Google is reported to be blocking adverts containing the word “Ethereum,” in the latest example of the search platform blacklisting ads in the cryptocurrency space.
The development was first reported by Decenter, a smart contract security audit startup based in Belgrade. According to a tweet, the firm said it had noticed a “hard stop” on ads containing references to “Ethereum,” including for terms such as “Ethereum security audits.”
Decenter tweeted: “We are seeing a hard stop on Google Ads containing “Ethereum” as the keyword in the last two days. Is anyone else noticing the same change? Where [sic] there any new policy changes introduced @GoogleAds?”
First posted on January 10, the tweet drew a response from the Google Ads account, which said that while cryptocurrency exchanges could run ads targeting the U.S. and Japan, there may be difficulties in advertising in other markets, noting, “Advertisers may promote cryptocurrency exchanges that target the United States and Japan. Hence, you may not be able to run ads which target other countries. Hope this helps.”
Hi there, thanks for reaching out. Advertisers may promote cryptocurrency exchanges that target the United States and Japan. Hence, you may not be able to run ads which target other countries. Hope this helps. Do let us know if you have any additional questions. -Chetan
— Google Ads (@GoogleAds) January 10, 2019
After Decenter clarified that they were not in fact promoting Ethereum as a cryptocurrency, nor were they a cryptocurrency exchange, the Google account urged them to consult the Cryptocurrencies section in their terms and conditions:
“Although we wouldn’t be able to preemptively confirm if your keyword is eligible to trigger ads, we’d recommend that you refer to the ‘Cryptocurrencies’ section of our policy on Financial products and services.”
Discussion of the matter spilled over onto Reddit, where Decenter were joined by others who had experienced the same sudden shut down of ads relating to Ethereum. Some users pointed to the complicated politics around cryptocurrencies at Google, which saw the firm swing from completely unrestricted advertising to a blanket ban last year, before relaxing the policy for some qualifying advertisers.
“Google has various political and economic agendas, and they are quite willing to use their various services to promote their preferences. AdSense and YouTube are notorious for this, but there have been some incidents regarding the Play Store as well.”
Others said the development was connected to the proliferation of scams around ethereum and Segwit, which were attributed to the decision to restrict ads for relevant terms on the Google platform in the wake of the blanket ban.
According to Decenter, the problem is affecting other advertisers too. It stated, “We are aware of at least five different competitors that used to have Google Ads shown for search phrases such as ‘Ethereum smart contract audit,’ all of which stopped showing at the same time.”
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