A 2023 update to Google’s ad guidelines allowing approved Cryptocurrency Coin Trusts targeting the United States to advertise on its platform has now taken effect from January 29, 2024. The move will likely allow the recently approved spot Bitcoin ETFs to advertise on the search engine.
While this development coincides with the recent spate of SEC spot Bitcoin approvals, the decision to allow crypto ETFs preceded the SEC verdict, as it published the policy update on its Advertising Policies Help change log on December 6, 2023. Despite the guideline change only coming into effect yesterday, popular Bitcoin ETF issuers are already running ads on the world’s largest advertising network (Google). Adverts from popular spot Bitcoin ETF issuers BlackRock and Franklin Templeton are already running in the Google ecosystem (allegedly).
Despite the policy update, promoting crypto ETFs on Google is subject to some restrictions. For one, an advertiser must be certified by Google before publishing an advert in the category. Also, they must expectedly comply with any peculiar local laws for any region targeted in the United States.
What Cryptocurrency Coin Trusts Mean
The policy change didn’t explicitly refer to spot crypto ETFs. It described the new products as Cryptocurrency Coin Trusts. Additionally, the December 6 announcement clarified what it meant by cryptocurrency coin trusts, making it unambiguously clear that spot Bitcoin ETFs fall into the umbrella.
“Examples (non-exhaustive): financial products that allow investors to trade shares in trusts holding large pools of digital currency,” the statement said while describing cryptocurrency coin trusts, almost perfectly describing the recently-approved spot Bitcoin ETFs.
For the uninitiated, spot crypto ETFs refer to a category of financial products that offer investors exposure to the value of the underlying cryptocurrency without requiring them to own the asset in question. A spot crypto issuer typically acquires a significant holding of cryptocurrencies and issues shares based on the value of the crypto holdings.
The idea is to mirror the price movements of Bitcoin with conventional stocks to allow investors exposure to the long-term growth potential of the cryptocurrency without requiring them to go through the relatively tech-savvy procedure of setting up a cryptocurrency wallet. Before the policy revision that enabled ads promoting spot crypto ETF products, it was against Google’s policies to promote them or similar financial products on the Google search engine.
Why Google is Revising its Crypto ETF Guidelines
Crypto coin trusts do not violate fundamental Google principles. The prior opposition to the financial product was due to regulatory uncertainty from authorities in the United States over the years. When the SEC started showing signs that it was willing to accommodate Bitcoin trusts, Google took the hint, interpreting it as a mark of approval by US regulators on that specific asset class. This development informed the recent policy revision, allowing ads related to crypto coin trusts.
Readers should note that the recent policy revision for spot crypto ETFs only applies to the US region. Other countries and territories should not expect any change to the status quo anytime soon. However, we expect the changes to roll over to some countries and territories once they allow spot crypto ETFs.
What is Still Prohibited?
While the recent policy revision is not a no-holds-barred approval of all spot crypto ETF ads, some restrictions will still apply. For one, advertisers must be certified by Google to run ads about Cryptocurrency Coin Trusts.
The requirements for certification are the same as for restricted financial products, which includes having the relevant license from a local regulator to offer the financial product in question. This requirement restricts spot crypto ETF ads to companies like BlackRock and Franklin Templeton with SEC approval to offer Bitcoin ETFs.
The policy updates about cryptocurrencies and related products also clarified that the newly accepted financial product ad category is only available in the United States. America is currently the only country that allows spot crypto ETFs globally. The policy update may also come to Google Ads users in Hong Kong very soon, as the region is currently reviewing its first spot crypto ETF application.
Ads for initial coin offerings (ICOs), unhosted software wallets, token liquidity pools, cryptocurrency loans, crypto trading signals, crypto investment advice, and affiliate sites containing crypto broker reviews remain prohibited despite the latest policy update.