Google will ban all cryptocurrency ads

Online ads promoting cryptocurrencies and other unregulated financial products will be removed 

Google will ban all cryptocurrency ads

The internet giant has decided to ban all cryptocurrency related ads starting June. This announcement came with the release of Google’s annual bad ads report and it is part of a broader strategy against unregulated financial products.

Leer en español: Google prohibirá todos los anuncios de criptomonedas

Scott Spencer, Google's Director of Sustainable Ads, said in a blog post that “in order to make money from Google ads, you have to play by rules— that means respecting the user experience more than the ads”. Therefore, Google has updated certain policies and created new ones in order to protect users from what they call “emerging threats”.

Policy changes will not only deal with cryptocurrency ads but also with other speculative financial products such as binary options and contracts for difference (CFDs). Binary options are a form trading based on a yes or no question. Simply put, traders make a prediction about stocks, indices, currencies or commodities; they bet a certain amount of money and set an expiration day. The payoff is the fixed monetary amount or nothing at all.

Similarly, CFDs are a form of trading that allow people to bet on price movements in the global financial market without actually owning any assets. Both CFDs and binary options are some of the most popular financial instruments available to online traders, but they are also known for high risk. The UK's Financial Conduct Authority found that 82% of people who use CFDs lose money, which suggests that these products “are more akin to gambling than investing”, as Business Insider reported.

Authorities are also concerned about cryptocurrencies because, with their popularity, deceptive advertisements and scams have also started to proliferate. “Cryptocurrency trading has attracted scam artists as it is unregulated, with ICOs being used to generate millions of dollars that can simply disappear along with their operators, leaving investors out of pocket”, said The Guardian in a recent article about Google’s updated policies.

The internet search giant has decided to ban all online ads promoting cryptocurrencies, ICOs, wallets and exchanges. Similar measures were taken by Facebook earlier this year and some businesses found ways around the ban by changing spelling (replacing “o” with a zero, for example). However, a representative from Google said the new policies will try to anticipate this type of techniques.

While Alphabet, Google´s parent company, makes roughly 85% of its revenue from advertising, Bloomberg has stated that a serious impact on sales as a result of the updated policies is unlikely.  Although Google removed more than 3.2 billion ads from the web in 2017, the company generated $95.4 billion dollars in ad revenue, 20 percent more than in 2016. 

“Our work to protect the ads ecosystem doesn't stop here”, said the Director of Sustainable Ads in his post. “As consumer trends evolve, as our methods to protect the open web get better, so do online scams. Improving the ads experience across the web, whether that's removing harmful ads or intrusive ads, will continue to be a top priority for us”.


Latin American Post | Paula Bautista

Copy edited by Susana Cicchetto