Google reverses ban on crypto ads, maintains restrictions on DeFi and ICOs

abdelaziz Fathi

Alphabet Inc.’s Google is loosening its ban on crypto ads, announcing it now accepts adverts from pre-approved companies offering cryptocurrency products in certain circumstances.

google

The company clamped down on blockchain and bitcoin-related ads three years ago amid a wave of scams and shady schemes in the industry.

The world’s largest digital advertising seller has updated its policy on financial products and services to set up a vetting process that allows the promotion of some crypto products.

Advertisers wanting to run ads for cryptocurrency products and services can apply to help Google assess their eligibility. This may include any licenses they have obtained, and other relevant public background information on their business.

For those operating in the US, they must be either registered with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, aka FinCEN, or a federal or state chartered bank entity.

“The cryptocurrency products and services may only be advertised if the advertiser is a licensed provider, the products and ads comply with local laws and industry standards, and the account is certified by Google,” the policy page states.

Google will let approved applicants run crypto ads on its search engine and third-party sites, including YouTube, Gmail, or Blogger – as long as they go through the company’s certification process.

However, the internet giant said that severe restrictions still exist for initial coin offerings, decentralized finance (DeFi), services that aggregate or compare cryptocurrencies, and promotions of specific digital assets. The blacklist also includes websites that host cryptocurrency trading signals, cryptocurrency investment advice, aggregators or affiliate sites containing related content or broker reviews.

In 2018, Google took a far less crypto-friendly approach, when it barred ads promoting ‎cryptocurrencies and ICOs on its own platforms and third-‎party websites. The move came after a similar announcement by social media giants Facebook and Twitter.

But Google peeled back that blanket restriction on crypto adverts five months later, allowing pre-approved regulated exchanges such as Coinbase to advertise under certain circumstances.

Reversing this policy comes as public interest in cryptocurrencies and related activities has ballooned, which could boost Alphabet’s advertising sales that generated $147 billion in revenue last year.

Facebook and twitter also loosened their rules around blockchain and digital currencies. Some types of ads remain banned on the social media agents, or, at the very least, require pre-approval.

Facebook in particular requires pre-approval for advertisements that directly promote cryptocurrencies or exchanges, but ads for ICOs or other crypto-powered fundraising are banned.

Despite the previous ban, Google has been one of the most active ‎blockchain corporate investors since 2012. Through its VC arm, Google Ventures, it has invested in many companies focused on ‎the blockchain technology. Most recently, it led a $120 million fundraising for Blockchain.com, the cryptocurrency exchange and wallet provider.

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