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Advertising an ICO or Token Sale? Social Media Bans Means it’s Time to Say Goodbye to the Usual Suspects

By Geena Pandolfi | On April 5, 2018

The cryptocurrency market is alive and well, in 2017 alone ICOs raised $4 Billion and it continues to soar in 2018. While the market is booming, it is still relatively new, largely unregulated and full of uncertainty. As a result, we’re starting to see a significant uptick in new regulation coming to light, countries continuing to ban sales altogether and a general uneasiness as potential investors try to assess the validity of many sales.

In recent weeks, the growing number of high profile scams and increasing uncertainty around fraudulent vs. legitimate offerings has led to some significant changes for how these sales can be advertised. For PR professionals and marketers looking to help clients advertise their ICO/token sale, it can be incredibly difficult to keep up with the constantly changing regulations and many are still learning how to legally navigate the space. To-date, social media marketing has been a big part of most crypto campaigns to drive awareness among potential investors, but within the last two months alone, some of the biggest social media platforms have started banning advertising for cryptocurrencies and ICOs.

With the increasing number of ICOs coming to market, it is an impossible task for anyone, much less platforms like Twitter or Facebook, to keep on top of which ICOs and cryptocurrencies are genuine versus frauds, so many have decided to halt advertising completely in order to protect their users.

We’ve rounded up the top social platforms and their updated crypto advertising policies that were recently announced. For teams that would have typically allocated a large portion of their marketing spend across Facebook/Twitter ads and Google AdWords, it’s time to get creative and explore new opportunities.


The first of many to come, in January the social network banned cryptocurrency advertising in an effort to cut down on ICO scams and fraudulent token sales. Facebook announced the change to its policy in a blog post stating it will prohibit, “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.” It added that this change is part of an ongoing effort to improve the integrity and security of its ads and its wants its users to continue to discover and learn about new products and services through Facebook ads without fear of scams or deception.


In early March, Google announced that it would introduce a ban to all crypto-related ads in its financial products policy starting in June 2018. Under Google’s newly updated policy, no advertisements for “cryptocurrencies and related content including initial coin offerings, cryptocurrency exchanges, cryptocurrency wallets, and cryptocurrency trading advice,” will be accepted. According to CNBC, the ban affects all of Google’s ad platforms including on the Google site as well as third-party sites in its network including YouTube.


In March, Snapchat announced that it had begun implementing changes to its advertising policy to ban ICOs, according to Cheddar. Unlike Facebook and Google, the Snapchat restrictions only apply to ICOs and token sales but it still allows more general cryptocurrency ads. So far, Snapchat has not commented on if they will expand the ban to include other crypto activities in the future.


Twitter is the newest adopter of a crypto-free advertising policy. On March 26th, Reuters confirmed the rumors that it would follow other social media giants in banning these ads. The new policy will ban ads on ICOs/token sales as well as those from cryptocurrency exchanges and wallet services unless they are public companies and are listed on certain major stock exchanges. Twitter is trying to prevent potentially fraudulent companies from engaging with others in a deceptive way – especially after cybersecurity giant John McAfee’s Twitter account was hacked and started promoting an obscure token earlier this year.

With all the changes going on in the crypto space, it can be hard to navigate it alone. If you need help keeping up with the market and want to learn what options are still available for advertising cryptocurrencies, ICOs and token sales, contact Affect’s Blockchain and Cryptocurrency practice lead Katie Creaser at kcreaser@affect.com.

Geena Pandolfi