UPDATED | March 14, 2018:
Late on Tuesday, Google posted an announcement that in June 2018, the company will update its financial services policy to limit what financial products it will allow to be advertised through its "aggregates and affiliates." Among the soon-to-be prohibited products are "cryptocurrencies and related content (including but not limited to initial coin offerings, cryptocurrency exchanges, cryptocurrency wallets, and cryptocurrency trading advice)."
ORIGINAL | March 13, 2018:
Cryptocurrency and related financial products are undergoing a phase of regulatory scrutiny from institutions like the SEC, IRS, and CFTC. While rich debate around regulating cryptocurrencies themselves will continue, a new conversation about advertisements for the asset class is emerging.
On January 30, 2018, Facebook took an early initiative to curb the flow of "ads that promote financial products and services that are frequently associated with misleading or deceptive promotional practices, such as binary options, initial coin offerings and cryptocurrency," as published in the company's new advertising policy.
Several weeks later, Jason Roy, a senior investigator for the Manitoba Securities Commission, as well as chairman of Canada's Binary Options Task Force (BOTF), proclaimed that it was the BOTF in conjunction with the FBI which had leaned on Facebook to address concerns over cryptocurrency-related ads that "are leading to people becoming victims."
Roy went on to disclose that the two organizations have also been applying this pressure on Google for months.
When asked about this revelation, Google denied that a policy change was necessary, stating, "we already ban and enforce against misleading ads and misrepresentation (across all categories)."
However, some advertisers who use Google Ads and YouTube (a subsidiary of Google) have recently been dissatisfied with their experience, when it comes to crypto promotion.
According to Finance Magnates, an anonymous ICO marketing company has produced data tables that depict a sharp decline in its daily AdWords performance, which apparently dropped by thousands of clicks in a matter of hours. The phenomenon experienced by the unidentified crypto-advertiser could be explained by other means. For example, a self-selected AdWords delivery method utilizing the "accelerated" functionality uses up an advertisers marketing budget as fast as possible, whereas the "standard" delivery option uses Google's algorithm(s) to allocate the daily ad expenditure of a campaign over the course of an entire day.
It's also possible that, due to the spreading public awareness that many ICOs are a risky bets or downright scams, web surfers may just not be clicking the bait much anymore.
Although Google has stated that it "will rename and reorganize some … AdWords policies" this month, it is unclear if the tech powerhouse has been specifically targeting crypto ads, unbeknownst to regulators or advertisers.
We do know one thing for certain: Roy says his agency and the FBI have been having similar discussions with Google as they had with Facebook in the lead up to the social media giant's crypto ad ban.