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Marketing Briefing: On crypto advertising in tough times

  • Crypto firms' glow is turning into a shadow, which has led to lots of these companies cutting back on their glittery ads.
  • But does that mean they should be cutting back on marketing altogether?
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Marketing Briefing: On crypto advertising in tough times

Last year saw crypto firms taking positive marketing messages to the next level, with shiny Super Bowl ads and celebrity-inked TV commercials.

But crypto firms' marketing madness seems to have faded. In fact, a whole lot of these companies seem to be spending a whole lot less on advertising this year.

Marketing spend on sites like Facebook and YouTube is down at least 90% compared to earlier this year, according to market researcher Sensor Tower.

Meanwhile, in terms of TV ad spend, CoinDesk, CoinFlip, Crypto.com, eToro, FTX, Gemini, and Grayscale went from a monthly total of $85 million in February to $36,000 in July, according to data from ISpot.

The drastic drop in spending isn’t out of the blue. It seems to be largely linked with crypto’s recent bumps putting a damper on the party:

  • Bitcoin’s value has dropped by around 70% since its all-time high back in November 2021
  • Companies like Coinbase are facing renewed scrutiny from regulators 
  • The crypto sector’s market value has dropped from $3 trillion in late 2021 to below $1 trillion this month

Putting things in context

When things are going well, marketing messages are more straightforward – as in, ‘don't miss out!’ 

But when things are going bad, how do you maintain user trust? Crypto firms are now finding themselves in a place where they have to switch their messaging from, 'You don’t want to miss this flight' to ‘Nothing to worry about folks; it’s just turbulence.’

But how do you do that?

Kristin Steele is the founder of LaunchPad Creative, a marketing firm focused solely on financial firms. According to her, the secret sauce is really the recipe to the secret sauce – that is, being transparent.

“Transparency. Yes, it is a buzzword, but all investors want it. During this time when crypto market volatility is heightened, transparency is key. Crypto managers should consider providing their investors and prospects with regular updates, write whitepapers that speak to the crypto industry and showcase their knowledge, and host frequent webinars or small group meetings to discuss current developments in the crypto industry,” she said. “Positioning oneself as a crypto industry authority will help investors better understand the asset class while also gaining comfort with the portfolio manager.”

Another thing Steele mentions is taking steps to establish authority on the topic and becoming a trusted source on crypto:

“We suggest crypto fund managers spend time building trust with their investors and prospects by having regular touchpoints, authoring industry thought pieces, and becoming a media source. Providing commentary in a reputable industry publication or appearing on Bloomberg News will go a long way to demonstrating authority in the space.”

The main takeaway may be that crypto firms shouldn’t be going into hiding right now. Rather, they should be tweaking their advertising efforts to fit a context of uncertainty, delivering messages that are more about being reassuring and less about being sensational.

Three questions with Jennifer Hunnewell, head of marketing at Anchorage Digital

Anchorage Digital is a digital asset platform. In 2021, it became the first federally chartered cryptocurrency bank.

In this week’s Q&A, Jennifer Hunnewell, head of marketing at the company, talks about what it takes to build trust through advertising.

How has Anchorage's marketing messaging changed compared to earlier this year?

“Our overall marketing message remains the same: Anchorage Digital is the trusted digital asset platform for institutions, and the federally regulated, crypto-native partner bank of choice for institutions seeking to offer or expand their crypto products and services. After recent market events, our regulatory standing as the first operational federally chartered digital asset bank in the US has become even more important for our current and prospective clients. 

Anchorage has been highly responsive to our clients since our founding, adding services based on their needs.

In recent months, we have focused on the strength of our financing program, which has emerged as an industry leader in smart risk-management and safe lending practices. Another area of focus has been our NFT services, a unique market offering since we are the first digital asset bank to offer regulated, institutional NFT custody.”

What are some of the projects you're currently working on and how would you characterize them?

“In recent months, Anchorage has been working to expand our global marketing footprint. We host events and prepare leaders for speaking engagements across North America, Europe, and Asia, covering all client segments including traditional finance, fintech, and crypto. Education is a key pillar of our marketing efforts as a crypto-native company, so we partner with a wide range of institutions and regulators to help them better understand the digital asset ecosystem.  

Our clients are sophisticated institutions, crypto-native VCs, and protocols alike, so we make sure they hear about our latest offerings via case studies, product marketing collateral, and video content. We also prioritize leading conversations around clear regulations for our industry, whether through industry associations, thought leadership, or meetings with policymakers.”

What are the biggest challenges and obstacles you're currently facing, and how are you overcoming them?

“We face a challenge of choice due to the growth of our client base, partners, products, and services: where and how should we prioritize our marketing efforts? It’s a good problem to have, but we’re still being judicious with our messaging.  

Marketing at Anchorage is guided by making crypto a safe and regulated industry, driven by our mission to bridge the worlds of crypto and traditional finance, and bolstered by our commitment to addressing client demand.”

What we're reading

Revolut launches its biggest-ever marketing campaign (AltFi)

Capital One bets big on marketing (Washington Business Journal)

Thailand increases scrutiny towards crypto ads (ET)

More banks zeroing in on digital marketing (The Financial Brand)

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