Social & Influencers

TikTok is beta testing a program to allow crypto ads

But some marketers say crypto promos on the platform already exist.
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Francis Scialabba

· 5 min read

Restrictions around crypto advertising on TikTok could ease up for some brands soon, thanks to a program that’s currently in beta testing, a company insider recently confirmed to Marketing Brew.

The beta—which is currently running tests in the US and Canada—is a program that, if rolled out widely, could allow crypto advertisers to bypass some of the red tape they currently face on the platform, as long as the companies are registered with an approved regulatory body, the TikTok source explained.

In the US, that regulatory body is the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), and in Canada, it’s the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC). If rolled out, the program would let crypto companies registered with the appropriate approved regulatory body run paid advertisements. Their ads must include a disclaimer about investments and can only target those 18 and older. Marketing Brew was not able to confirm a timeline for the beginning and end of this beta test.

Ashley Nash-Hahn, who works in SMB and ad policy comms at TikTok, told us that crypto companies can currently post organic content about crypto on TikTok (as long as it complies with TikTok’s Community Guidelines). But crypto brands cannot currently run paid advertisements on TikTok, she said.

Why it matters

Although Nash-Hahn told us crypto companies have never been allowed to run paid advertisements on the platform, some marketers that Marketing Brew spoke with say that’s not necessarily true.

“It’s not the case that there’s no advertising,” Brendan Gahan, partner and chief social officer for Mekanism—who has experience with crypto clients interested in advertising on TikTok—told Marketing Brew, pointing to recent TikTok ads he saw from cryptocurrency exchange Gemini. Marketing Brew reached out to see if Gemini is part of the beta test but did not receive a response.

Take Aubrey Strobel, advisor at bitcoin rewards company Lolli, for instance. She told us that Lolli was able to run “one or two” paid ads on TikTok “almost a year ago.”

“They were allowing it at one point,” Strobel said of TikTok. She said that it went from being “totally fine” to “all of a sudden, it was not.”

“Then we were kind of all just screwed,” Strobel explained, clarifying Lolli could post organic content, but not paid ads, on TikTok.

Strobel told us that getting the ads to run in the first place was “very difficult,” saying that Lolli had to be “very careful” about the “verbiage” it could use (for instance, using words like “cash back” instead of “bitcoin” or “crypto”).

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When we asked Nash-Hahn how Lolli might have been able to run those ads, she said, “TikTok has always allowed the promotion of financial services and products with some restrictions,” pointing us to the platform’s ads policy for financial services.

But the page states that, in the US, “​ads promoting virtual currencies/cryptocurrencies (e.g. Bitcoin and Ethereum), as well as cryptocurrency trading platforms and advisory services are prohibited.”

TikTok’s beta test does not apply to influencer ads and partnerships, which the platform refers to as “branded content.” Nash-Hahn told us that “cryptocurrencies, as well as cryptocurrency trading platforms and advisory services, are prohibited in branded content.”

Even so, Gahan said that within five minutes of poking around on TikTok, he was also able to find “a handful of sponsored posts of creators promoting specific tokens and coins and currencies.” Strobel said Lolli’s been able to work with influencers on TikTok as well.

A source familiar with the matter told Marketing Brew that some crypto brands can advertise on TikTok, if an ad meets approval for an “allowlist.”  Per TikTok’s branded content policy, “in North America, some products may be allowed to run as Branded Content if approved on an allowlist.” TikTok did not respond to our request for comment regarding allowlists.


If TikTok’s beta program moved forward, giving some crypto companies the ability to run paid ads on the platform in an official capacity that complies with TikTok’s rules (as Strobel said, even when Lolli was able to run ads, it was “very difficult”), Gahan said it could “be a massive opportunity” for both crypto advertisers and the platform itself.

“In some of the research that I’ve seen, TikTok is one of the primary sources of information and inspiration for people going out and making specific decisions around what cryptocurrencies to invest in,” Gahan told us, adding that he thinks paid crypto ads would “crush” it in terms of performance on TikTok. “I really think it’s going to be a big opportunity for these currencies,” he said.

Not only that—he also told us that if the beta becomes official, it could be a huge revenue opportunity for TikTok. “If they go through this beta, which I think is really smart, they’re gonna end up with really above-the-board partners. This is a massive, massive industry with so much money pouring into it, and so much excitement,” Gahan said.

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