Are Bitcoin Faucets legal, and other issues facing Bitcoin Marketers today

So as a professional marketer who has worked in digital advertising for many years, I thought I’d write a blog post to give my views on bitcoin faucets as I’ve spent the last three days trying to get a comprehensive list of them for our readers.

In my time in the video games industry, and subsequentally in advertising agencies here in Dublin, one of the key things that would be written on every single insertion order (the contract between me, the client, and an agency/network, the supplier) our company would make would specifically prohibit what is called incentivised traffic. This is defined as any traffic where an incentive has been given for a user to engage. For some companies, ie online stores to generate a sale, this is not an issue at all, but in my case, promoting browser and downloadable MMORPGs, this was prone to abuse.

There were many way to play the system. If we were paying on CPM (the cost of 1000 banner impressions), rewarding people for paying to visit pages. As an advertiser, often the same ad would be shown several times through different banners, and this wasn’t what we were looking for. When paying on CPC (cost per click), other issues included pop unders loading a page which would never get seen, or paying out per click and having the site owner take a margin, and pass on the rest. When paying on CPA (cost per acquisition) there were a different set of issues, as the end user was being told to click here, do this, that and the other. Many social games on Facebook these days incorporate offers, which in some cases, ie buying something you were going to buy anyway, trying out new software etc, and again this is fine. But as an adveriser of games having my marketing budget being spend to give an advertising network, a competitor, and their user money from my budgets was a no-no. It’s a grey area, and many inexperienced marketing managers dealing with advertising networks at the first time didn’t understand what the risks were, and poured good money into bad advertising. Cashback sites offering a percentage rebates were also an issue.

With bitcoin faucets, a parallel ecosystem has emerged, with most of the websites looking like they were made with Geocities and straight out of 1997. Most of these sites are simple php or javascript automated systems, that work on the basis that the site has a bitcoin wallet, with x amount of funds in it (ie, donations from members, donations from the site owners, or advertisers). The viewer goes to a page plastered in advertising and affiliate links promoting a wide range of legitimate and questionable services from the nascent bitcoin ecosystem. Many of these links are delivered by new bitcoin advertising networks that have emerged which is fine, while others utilise Google Adsense in clear breach of their program terms, .

The process is similar for them all. On each site, you’ll either register an account with them or just enter your bitcoin wallet address, fill in a captcha, or do a challenge to prove you’re human. Most of these sites then will issue a small amount of bitcoin, worth a fraction of a cent, which are incrementally added up. They then incorporate a  delay of time, after which you can repeat the process. Many sites use the same shared wallet, so an enterprising bitcoin fan can open up many bitcoin faucets in different tabs, and cycle through them across the day adding up their bitcoin. Once it hits the minimum transaction threshold of 0.00005430 bitcoin (worth ~€0.02 at current prices), they are then queued to be paid out in a batch, which is then run on a cycle ranging from every few hours to once a week.

Now I am all in favour of there being a mechanism for new entrants into the bitcoin ecosystem as a way to get on the ladder, but it is certainly a grey area from a marketer, looking to invest hard earned budget (whether fiat or bitcoin, especially the latter) to generate traffic, with a hope of them leading to conversions into sales. But having such a wide range of sites who are showing ads to people, who to be honest if they can’t spend €0.02 to get bitcoin for a lot less hassle aren’t exactly in a target market.

I completely understand the issue many bitcoin entrepreneurs today have, whether they are offering bitcoin cloud mining services, asic miners, their normal products and services, or the likes of gambling products. The easy money has already been made by a lot of people, and now people are going to have to work to get their head above the parapet. This involves investing money into marketing, to drive traffic with the ultimate goal of generating sales. This involves having a conversion funnel, where that traffic goes to a page that is orientated around doing a specific thing, whether it’s signing up to a product or service, or buying an item of stock. But what I’m seeing with the faucets and the bitcoin ad networks, who count dozens of these sites among their networks is that noone seems to care, or more likely the bitcoin companies that are out there aren’t aware of what’s happening. They pay  to one of these networks, and get traffic. But is it the right kind of traffic? Surely, trying to sell a €2,000 piece of hardware to someone who is fighting for fractions of a cent is a bit of a mismatch.

So when considering whether to invest in this, ask yourself is it the right audience? Are you being promoted beside products or services that aren’t in line with your company values? Are you sending them to a dedicated landing page, or dumping them on the homepage? Or should you consider focusing on brand building with this traffic, using the traffic to send to a page that signs people up to your mailing list or social media channels?

With this in mind, we have launched a new service called to work with companies in bitcoin focused businesses before they spend their budget, and give them the ability to use their bitcoin holdings to generate traffic from traditional advertising channels such as advertising networks, affiliate networks, Google adwords and social media channels including Facebook and Twitter. By enforcing proper URL tagging and conversion tracking using our Chrysalis platform, we can set up goal driven marketing campaigns to drive traffic from the right audiences. If you want to chat, feel free to get in touch with jamie [at] bitcoin marketing team [dot] com .