The U.K. Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has upheld complaints over a bitcoin ad placed by crypto derivatives exchange BitMEX (HDR Global Trading).
The advertising regulator published its decision on Wednesday, saying that it supported the four complaints against the ad that had claimed it “failed to illustrate the risk of the investment,” “exaggerated the return on the investment” and “challenged whether it was misleading.”
The ad, placed on Jan. 3, 2019, purportedly to celebrate the tenth anniversary of mining of the first block of bitcoin on the same date in 2009, showed a graph spread across two pages, according to the ASA.
The ASA further described the promotion, saying:
It included a footer on the front page of a national newspaper that read “Thanks Satoshi, we owe you one. Happy 10th Birthday, Bitcoin”, the graph and text next to it and a full page article written by the CEO and co-founder of HDR Global Trading Arthur Hayes titled “Two sides of the coin: the bifurcated near-future of money.”
In its ruling, the watchdog pointed out that the graph “used a logarithmic scale on its y-axis which meant that the equally spaced values on that scale did not increase by the same amount each time and instead increased by orders of magnitude.”
While it acknowledged that log graphs can be “a valid and useful way of presenting data,” the agency said that interpreting the graph would need some specialist knowledge of the topic and that, without an accompanying explanation, the graph “was unlikely to be familiar or readily understandable to the national newspaper audience to whom the ad was directed.”
The ASA concluded that people viewing the ad were “likely to be misled about bitcoin’s value and stability in recent years and therefore about what any investments they might previously have made would have yielded.”
The text included with the ad also came in for criticism,