Crypto companies see massive user surge from big game ads

Coinbase and FTX both spent big on lengthy big game ads and saw immediate results from them.
Written by Michael Gariffo, Staff Writer

Even if you'd never heard of cryptocurrency in your life before sitting down to watch Sunday's Super Bowl matchup between the LA Rams and Cincinnati Bengals, you certainly have now. 

Two of the biggest names in the crypto arena, Coinbase and FTX, both spent big on ad spots during the game. As of Monday morning, it's looking like those ads had their desired effects. 

One of the most talked-about ads of the night was Coinbase's, although you may not have realized what the ad was even for until the very end of it. That's because the majority of it was just a single, color-changing QR code bouncing around the screen set to catchy electronic music. 

The ad combined the bouncing DVD logo meme with that infuriatingly cryptic commercial format that requires you to go to some secondary source to find out what it was all about. Of course, once you've done that to satisfy your curiosity, you've already given the advertising company the engagement they were looking for. 

In this case, it appears many, many people went that extra mile and engaged with Coinbase by scanning the QR code. So many that the company's website and app experienced brief outages from their sudden popularity. If you used the QR code before the outage, or since Coinbase's services were restored, you'd receive an offer to earn $15 in free bitcoin if you sign up for an account before February 15. Meanwhile, Coinbase also promised to give away $3 million in bitcoin to current customers as well. 

The other big spender of the night, FTX, opted for a less mysterious approach. Instead, the company's minute-long spot leaned on comedian Larry David, showing him playing various characters throughout history that had voiced extremely incorrect opinions about new inventions. Of course, David's final character expressed similarly dubious opinions about the FTX app, saying "I don't think so. And I'm never wrong about this stuff." 

While it doesn't appear FTX's apps or services were knocked offline, The Block's tracker did detect a massive spike in App Store downloads, driving the FTX app from its previous rank at 186th place to second place by Monday morning. 

The long-term viability and stability of cryptocurrency may still be in doubt, but it looks like at least two purveyors of the technology made gains in taking the new form of currency mainstream during one of the biggest sporting events of the year. Whether or not that initial surge in popularity translates into long-term users or increased revenue for either remains to be seen.

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