Alongside all of the ICO frenzy of 2017, another major trend started to gain traction: cryptojacking.
In short, cryptojacking is where a website utilizes the processing power of your computer to mine cryptocurrency. This was widely cited as a potentially legitimate alternative to display advertising as a revenue source for publishers. The Pirate Bay ran a cryptojacking test back in September of 2017 to see if it could be a sustainable revenue generator for the company, stating in a blog post:
The company leading the way in the facilitation of cryptojacking is CoinHive. They created the most popular cryptojacking software that can be installed onto any website in order to start mining Monero using your visitors’ computing power. A recent study from Ahrefs found that 0.0136% of websites online (from their sample of over 175 million domains) were running cryptocurrency mining scripts, with over 93% of them using CoinHive.
Now, the question for a lot of publishers was, “is this more profitable than selling advertising space?” It seems that for most publishers, the answer is no. At least based on some revenue predictions from The Pirate Bay that was the case. Is it a better experience for website visitors? I’ll let you make up your mind about that.
One thing is very clear: Google doesn’t approve.
In a blog post published on Google’s Chromium Blog yesterday, they stated that they will be banning cryptojacking extensions from the Chrome store. While this still enables cryptojacking software to operate on websites, it puts a stop to Chrome Extensions that mine cryptocurrency while a user has their Chrome browser open.
This decision comes on less than a month after Google announced plans to ban advertisements on their network related to cryptocurrency. This followed suit from a similar announcement by Facebook in January – Twitter has since made a similar move.
One of the primary factors behind Google’s decision to ban cryptojacking Chrome extensions was that they had a large influx of new submissions to the Chrome store that violated their policies, stating:
“Unfortunately, approximately 90% of all extensions with mining scripts that developers have attempted to upload to Chrome Web Store have failed to comply with these policies, and have been either rejected or removed from the store.”
With more and more major companies in the media space tightening regulations, it’s likely just a matter of time before companies like CoinHive have their cryptojacking software negatively impacted.