Google is cracking down on advertisements about cryptocurrencies and related offerings like ICOs in an update to its Financial Services ad policy. In a policy change update put up yesterday, Google revealed that it will “restrict the advertisement of Contracts for Difference, rolling spot forex, and financial spread betting”, as well as ads for “Cryptocurrencies and related content (including but not limited to initial coin offerings, cryptocurrency exchanges, cryptocurrency wallets, and cryptocurrency trading advice)”. The new policy will come into effect in June this year.
Scott Spencer, Google’s Director of Sustainable Ads, told CNBC in an interview, “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.” The blanket ban will affect all companies with any kind of cryptocurrency-related offerings – even legitimate ones – and stop them from accessing Google’s vast ad network, that allows companies to advertise on Google’s own websites as well as those of third-party web partners.
Cryptocurrencies have become all the rage over the last year, particularly Bitcoin, which saw its value rise to astronomical heights in 2017, before crashing since the start of the new year. The craze for cryptocurrency investment has also led to the proliferation of many fraudulent platforms and offerings that have successfully duped investors of their money. A report by Bitcoin.com earlier this month estimated that nearly $9 million is stolen in various cryptocurrency-related frauds every day. The spread of such activity has led platforms and networks to question the value of allowing cryptocurrency-related advertising and to clamp down on the same.
Facebook announced a similar ban on all cryptocurrency-related advertising earlier this year. The policy was rolled out across all of Facebook’s offerings, including Facebook, Facebook Audience Network (its ads platform), and Instagram. Google’s ad ban comes on the back of another blog post where the company revealed that it took down over 3.2 billion ads in 2017 for violating its policies. 79 million malware-related ads were blocked, as well as 48 million ads trying to trick people into installing unwanted software. The company also removed 320,000 publishers from its ad network for violating publisher policies and blacklisted nearly 90,000 websites and 700,000 mobile apps.
Google generated $95.4 billion in ad revenue last year, and around 84 percent of Google parent company Alphabet’s revenue comes from advertising, so its important for the search giant to establish beyond doubt that its ad network is free of malware and frauds. The company also revealed last month that its internet browser Google Chrome – which accounts for about 56 percent of internet user access in the world – would start blocking certain types of ads by default in its latest version. At the time, Chrome Vice President Rahul Roy-Chowdhury wrote in a blog post, “By focusing on filtering out disruptive ad experiences, we can help keep the entire ecosystem of the web healthy, and give people a significantly better user experience than they have today.”