It’s been more than a decade since “Satoshi Nakamoto,” a suspected pseudonymous person or persons, introduced Bitcoin—and cryptocurrency—to the world.
In that time, its value has skyrocketed from zero to $60k, turning thousands of ordinary people into millionaires, a lucky few into billionaires and a long list of others into oh-so-comfortable.
In 2021, the cryptocurrency market was valued at more than $3t, which came at a time when many coins reached all-time highs and crypto started to gain widespread appeal, especially among corporations and governments.
But then, in spring of 2022, the price of Bitcoin dropped to below $20,000. Ethereum, the world’s second most popular coin, decreased by more than 70% from its all-time high just a few months before.
The turn of fortune and subsequent selloffs cost the crypto market $2t.
While this volatility and opportunity is attractive to many, it’s a nightmare for ad teams at these companies.
So, how are they spending their ad dollars?
We looked at our data to find out.
Crypto Advertising Confusion
The ups and downs of the cryptocurrency market understandably have investors confused, conflicted and concerned.
Despite crypto’s value falling recently, experts predict that Ethereum could increase by 400% this year.
Bitcoin will likely rebound as well.
The market’s ebbs and flows have advertisers doing the same.
Ad spending from crypto companies and exchanges increased by 94% in Q1 2022 from Q4 2021 ($115mm vs. $59mm).
Much of this spending came from a surge during the Super Bowl that saw some of the industry’s most prominent players go prime time with ads, including Coinbase, Crypto.com, eToro and FTX.
For these companies and others with deep pockets—a 30-second Super Bowl ad cost more than $6 million last year—the Super Bowl was a chance to get in front of consumers when they knew they’d have their attention.
After all, who doesn’t like Super Bowl commercials?
Of these companies, Coinbase made the biggest splash thanks to its ability to turn a simple QR code floating around the screen into a conversion magnet.
The commercial caused so much buzz that Coinbase’s app crashed.
Dare we say that this was the crash before the crash?
Following the Super Bowl, spending plateaued (with Super Bowl spending omitted) but decreased in April by 48% MoM.
In May, spending increased by 30%.
What does this tell us about the mindsets of crypto advertisers?
It tells us they, like most, align their spending with the market.
There are two reasons for them to increase ad dollars—when things are good, and when there’s a need to generate a buzz, such as when prices plunged.
When there’s some uncertainty—like when the President takes steps to regulate cryptocurrency—the ad dollars dry up.
That said, with some reports saying that the crypto market will surpass $32 trillion by 2027, growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of more than 58%, the aqueduct will likely be more open than shut.
The only difference between crypto ad spending and spending from advertisers in other industries is that the former are doing so in rougher water.
As time goes on, crypto advertisers will learn to weather the storm.
A lot of Ad Dollars; Just a Few Advertisers
Think of the crypto market and a few names likely come to mind.
Two of them are Coinbase and Crypto.com.
While not as synonymous with the industry as these two, eToro, the social trading and multi-asset investment company, and FTX, the popular crypto exchange, are also prominent players.
These 4 companies accounted for 93% of crypto ad spending through May 2022, collectively spending around $130mm.
Not only did they all buy into advertising, they all did so with somewhat similar strategies—like Super Bowl ads.
For the next few months, spending went up and down. Crypto.com decreased its ad spending in March and April by 71% and 68%, respectively, before increasing it in May by 70%.
For eToro, the strategy was similar but saw a much smaller increase in May, which could be a result of a setback to its SPAC merger and the need to control spending.
Intricacies aside, the ebbs and flows illustrate the volatility of the market and the reactive approach advertisers are taking.
Similar strategies could also indicate that ad teams are playing a game of “follow the leader,” which makes sense given the uncharted waters.
At the same time, YoY spending is up considerably during all of these months.
For example, after spending just $2mm on ads in March 2021, crypto ad spending jumped to $20mm this year.
So, while crypto ad spending is clearly more volatile than it is in other industries, it appears that advertisers are getting bolder—at least the ones with large ad budgets.
Paving the Way for Future Crypto Advertisers
Despite the volatility, cryptocurrency continues to be a mainstay in modern society. Today, major players like Coinbase, Crypto.com, eToro and FTX are paving the way for others looking to enter a market that is already changing the way the world operates.
The stranglehold these companies have on the market is why nearly every penny invested in crypto advertising through May of this year came from them; they’re arguably the only ones that can stomach the volatility and risk.
That said, others are watching.
Although few companies outside of Coinbase, Crypto.com, eToro and FTX are spending, those that are opening their wallets are spending big. As you can see, crypto advertisers outside of the “core four” decreased spending in March and April, but increased again in May.
While Coinbase, Crypto.com, eToro and FTX currently have significant market share, they’re also writing the advertising playbook for others. As crypto advertising becomes less of a guessing game, more companies will rely on the advertising playbook being created by these core four crypto companies.
When they do, the battle for digital advertising supremacy among cryptocurrency companies and exchanges will truly begin.
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