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Gaining Users without a Stadium or a Super Bowl Ad

2021 was a tipping point for crypto.

Interest in and coverage about crypto shifted from fringe blogs and social networks to the mainstream media.

And this shift is supported by actual user interest. A survey of 500 US consumers found that 31.2% said that they’d definitely use or invest in cryptocurrencies. An additional 48.8% said that they might use or invest in crypto, indicating that 80% of US consumers are open to cryptocurrencies.

When consumers not open to crypto in the same survey were asked why nearly half cited a lack of understanding as the top reason.  As crypto moves through the innovation adoption curve from innovators and early adopters to more mainstream users, market education and ease of use will be critical for successful user acquisition for the early and late majorities.

Not only has crypto become a mainstream news item, but companies in the industry have become premium marketers, too. Cryptocurrency exchange acquired the naming rights to the home arena of the Los Angeles Lakers (Staples Center), Clippers, and Kings in a 20-year $700 million deal.  The company also inked major deals with the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and Formula 1 racing, as well as marketing sponsorships with sports clubs including Angel City FC, Serie A, Paris Saint-German, and the Montréal Canadiens. Fellow exchange FTX acquired the naming rights to the Miami Heat’s stadium now known as FTX Arena for $135 million last March. Social investment network eToro is a major investor in European football (soccer), sponsoring teams across the content including eight Serie A teams in Italy; UK Premier League teams Arsenal, Aston Villa, Crystal Palace, Leeds United, Southampton, and Newcastle United; and German Bundesliga with FC Augsburg, 1. FC Cologne, Hamburger SV (Bundesliga 2), Union Berlin and Vfl Wolfsburg, and Eintracht Frankfurt.  And all three companies have purchased ads in the 2022 Super Bowl for a reported $6.5 million for 30 seconds, prompting many to call this an ‘arms race’.

But this doesn’t mean that an exchange or other marketer in the cryptocurrency eco-system needs hundreds of million dollars to make an impact.

We prefer to think about crypto marketing according to Brandformance – marketing campaigns that build brands while adhering to performance marketing metrics. This ensures that marketing is measurable and that these measurements are defined around business-critical Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) supporting actual investments in crypto.

So how can crypto businesses add users cost-effectively?

  • Invest in Programmatic Advertising: Though a Super Bowl ad can give a company (virtual) water cooler buzz and cultural relevance, can you name 10 brands who advertised in the Super Bowl last year? Actually, more than 50 brands were advertised in the 2021 Super Bowl, paying a reported $5.5 million for 30 seconds. That’s a massive marketing investment that is hard to quantify or justify its value. And for Super Bowl 2022, the reported price is $6.5 million for 30 seconds. There are Super Bowl ads that have broken through the clutter and were worth their marketing investment, like this ad for Apple, but those ads are few and far between. A more cost-effective marketing tactic that enables marketers to measure and monitor their investment is user acquisition through programmatic ad exchange auctions. A programmatic auction lets a marketer target prospective users according to demographics, geography, interests, or even a specific publication or website. By testing various targeted groups, a marketer will know how many users and what the cost per user acquisition is for each targeted audience. Programmatic exchanges deliver users at a fraction of the cost of a Super Bowl ad, enabling marketers to measure performance, ensuring that they’re achieving the desired KPIs.
  • Scalable niche: Given the regulatory challenges of marketing crypto products and services, which can be different in each country, the challenge when looking beyond the programmatic exchanges is to find the right publishers, sites, and apps that are leaders in their niche yet large and effective enough in regards to traffic to deliver scale. Because crypto went mainstream last year, we’ve succeeded in marketing crypto businesses on a range of niche platforms, apps, and websites that still delivered scale, most notably dating apps Tinder and Grinder. These apps regularly delivered engagement rates between 3-6% - much higher than banner ads – and video completions of around 10%. That’s why it’s important to look beyond the market leaders and test other platforms, apps, and websites as you optimize campaign performance.
  • Influencer marketing: The aforementioned research referenced in the opening paragraphs indicated that consumers not open to crypto cited a lack of understanding as their top reason. One way to address this challenge is by hiring influencers with a background and professional experience working in crypto. By creating explainer videos about cryptocurrencies, exchanges, and other relevant products and services, influencers can create content branded around your company’s offering that will educate prospective customers and inspire confidence in your offering which will help convert these prospects into users. That said, it’s important to remember that there are limitations on promoting crypto on certain platforms. Facebook and Instagram don’t accept crypto, and TikTok won’t accept ads for crypto. Twitter has been a very successful platform for our influencer-driven crypto campaigns.
  • Look at non-English speaking markets: Though most marketers tend to focus on the US and Canada, as well as the other major English-speaking markets, there are a lot of opportunities in foreign language markets. First, because many crypto marketers are focused on the English-speaking markets, there is often less competition in foreign markets. Second, some foreign markets, in an attempt to bring in foreign companies focused on crypto, have fewer regulations which make marketing easier. Third, user acquisition in most non-English speaking markets is much less expensive. We’ve had a lot of success acquiring users for crypto products and services in several non-English speaking markets including Europe, Latin America and Asia, including the GCC, Korea, and Singapore with the biggest growth regions being South and Central America and Africa. With non-English speaking markets, one must first have a website and app in every language you’re targeting, as well as relevant content.
  • It will take more than advertising… also invest in market education: As we wrote under influencer marketing, creating informational content will help educate prospective customers and build their trust in your offering. That’s why educational marketing tactics like newsletters, podcasts, tutorials and even building a community as eToro has through the company’s social trading platform are important with an emerging market like crypto. In addition to being educational, both the marketing and the initial product activation and usage must be simple. If new users get stuck and can’t get help right away, they’ll move on to a competitor.

Before investing in any market, people need to make educated decisions regarding their investments, and in that sense, crypto is no different. With cryptocurrency prices down since late 2021, an appropriate analogy is with the market in 2000. Though many of the initial Internet stocks from the early 2000s didn’t succeed, that market gave us Google and Amazon, two of the strongest and most successful stocks of the last decade. It also created a web and mobile-based infrastructure that is behind the success of Apple and Facebook. And a down market is usually a good time to start investing.

According to data from MediaRadar published in Forbes, crypto businesses spent $90 million in advertising in 2021 versus $16.9 million in 2020. In Q4 alone, crypto businesses spent $60 – 2/3rds of annual ad spend – which was a 651% increase versus 2020. Ad budgets in crypto businesses will increase significantly in 2022.

With ad budgets increasing, the cost of acquiring a user will only increase. Therefore, now is the time to ramp up user acquisition activities in crypto businesses.



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Omri Argaman

Omri Argaman

Chief Growth Officer


Member since

15 May 2022



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This post is from a series of posts in the group:

Marketing in Financial Services

Looking at the unique challenges and opportunities of marketing in Financial Services and Fintech

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