Google to ban ads on cryptocurrencies and Initial Coin Offerings


The US search engine giant will soon stop advertisements promoting cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ripple under wider efforts to crack down on the marketing of a new breed of high-risk financial products.

Google Logo (Picture alliance/dpa/O.Spata)

Alphabet Inc’s Google said on Wednesday it will ban advertisements for unregulated or speculative financial products like binary options, cryptocurrency and financial spread betting among others.

“Improving the ads experience across the web, whether that’s removing harmful ads or intrusive ads, will continue to be a top priority for us,” said Scott Spencer, director of sustainable ads, after the company announced the updates to its policy.

Read more: Despite bad press, Japanese still snapping up cryptocurrencies

Google rival Facebook took a similar step in January, leaving the world’s two largest internet ad sellers out of reach of the emerging digital currency sector.

Bitcoin, the largest cryptocurrency by market value, pared an advance of about 2 percent after Google’s announcement. Rival coins Ripple and Ether also pared gains.

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At the moment, Google queries for terms like “binary options” and “buy bitcoin” produce four ads at the top of the results. Some aggressive businesses are exploiting a loophole by purposely misspelling words like “bitcoin” in their ads. A Google spokeswoman said the company’s policies will try to anticipate workarounds like this.

‘Bad ads’ crackdown

In a separate blog post Tuesday, Google said it took down 3.2 billion ads that violated its advertising policies in 2017, nearly double the number of ads it removed in 2016. Last year, for instance, Google pulled 79 million ads for luring online clickers to websites with malware.

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Google is also accelerating a push against misleading content. The company suspended 7,000 customer accounts for ads that impersonated a news article, which is called “tabloid cloaking” by Google. It also blocked more than 12,000 websites for copying information from other publications.

According to analysts, Google’s bad ads crackdown is unlikely to have a serious impact on sales. Last year, Google generated $95.4 billion (€76.9 billion) in ad revenue, up 20 percent from 2016.

uhe/aos (Reuters, dpa)



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