Crypto’s massive marketing efforts have drawn few new investors


Over the past year, crypto companies such as FTX, Coinbase and have poured tens of millions of dollars into attracting new customers. “Fortune favors the brave,” Matt Damon famously said in a TV spot while trying to get Americans to open their digital wallets.

Now a study of how successful they had been has been returned, and experts say it’s an eye-opening one: not successful at all. The number of people investing in crypto hasn’t expanded since last September before the push began, according to the study led 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 in, traded or used a cryptocurrency. About 16 percent of Americans said they had.

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

The results suggest that, despite many crazy campaigns by crypto interests, the vast majority of Americans remain immune to their sales pitches.

“It’s quite striking that despite all the spectacular hype surrounding crypto over the past year, the number of people investing or trading crypto has not budged,” said Lee Rainie, Pew Research Center’s director of internet and technology research, who led the study. “Attempts to bring new buyers into the market didn’t seem to move the needle at all.”

In late 2021 and early 2022, there was a flurry of recruitment efforts as crypto firms sought to draw retail investors into the fold. The market’s long-term health is largely dependent on new entrants willing to register with exchanges and buy digital coins.

Several weeks after Damon’s commercial debuted in October, announced a naming rights deal for the Los Angeles Staples Center. In February, the push was in full effect. Three trading platforms –, FTX and Coinbase – each bought Super Bowl airtime reportedly costing $6.5 million per 30 seconds.

The ads targeted a wide range of Americans — FTX, for example, urged the game’s roughly 100 million viewers not to “be like Larry,” referring to the site’s techno-skeptic star Larry David, and to instead invest in crypto. .

The survey’s results validate crypto-skeptics’ criticism that currencies lack intrinsic value and are dependent on bringing in new investors to enrich the old ones.

“That the cryptocurrency space, despite a ton of hype, has run out of new straws is not that surprising to me,” said Nicholas Weaver, a computer security expert at the University of California at Berkeley who has often raised both a financial and ethical case for crypto-investment. “Even if a sucker is born every minute, there is still a limited supply of suckers.”

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

Not all analysts embraced Pew’s findings. “I question the research,” said Edward Moya, senior market analyst at crypto trading and research firm Oanda. “What I have seen in the last 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 in for the first time. “

Crypto enthusiasts say that studies may underrepresent crypto investors, because not everyone wants to tell a questioner they’ve invested and because studies don’t pick pockets of those most likely to invest. Rainie said Pew took rigorous steps to achieve proportional representation across different racial, gender and economic groups.

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

Moya said that even if retail investors fall away in the wake of the recent crash, crypto markets may be driven by institutional investors, who are more likely to buy in after a crash.

The Pew study also examined demographic data and found that it had also not changed much over the past year. As of September, adults over 50 were only about a quarter as likely to invest in crypto as adults under 30, while men were 2.5 times more likely than women to put money into crypto.

The study also found that all of the marketing campaigns did little to increase overall crypto awareness. Last September, the percentage of those who said they had heard “nothing at all” about cryptocurrency was 14 percent. By summer, after all the media attention, the ranks of crypto-ignorants had shrunk by just one percentage point, to 13 percent.

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