Google, with the largest internet advertising pool on the planet, has announced formally that it will be restricting cryptocurrencies and related content (including, but not limited to initial coin offerings (ICOs), cryptocurrency exchanges, cryptocurrency wallets, and cryptocurrency trading advice). This will also encompass affiliates and aggregators. The move comes just a little over a month after Facebook, the second largest internet advertising pool, also moved to ban cryptocurrency related advertising. Together, the two companies comprise some 60% of all internet advertising.
Confirmation of Google Banning Cryptocurrency Advertising
Over the past few days there have been rumors and anecdotal evidence that Google would move to ban cryptocurrency advertising, but until March 13th there was no proof. That changed when Google published Financial Services: New restricted financial products policy (June 2018). The publication was the company’s official announcement that it “will update the Financial services policy to restrict the advertisement of” cryptocurrencies and related content. The ban is scheduled to begin in June 2018, and the language indicates that some companies may be able to apply for an exemption.
According to the announcement, advertisers can be approved for Google Adwords advertising by complying with the following requirements:
1. Be licensed by the relevant financial services authority in the country or countries they are targeting
2. Ensure their ads and landing pages comply with all Adwords policies
3. Comply with relevant legal requirements, including those related to complex speculative financial products
The announcement goes on to say that “Advertisers can request certification with Google starting March 2018 when the application form is published. This policy will apply globally to all accounts that advertise these financial products.”
The new policy is partially in response to the so called “bad ads” problem that Google is constantly battling. Metrics released in conjunction with the cryptocurrency news show that in 2017 Google blocked more than 3 billion ads; more than double the number from 2016. Some of these ads send people to sites where they are tricked into clicking links or ads, others send users to malware infected sites, and some target users to get them to install unneeded and unwanted software products.
Business as Usual at Google
The change is just business as usual for Google, who added 20 publisher policies and 28 advertiser policies in 2017 as new threats emerged or simply to improve the ad experience of end users.
Google saw ad revenues increase 20% in 2017 from the prior year, with the company reporting nearly $100 billion in ad related revenue. Because Google has such a large impact on the advertising ecosystem they worry that this type of ban will also negatively impact the broader cryptocurrency ecosystem catching up legitimate operations and businesses in the name of stopping bad actors in the niche.