Google follows Facebook in banning ads for cryptocurrencies

Back at the end of January, Facebook banned ads promoting cryptocurrencies, now the other big advertising juggernaut, Google has followed suit. Google’s director of sustainable ads, Scot Spencer told CNBC that an update to its financial services ad policy will place a ban on any Adsense advertising about crypto.

This includes but not limited to the now very popular initial coin offerings (ICO), crypto wallets as well as anything related to trading advice. The reason is said to be a move to protect users, with the company sighting examples where consumer harm or potential for consumer harm has occurred. They are now taking an extremely cautious approach to this category of advertising which unfortunately impacts legitimate crypto services.

Here’s the full statement by Google.

In June 2018, Google will update the Financial services policy to restrict the advertisement of Contracts for Difference, rolling spot forex, and financial spread betting. In addition, ads for the following will no longer be allowed to serve:

  • Binary options and synonymous products
  • Cryptocurrencies and related content (including but not limited to initial coin offerings, cryptocurrency exchanges, cryptocurrency wallets, and cryptocurrency trading advice)

Ads for aggregators and affiliates for the following will no longer be allowed to serve:

  • Contracts for Difference
  • Rolling spot forex
  • Financial spread betting
  • Binary options and synonymous products
  • Cryptocurrencies and related content.

Advertisers offering Contracts for Difference, rolling spot forex, and financial spread betting will be required to be certified by Google before they can advertise through AdWords. Certification is only available in certain countries.

To be certified by Google, advertisers will need to:

  • Be licensed by the relevant financial services authority in the country or countries they are targeting
  • Ensure their ads and landing pages comply with all AdWords policies
  • Comply with relevant legal requirements, including those related to complex speculative financial products

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. For more details, see About restricted financial products certification.

There are really two ways to look at this. If you’re someone in the crypto industry, legitimately working hard on your startup and had planned on gaining market share by advertising, then you’ll be pretty upset at Google’s conservative position. There’s also a frustration by many in the community that the free market isn’t allowed to play out here.

The other side of the coin is uneducated consumers being swayed by advertising that suggests they should invest. We’ve also seen advertisements that ride the line of being straight up fraudulent in their claims and if you or your family members invested in something promoted as a ‘sure thing’ when its currently far more risky than the share market, you’d be all for this category-wide ban sweeping the advertising industry.

Whatever side you fall on, here’s the weird part. Google’s crypto ban doesn’t come into effect until June this year. If the problem is as severe as Google (and Facebook) say it is, then it begs the question, why not ban it instantly?

Importantly this ban doesn’t apply to blockchain, the underlying security technology that powers cryptocurrencies, so expect to see many exploit this.

More info at Google via CNBC.


Jason Cartwright
Jason Cartwright
Creator of techAU, Jason has spent the dozen+ years covering technology in Australia and around the world. Bringing a background in multimedia and passion for technology to the job, Cartwright delivers detailed product reviews, event coverage and industry news on a daily basis. Disclaimer: Tesla Shareholder from 20/01/2021

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