The notice of the ban details a pile of questionable financial products this hits:
- Contracts for Difference
- Rolling spot forex
- Financial spread betting
- Binary options and synonymous products
- Cryptocurrencies and related content
Those first four are literally straight-up gambling — just on finance numbers instead of horses or football. They’re barely “products.”
If you’re a professional trader, or you’re an experienced investor who knows what “seriously risky” means, that’s one thing, because for you those first few are tools with specific use cases — but marketing this stuff to random Internet users is clearly misselling.
Cryptos really aren’t much better. Casual traders are just having a bet. That’s fine — if you want to drop a few quid on some ether and watch it go up and down, I can’t stop you — but advertising it as an investment product to retail customers is unethical misselling.
We shouldn’t be seeing Tube ads for cryptos, and we definitely shouldn’t be seeing random browser ads for cryptos.
The only bad thing is that this isn’t kicking in until June.
But this has clearly been coming. Finance Magnates ran a piece last week about drops in ad performance, Google blocking some ads, demonetising some YouTube videos, and even blocking AdWords or YouTube accounts. This is best explained as tightening their existing rules on ads for financial products.
Trend Micro graph of a January AdWords campaign running CoinHive in advertisements
Google’s been unhappy with cryptos and advertising for a while — YouTube had problems in January with ads running CoinHive to mine Monero in viewers’ browsers.
Crypto ads on Facebook resorted to the time-honoured email spammer technique of misspelling the names of cryptos, or using Unicode symbols that looked like the same letters. Google can see this one coming and will be looking out for it.
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