How Are Crypto Companies Adjusting Marketing Amid the Downturn?

Exchanges Bitbuy and OKX working on closing new partnerships in coming months despite cost-cutting around the industry

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key takeaways

  • Bitbuy is targeting older investment-savvy people who have yet to jump into crypto
  • Investment in sports partners is meant to be market agnostic, OKX marketing executive says

As some crypto companies implement cost-saving measures amid a tempestuous market environment, a few bigger spenders are doubling down on advertising investments.

But the market downturn has caused the marketing department at crypto exchange Bitbuy to temporarily shift its marketing spend from brand-building initiatives to more performance-based advertising, according to Binu Koshy, the company’s communications director.

Such efforts include Google ads targeting older investment-savvy people who have yet to jump into crypto, as Bitbuy data shows that the latest downturn has attracted such investors. The median age of new crypto investors on Bitbuy has jumped from 34 in 2018 to 39 this year, including a three-year increase over the past 12 months.

“Knowing that older investors have more capital to invest and also prefer a personal touch, we shifted our marketing spend and messaging to promote Bitbuy Private Wealth, which caters to higher-net-worth individuals who prefer to deal with a personal account manager to make their crypto trades — a key competitive advantage that Bitbuy offers,” Koshy told Blockworks.

The Canada-based platform’s marketing shift comes after it ran a Super Bowl ad in February featuring Miami Heat point guard Kyle Lowry. About 25% of the company’s marketing budget for 2022 went to signing Lowry, as well as producing and buying the spot, Koshy said at the time.

Bitbuy has also adjusted its messaging in recent months as the 56% drop in bitcoin’s value during the second quarter resulted in what the firm has called a “crypto buyer’s market,” Koshy said. Prior to April 1, trading volumes on the Bitbuy platform were split evenly between buyers and sellers. Since then, about 65% are buyers.

In addition to targeting long-term investors not scared off by market fluctuations, Bitbuy is also focused on women.

More female Bitbuy users are buyers than men, especially within altcoins, as 70% of women transacting in that space are buyers, compared to 56% of men. Additionally, Bitbuy data from the past 4 years shows that the average crypto trade by women is 17% higher than men.  

Meanwhile, investing platform eToro, another company that advertised during this year’s Super Bowl, plans to intensify its marketing strategy that focuses on online channels. It also intends to continue running television ads on channels such as CNBC.

The firm’s offerings are particularly appealing to millennial investors, which is reflected in eToro’s designs, a spokesperson said.

“We actively monitor all campaigns and can adjust spend based on effectiveness as well as market conditions,” eToro’s marketing head Brad Michelson told Blockworks in an email. “We will continue to invest in marketing and our brand in the US as this is a key market for eToro.”

Firms look to continuing partnerships 

Another big marketing spender has been crypto exchange OKX, which partnered with McLaren Racing in a multi-year deal worth “hundreds of millions,” a spokesperson told Blockworks in May.

Haider Rafique, global chief marketing officer at OKX, told Blockworks that the company’s investment in sports partners is meant to be market agnostic, noting that its marketing spend will not change.

“Our principles and beliefs remain the same; we are focused on education and creating a generation of traders and investors who think like athletes, and think responsibly about their investing career,” Rafique said. “In fact, we see this time as a more favorable, less noisy environment in which to make progress towards that intention.”

The CMO added that OKX has no plans to back out of any partnerships, noting instead that the company would “scale up responsibly and announce new things in the coming months.”

Similarly, Koshy said Bitbuy is finalizing some partnerships set to launch in the fourth quarter and 2023. 

Crypto exchange FTX, however, reportedly pulled out of talks last month to provide a jersey patch to the MLB’s Los Angeles Angels amid the latest crypto market volatility, according to the New York Post

But the company’s discussions and decision to pass on the Angels deal happened months prior contrary to recent reports and were not due to the recent market downturn, a spokesperson told Blockworks. 

FTX has invested heavily in brand awareness, paying $135 million for the naming rights to Miami Heat’s arena in 2021 and partnering with high-profile athletes over the past year. The company is also sponsoring chess events, including the Meltwater Champions Chess Tour’s FTX Crypto Cup in August. 

The FTX representative added that the company’s partnership strategy has always been about finding partners who shared its long-term belief in the digital asset space. 

“That was a cycle-neutral strategy,” the spokesperson said. “We’re excited to continue to collaborate with those partners to help people learn about and explore crypto and make their own decisions about getting involved.”

Coinbase and Crypto.com, which also ran Super Bowl ads, declined to comment for this story. 

The latter company spent much of 2021 boosting brand awareness through large partnerships, capping off the year by buying the naming rights to the Staples Center in Los Angeles last month as part of a 20-year, $700 million deal. Crypto.com more recently became a sponsor for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, which is set to take place in Qatar in November and December.

Coinbase executives said during an earnings call in May that it expected sales and marketing expenses to represent about 15% to 20% of its net revenue. CEO Brian Armstrong noted that the company would “dial up marketing” as its products mature, noting that Coinbase would focus on its existing user base. 

Crypto.com, Coinbase and other digital asset companies have revealed plans to cut their workforces in recent weeks as a cost-saving measure.

Contrarily, OKX revealed last month that it plans to increase headcount by 30%, growing by 1,500 people to about 5,000 over the next 12 months.

“We have a lot of work to do towards becoming the world’s most loved crypto trading app,” Rafique said. “This requires us to have the best talent, shape the user experience and offer the ultimate utilities on our platform for all types of investors and traders.”


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