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Google to allow crypto ETF ads as Bitcoin ETF approval nears

The search giant banned ads before, but with a Bitcoin ETF highly likely to get approved, Google's crypto ad policies are lining up for a few changes.

Google to allow crypto ETF ads as Bitcoin ETF approval nears

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Google recently announced critical changes to its crypto and related financial products advertising policies. The new framework will take effect on January 29, 2024.

According to Google, the changes are based on new criteria through their certification process. Once the policy takes effect, Cryptocurrency Coin Trusts can create and serve ads on Google. However, direct promotions that imply or offer purchases, holding, or swapping are prohibited. Cryptocurrency Coin Trusts, as defined by Google, are financial products enabling investors to trade shares in trusts holding extensive digital currency pools.

Businesses that accept virtual currencies for payments or sell mining hardware may also advertise on Google, provided they follow current Google Ads regulations. Notably, educational content on crypto is also allowed on the platform.

On the other hand, NFT-based games and platforms are allowed, but only to a certain extent. Google says blockchain-based games that offer purchases of items, characters, weaponry, or armor with improved stats and the like are allowed as long as these are consumed in-game.

“Promotion of games where players can wager or stake NFTs in exchange for the opportunity to win anything of real-world value (including other NFTs),” Google said.

Hardware wallets that hold private keys to crypto and NFTs are also allowed to advertise under certain conditions. The policy also details the requirements for advertising cryptocurrency exchanges and software wallets, stressing the necessity of licensure and adherence to local laws and industry standards.

The policy also outlines several ‘no-go zones,’ banning ads for initial coin offerings (ICOs), DeFi trading protocols, and a litany of other crypto-related ventures not under the scope of current regulatory frameworks. This extends to ICO pre-sales, cryptocurrency loans, initial DEX offerings, token liquidity pools, unhosted software wallets, and unregulated DApps. Ads aggregating or comparing issuers of cryptocurrencies or related products are also prohibited.

The timing of this policy update from Google is impeccable at the very least: right now, ETF analysts from Bloomberg estimate that the chances of a US spot Bitcoin ETF getting in about a month stand at 90%. After years of rejecting spot crypto ETFs, Bloomberg ETF analyst James Seyffart suggests that the SEC may be working on several Bitcoin ETF approvals with a decision window between January 8 and 10, based on typical SEC procedures and timelines.

There are currently 13 applicants for a Bitcoin ETF, including ARK Invest (and 21Shares), BlackRock, Grayscale, Fidelity, VanEck, and Valkyrie.

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