Crypto’s Massive Marketing Efforts Have Attracted Few New Investors


Over the past year, crypto companies like FTX, Coinbase, and have shelled out tens of millions of dollars to attract new customers. “Fortune smiles on the brave,” Matt Damon said in a TV spot as he tried to get Americans to open up their digital wallets.

Now, a study of their success has been released, and experts say it’s telling: not successful at all. The number of people who have invested in crypto has not increased since last September before the surge began, according to the study conducted by the Pew Research Center.

The results, published on Tuesday, are based on an initial survey in September. At the time, Pew researchers asked 10,371 Americans if they had “ever invested, traded, or used cryptocurrency.” Some 16% of Americans said they had.

Last month, the nonprofit asked another sample group — slightly smaller, at 6,034 Americans — the same question. And again, 16% said they had invested or traded in the alternative currency.

The findings suggest that, despite numerous splashy campaigns by crypto interests, the vast majority of Americans remain immune to their sales pitches.

“It’s quite striking that despite all the spectacular commotion around crypto over the past year, the number of people investing or trading in crypto hasn’t budged,” said Lee Rainie, Director of Internet and Technology Research at the Pew Research Center, which led the study. “Attempts to bring new buyers into the market haven’t seemed to move the needle at all.”

Late 2021 and early 2022 saw a flurry of recruiting efforts as crypto firms tried to lure retail investors into the fold. The long-term health of the market largely relies on new players willing to sign up for exchanges and buy digital coins.

Several weeks after Damon’s ad launched in October, announced a naming rights deal for the Staples Center in Los Angeles. In February, the push was fully effective. Three trading platforms –, FTX and Coinbase – each bought Super Bowl airtime that would have cost $6.5 million per 30 seconds.

The ads were aimed at a wide range of Americans – FTX, for example, encouraged the game’s nearly 100 million viewers not to “be like Larry”, in reference to the spot’s techno-skeptic star Larry David, and to invest rather in cryptography. .

The survey results validate criticism from crypto skeptics that currencies lack intrinsic value and are unduly dependent on new investors arriving to enrich old ones.

“That the cryptocurrency space, despite a ton of publicity, is running out of new suckers isn’t all that surprising to me,” said Nicholas Weaver, a computer security expert at the University of California, Berkeley. which has often raised both a financial and ethical case for new crypto investing. “Although there is a sucker born every minute, it is still a limited pool of suckers.”

The Pew study notes that “this lack of global change comes despite heavy attention to crypto in the news.”

However, not all analysts agreed with Pew’s conclusions. “I question the research,” said Edward Moya, senior market analyst at crypto trading and research firm Oanda. “What I’ve seen over the past year is a very diverse group of people – lawyers, nurses, doctors, professors – showing extreme interest in crypto, especially in early 2022 when many of them bought for the first time. ”

Crypto enthusiasts say studies may underrepresent crypto investors because not everyone wants to tell someone they’ve invested and because studies don’t search the pockets of those who are most likely to invest. Rainie said Pew has taken rigorous steps to achieve proportional representation across various racial, gender and economic groups.

Industry leaders warn that new pools of investors could be even harder to find in the coming months. In an earnings call this month, publicly traded cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase, which ended 2021 with 11.4 million monthly active users, said it expected to complete the year with between 7 and 9 million active users per month.

Moya said that even if retail investors fall following the recent crash, crypto markets could be fueled by institutional investors, who are more likely to redeem after a crash.

The Pew study also looked at demographics and found that they haven’t changed much over the past year either. As in September, adults over 50 were only about a quarter more likely to invest in crypto than adults under 30, while men were 2.5 times more likely than women to put money into crypto.

The study also found that not all marketing campaigns did much to increase general crypto awareness. Last September, the percentage of those who said they had heard “nothing at all” about cryptocurrency was 14%. This summer, after all the media attention, the ranks of the crypto-ignorant had shrunk just one percentage point, to 13%.

About Deborah Wilson

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