Google to Allow Regulated Crypto Exchanges to Buy Ads in U.S. and Japan

Siamak Masnavi

On Tuesday (25 September 2018), CNBC reported that Google, from October, will end its outright ban on all crypto-related advertising, and allow regulated crypto exchanges to buy ads on its platform in the U.S. and Japan.

On 14 March 2018, Google announced that it had updated its financial services related ads policy to disallow all crypto-related advertising; this included ads related to initial coin offerings (ICOs), crypto wallets, crypto trading advice, and even crypto programming courses. Crypto companies of any kind would not be allowed to advertise via any of Google's ads products. This ban would go into effect in June 2018.

Back then, Google's Director of Sustainable Ads, Scott Spencer, told CNBC:

"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."

What Google seemed to be doing was following in the footsteps of Facebook, which had announced its own ban on all crypto-related advertising on 30 January 2018. Ads that violated Facebook's ads policy would be banned not only on the Facebook app, but also "in other places where Facebook sells ads, including Instagram and its ad network, Audience Network, which places ads on third-party apps."

Google announced today's change in policy via the Advertising Policies support section of its website in a Change Log post titled "Update to Financial products and services policy (October 2018)":

"The Google Ads policy on Financial products and services will be updated in October 2018 to allow regulated cryptocurrency exchanges to advertise in the United States and Japan. Advertisers will need to be certified with Google for the specific country in which their ads will serve. Advertisers will be able to apply for certification once the policy launches in October. This policy will apply globally to all accounts that advertise these financial products. For more details, see About restricted financial products certification. The Financial products and services page will be updated once the policy goes into effect."

This new policy is applicable to advertisers located anywhere, but the ads can only be run in the U.S. and Japan.

Google seems to be once again copying Facebook when it comes to crypto-related advertising. On 26 June 2018, Facebook announced that it was going to relax the ban it had introduced in January, saying that from this date, it would be allowing "ads that promote cryptocurrency and related content from pre-approved advertisers" (while continuing to "prohibit ads that promote binary options and initial coin offerings").

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