coin offerings, cryptocurrency exchanges, and cryptocurrency wallets.”
So even a transaction as straightforward as a hardware wallet, an electronic device in exchange for a retail purchase price, is prohibited by Microsoft at this time.
Snap Allows Crypto Ads With Permission
Snap Inc says:
“Ads for financial products and services must clearly and prominently disclose all applicable material terms and conditions to consumers prior to the submission of an application.”
“Cryptocurrency including: Wallets, Trading Platforms, and Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) unless prior approval is obtained from Snap.”
Twitter Does Allow Limited Crypto Advertising to Some Crypto Businesses with Certain Restrictions
Initial Coin Offerings and any kind of cryptocurrency token sales are globally prohibited on Twitter, but currency exchange, trading, and related services, cryptocurrency exchanges, and cryptocurrency hot wallets provided by publicly traded companies are allowed with certain restrictions and a special permit from Twitter.
Taboola Prohibits Cryptocurrency Advertising
You would think an ad network with standards as low as Taboola’s would let anyone advertise anything on their third party ad platform.
Yet cryptocurrency advertising is currently not allowed on Taboola. But enjoy your “new sleeping pill ‘better than Ambien’ and no prescription.”
Outbrain Prohibits All Crypto Advertising Except Editorial
Another major third party ad network in the same league as Taboola, Outbrain also restricts cryptocurrency advertising. It explicitly forbids advertising digital currency exchanges, ICOs, and investment and trading advice. Outbrain does make an exception for “editorial content from premium publisher sites,” that discuss cryptocurrency.
Reddit Allows Crypto Advertising
Cryptocurrency entrepreneurs are allowed to advertise on Reddit, but they cannot advertise crypto payment cards, wallets, ICOs, or any individual currencies or tokens themselves. That still leaves a world of opportunities open.
Crypto Ads Are Fine on Tumblr
There is currently no ban on advertising cryptocurrency goods and services to Tumblr’s audience. In the past the Tumblr user base, while smaller than that of Facebook, has been shown to spend more money on average after being referred from an advertisement on Tumblr to a retail website.
Advertising on The Cryptosphere
While platforms like Google and Facebook have globally massive users bases, the audiences on niche cryptocurrency news and information websites are the most valuable prospects for cryptocurrency businesses.
These audiences are more educated than general audiences about merchant currencies and digital assets, more likely to already use or own cryptocurrency, and more likely to have problems related to crypto that they would pay to have solved.
To name just three examples out of many:
Crypto startups can currently advertise to a large number of high quality users on Bitcoin.com and they can even pay with bitcoin to advertise on CCN.
(Disclosure: Hacked and CCN both belong to the same company, Hawkfish AS, Norway.)