It seems that during the year of the Great Collapse of Bitcoin, we have witnessed everything from scams, frauds, and pyramids, all the way to elegant scams in Italian fashion. But the participants of the crypto market continue to amaze with their ingenuity. Recently, DeCenter was approached by a blockchain startup representative accusing the employees of Google Marketing of fraud.
Google Is for ICOs or against Them?
At first glance, the complaint of the ICO project about unethical actions by Google seems insufficiently justified. In early March, the representatives of Google announced that they plan to limit the placement of advertising on the topics of ICOs and cryptocurrencies. Many startups did not like the innovation, but it is useless to resent it, as Google will make its own rules no matter how many projects complain.
After a more detailed study of the case, it became clear that someone in Google is still playing double as the employees continue to attract budgets for advertising the "forbidden" ICOs and cryptocurrencies. Alexander Kolesnikov, co-founder and marketing manager of INTRO spoke about his experience of communicating with the representatives of Google Marketing.
"A girl called our office, introducing herself as a Google consultant, and offered support for ICO promotion using Google Adwords. I immediately had doubts, because there was news already that Google planned to limit the advertising of ICOs. She answered my questions by saying that she will send an official commercial proposal. I really did receive a letter from the Google domain and agreed to participate in an online conference."
According to Kolesnikov, the consultant focused on the urgency of launching the campaign during the negotiations because of the ban on ICO advertising and proposed to transfer part of the budget to a personal bank card for speeding up the process. "It's a pity I didn't record the whole conversation as I switched on the recorder after this offer had been made. I have good experience in setting up Google Adwords campaigns, so we said goodbye to the lady at that point. I think she just decided to earn some extra money on the hype around the ICO ban. At the same time, according to her 'optimization program,' the price per lead would be about 65 euros, which is not a very tempting offer," Kolesnikov said.
We turned to the Google Marketing Solutions (GMS) division headquartered in Dublin for comments on the Google package proposal for ICO advertising. Account Manager Ekaterina Tsuprikova, who works there, got acquainted with a copy of Kolesnikov's correspondence with her Russian counterparts, but declined to comment on the offers of promotion of blockchain startups.
Scandals, Intrigues, Investigations
We had to wait more than a month for a response to the request we had directed to the press service of Google. The long-awaited official response disappointed us altogether, as the company reported that "an internal investigation will be conducted based on your application.” During this time, the editorial office of DeCenter has already managed to conduct its own investigation.
The starting point was the contact of Anastasiia Stetaia, who had negotiations with Alexander Kolesnikov. With the help of Google, we were able to confirm that an employee with that name really worked in the Russian branch of the company and, in particular, spoke at the Google conference in Samara. In addition, Anastasiia’s position in Google was confirmed by her colleague Lukasz Owczarek, who leads the Business Development direction in the region of Central and Eastern Europe.
According to Owczarek, Anastasiia Stetaia was a Business Development consultant for Russian clients of Google, but later moved to work in another department. At the same time, Owczarek denies that the offer of the ICO promotion package could have come from Google employees after the company announced the restriction of advertising of crypto projects. To our objection that the editorial office had copies of the correspondence with the dates and a record of the conversation with Anastasiia, Lukasz Owczarek replied: "It could be a mistake." He refused to give any more comments. Anastasiia Stetaia herself did not respond to the editorial office's requests.
The Long-Awaited Ban
Google threatened to stop advertising ICOs since the beginning of spring, but the ban has not yet entered into force. The last thing that we managed to learn from the company's employees is the postponement of deadline for the ban on ICOs to July 11, 2018. Earlier, the company's reports stated that the ban will enter into effect on June 1, 2018. The editorial office of DeCenter will follow the developments and will announce when Google finally enforces the ban.