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As Cryptocurrency Goes Mainstream, More Advertisers Show Up

As Cryptocurrency Goes Mainstream, More Advertisers Show Up

If there was any doubt that cryptocurrency was becoming mainstream, there’s no question now. 

Yesterday Robinhood announced that it would be releasing crypto wallets next month to select customers. The trading app previously allowed customers to buy cryptocurrencies, but with limitations on how they could be used. Now customers will be able to trade, send and receive currency in the app. 

More than 12% of Americans own digital currency. And about 78% of American and European institutional investors find digital currency appealing. And that number is only going to grow as currencies become more established.

Chairman of the SEC Gary Gensler has said that cryptocurrency is like the “Wild West” as companies seek their stake in the unregulated sector with a market cap of about $2 trillion (depending on the day—it’s still volatile, after all.) As trading platforms fight it out, we’re seeing the number of programmatic crypto advertisers increase.

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You can’t look away anymore—Crypto is here to stay

Crypto has been around for more than a decade—but its influence on the general public is just starting to take hold. 

Though most people might still be confused by the different currencies, what they are and how they work, traditional banks and institutions are starting to empower crypto owners.

Two major companies that enable crypto trading—Robinhood and Coinbase—went public this year. Other companies that accept Bitcoin (the oldest and most dominant digital currency) as payment include: PayPal, Microsoft, AT&T, WeWork, Whole Foods, Etsy, Home Depot and even Starbucks. 

The US government is trying to implement regulation that will protect investors, without curtailing innovation. At the same time, it wants to collect taxes from investors just as it would other assets, but the House and the Senate are held up on how to do this without pushing development to other countries. 

“What regulation will come, and from which agencies, is not clear yet, but make no mistake — regulation is coming for the industry,” Owen Tedford, an analyst at Beacon Policy Advisors. “Lawmakers and regulators are taking cryptocurrency concerns seriously and seem poised to make sustained efforts on multiple fronts to bring it out of the shadows.”

When major financial institutions, retailers and Uncle Sam himself are trying to figure out what to do with crypto, you know it’s no longer something just for fintech enthusiasts on Reddit. So who are the top advertisers in this fairly nascent industry?

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For the most part, advertising spend from digital currency platforms and brokers have remained stable year-over-year (January – August, 2020 vs 2021). They spent $2.49mm in 2020 compared to $2.45mm in 2021.

But the number of advertisers is increasing quickly. In 2020, there were only 27 companies who purchased advertising space. In 2021 that number rose to 70, increasing by 159%.

We also see changes in where cryptocurrency businesses are buying. In 2021 digital currency businesses only advertised across digital. This year, however, they’ve spent 14% of their budgets in print.

This new approach to print advertising reflects how the industry is striving to reach a broader audience. Companies advertise in: The Economist, Bloomberg Businessweek, Car and Driver, and The Globe and Mail.

Companies who’ve returned year-over-year include: Coin Mobile App, Hex.com, Bakkt Marketplace, Nexo, and Celsius Network.

But new advertisers are where the bulk of the spending is coming from. They include: BitYard, Anatha, BitTrust IRA, Phemex Limited, and Gemini. Spending from new advertisers accounts for 79% of all spend in this category so far this year.

As the public becomes more educated on how to purchase and use cryptocurrency, we expect to see spending increase across channels, including those considered more traditional.

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