Since 10th January there have been reports suggesting that Google has been blacklisting ‘ethereum’ as a keyword on its Google Ads platform. The first business to report it was Serbia-based smart contract auditing startup, Decenter.
Decenter tweeted that they saw “a hard stop” on Google Ads containing the keyword “Ethereum” starting from 9th January 2019. The company also asked Google Ads if they had introduced any new policy changes.
The reply from Google Ads was vague and strange: it stated that cryptocurrency exchanges targeting the USA and Japan can be advertised on the platform, while targeting other countries could be the reason for the ad rejection. Decenter replied that it is not a crypto exchange.
Moreover, it explained that it is a group of developers doing smart contract security audits, and that they were seeing an error message when trying to use “ethereum development services” and “ethereum security audits” as keywords. The response to this was “We’d recommend that you refer to the ‘Cryptocurrencies’ section of our policy on financial products and services.”
That section, as many of us know, prohibits ICO advertising and “ad destinations that aggregate or compare issuers of cryptocurrencies or related products.” This has nothing to do with smart contract auditing.
Decenter then went on Reddit to ask the r/Ethereum subreddit users about Google policy changes. In the post, the team stated that they had tested keywords for “ethereum smart contract audits” and “eos smart contract audits” and discovered that only those referring to ‘eos’ showed adverts.
The Reddit community’s top post on the subject said: “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.”
Some users reported having problems with other crypto-related keywords besides “Ethereum.” “I have been unable to use the ‘bitcoin’ (or even ‘blockchain’) on my google ads as well,” one said.
Decenter CEO, Andrej Cvoro, has claimed that other startups are having problems with the ‘ethereum’ keyword in January: “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.”
On 15th January, Google Ads sent Decenter another email saying: “Thank you for sending an inquiry about the status of your Google Ads with key phrases that contain the term ‘Ethereum’ as one of the keywords. Due to how sensitive it is to advertise products and/or services related in any way to cryptocurrencies, I have directly contacted the responsible department with a request for a detailed explanation of why your ads are not showing for the mentioned keywords.
Please be patient and I will get back to you with a final solution within 48 hours.”
Perhaps things will become clearer in a few days.