Coinbase Crashes After Popular Super Bowl Ad

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  • Coinbase's Super Bowl ad generated 20 million hits and temporarily crashed its site.
  • New Coinbase customers were able to get $15 in Bitcoin if they signed up before Feb. 15.

Free Bitcoin, Super Bowl, and a bouncing QR code overwhelmed the popular crypto exchange.

Coinbase's 60-second Super Bowl commercial featuring a bouncing QR code and not much else certainly got people talking. Some saw the minimalist ad as a huge success, while others were less than complementary. Coinbase also attempted to put a positive spin on its subsequent site outage, using it to emphasize the record number of hits.

The QR code took fans to a sign-up page with the slogan, "Less talk, more Bitcoin." The page contained the following offers:

  • New Coinbase customers who signed up before 12:30 p.m. PST on Feb. 15 can get $15 in Bitcoin (BTC).
  • Existing Coinbase customers can opt in to a crypto sweepstake with $3 million in prizes before Feb. 27.

Coinbase is one of the biggest cryptocurrency exchanges in the U.S., and its easy-to-use platform has proved popular with new investors. If you're using the platform for the first time, be aware of the fees -- Coinbase can charge up to 4.5% on certain transactions. Fees are considerably cheaper on Coinbase Pro, its advanced trading platform.

Response to ad took Coinbase by surprise

Almost immediately after the commercial aired, there were complaints of technical issues. Downdetector, a site that tracks outages, reported a spike in problems around 7:30 p.m., and continued to track smaller numbers of issues until about midnight.

Coinbase's Chief Product Officer, Surojit Chatterjee, tweeted: "Coinbase just saw more traffic than we've ever encountered, but our teams pulled together and only had to throttle traffic for a few minutes." Coinbase tweeted at 8:30 p.m. that the site was back up and ready.

Technical issues aside, Coinbase's ad generated a lot of social media attention -- both good and bad. Billionaire investor Mark Cuban tweeted, "QRcode ad with no copy was brilliant." On the other side of the spectrum, crypto commentator Joe Pompliano said, "Coinbase just spent $14 million for a color-changing QR code to bounce around on the screen for 30-seconds during the Super Bowl… And the website crashed."

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It's hard to argue with the results. Describing the event as "historic and unprecedented," Coinbase said it got over 20 million hits on its landing page in one minute. Research from The Block Crypto showed the Coinbase app jumped to second place in the App Store -- up from 186th position before the ad.

Opening your first crypto account

If you're a new crypto investor who opened your first account after this weekend's Super Bowl, welcome! Crypto investing can be exciting, and some believe cryptocurrencies could transform both the internet and the way we handle money. But others warn it is a huge bubble. Either way, it can be a high-risk and volatile investment.

Here are some useful tips for every new crypto investor:

  • Don't invest money you can't afford to lose. Crypto prices can fall dramatically in a short amount of time. The best way to guard against the volatility is to only spend money you can cope without. That way, you won't face financial difficulties if the market crashes.
  • Research any cryptocurrency in detail before you buy. There are over 17,000 cryptocurrencies out there, and many are scams or poorly thought-out projects. Take your time to research the crypto project, its management, and competition in detail.
  • Think long term. Some people view crypto as a way to get rich quick, but the best way to build wealth is to keep a long-term perspective. Instead of speculative cryptos that might generate big returns, focus on more established cryptos that have a better chance of long-term success.
  • Make sure crypto is part of a balanced investment portfolio. Balance out high-risk assets like cryptocurrency with lower-risk investments like stocks and real estate. Rather than putting all your eggs in one basket, look at crypto as part of a diversified investment portfolio.
  • Pay attention to fees. Crypto platforms charge a range of fees, and there's not a lot of consistency about how much you'll pay for different features. For example, some cryptocurrency exchanges charge a lot to deposit money but have minimal trading fees. Others boast no trading fees, but don't give great exchange rates. Fees can eat into your profits, so it's good to know what you're paying.

Some dubbed this year's Super Bowl as "Crypto Bowl" because of the huge presence of crypto-related platforms and products during the event. It's another step toward the mainstream for what is still a relatively new technology, but the industry still has a long way to go. As an investor, the key is to tread carefully and try to avoid getting caught up in the hype.

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