Google will ban cryptocurrency-related advertising from its platforms starting from June, the company has said.
This will be valid for all promotional campaigns for initial coin offerings, Bitcoin exchanges, digital wallets to store the assets as well as trading advice. Google has taken this decision because there was not enough appropriate consumer protection for the highly speculative and complex trades, according to experts.
This follows a similar move by Facebook in January. Facebook has emphasized many firms in the sector were not acting in good faith. The decision by Google will affect ads displayed both in its search results and YouTube.
It will also affect those placed on third-party sites via its ad platforms. Bitcoin, Ethereum and Ripple’s value have all dipped after the news.
Google toughens other rules as well
Some users of Google's AdWords service had reported a fall in the performance of their cryptocurrency campaigns before the announcement. But Google said it had not made any policy changes at that point.
Google also said it will toughen rules for ads relating to other financial products. These include spread betting and contracts-for-difference, where sellers promise to provide compensation for an asset's value gain over a period of time, and buyers promise to cover a loss.
The company also said 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.
After Facebook’s move, some businesses have tried to find a loophole, misspelling words like "bitcoin" on purpose in their ads. Google’s policies will try to take precautions around tactics like this, the company said.
Increase in bad ads
Google’s new policy comes with the publication of its annual bad ads report. The report reviews annually the number of malicious, deceptive and controversial ads Google erases from its search network.
Google said in 2017, it removed more than 3.2 billion advertisements from the web, compared with 1.7 billion in 2016. It’s not predicted that the 3.2 ads pulled in 2017, or the coming cryptocurrency ban, will have a serious effect on sales. Google generated $95.4 billion in ad revenue in 2017, 20 percent higher than 2016.
Google has said AdWords users will have to be licensed by the regulators of the countries they are targeting as well as be certified by Google itself. Users would have to make sure ads and their landing pages comply with all AdWords policies.
Users would also have to “comply with relevant legal requirements, including those related to complex speculative financial products.” The company said advertisers could request certification with Google starting March 2018 when the application form is published.
Christine Lagarde, the managing director of the International Monetary Fund has also warned about cryptocurrencies on Tuesday. "Money laundering and terrorist financing is only one dimension of the threat," she said. "The rapid growth of crypto-assets, the extreme volatility in their traded prices, and their ill-defined connections to the traditional financial world could easily create new vulnerabilities. We must welcome their potential but also recognize their risks."