After what can only be deemed a semi-negative attitude towards initial coin offerings (ICOs) and cryptocurrency, search giant Google has announced that it is easing its ban on cryptocurrency ads and allowing certain material to go up in both the United States and Japan.
Here’s Some Background
Bitcoin and cryptocurrency became a major hit last year when prices started rising like a five-star soufflé. Bitcoin peaked at nearly $20,000 in December of 2017. A month later, Ethereum hit $1,400, Litecoin rose to over $300, and bitcoin cash spiked to well over $3,000. It seemed like cryptocurrency was unstoppable, and people were riding the money train.
But at the same time, some companies began acting against crypto, calling it fraudulent and misleading in many cases. Things started with an ad ban brought on by Google. Commenting that ICO scams were prominent and running through the financial spectrum like roaches, Google made the decision to ban ICO and cryptocurrency-based advertisements from its platform. In addition, ads could not contain any financial advice or information regarding digital wallets.
A company announcement claimed:
“We don’t have a crystal ball to know where the future is going to go with cryptocurrencies, but we’ve seen enough consumer harm or potential for consumer harm that it’s an area that we want to approach with extreme caution.”
When It Rains, It Pours
It was later stated that the ad ban would go into effect by mid-June.
Unfortunately, things didn’t stop there. Social media giants like Twitter and Facebook took note of Google’s maneuvers, and thus instilled their own bans on cryptocurrency-related advertisements and information. From there, bitcoin and many leading crypto assets began a period of rapid descent that they’re still suffering from today. Bitcoin, for example, is trading for about $6,300 at press time – down $400 from just 24 hours ago, while Ethereum is trading for a measly $208 – more than 80 percent less than where it stood nine months ago.
Google’s Updated Policy
Now, Google has posted the following in a blog post:
“The Google Ads policy on financial products and services will be updated in October 2018 to allow regulated cryptocurrency exchanges to advertise in the United States and Japan. Advertisers will need to be certified with Google for the specific country in which their ads will serve. Advertisers will be able to apply for certification once the policy launches in October. This policy will apply globally to all accounts that advertise these financial products. The financial products and services page will be updated once the policy goes into effect.”
Interestingly, Google appears to be following Facebook’s lead this time around. The Mark Zuckerberg-governed platform made the decision to ease its crypto ban roughly three months ago, saying it would allow “pre-approved advertisers” while still saying no to items that promoted ICOs and binary options. Google is moving in a similar direction, saying that ads pertaining to “regulated exchanges” will be allowed, while anything having to do with CNBC reports, wallets, trading advice and ICOs are against the company’s policies.
Has the Ban Been an Effective Tool?
One source claims that the initial ban was a “step in the right direction,” as it granted stronger consumer protection. The FTC states that approximately $532 million was lost in the first two months of 2018 to crypto-related spam projects. It also says that approximately $3 billion more could be lost by the time 2019 is ready to arrive thanks to ongoing financial fraud.
At the same time, it’s likely there’s still plenty of money to be made through advertising regarding a topic that’s seeping deeper and deeper into mainstream territory. Google parent company Alphabet, for example, garners about 86 percent of its revenue from ads alone, and rung in approximately $54 billion in revenue at the year’s halfway point.