What Does Airdropping Mean? Everything to Know

By  Beluga Research October 11, 2023

Image for What Does Airdropping Mean? Everything to Know


  • In cryptocurrency, "airdropping" refers to the distribution of free tokens or coins to a large number of wallet addresses as a marketing or promotional strategy
  • Participants can find ongoing or upcoming airdrops through various sources and complete tasks to be eligible for the airdropped tokens
  • Advantages of airdrops include exposure, community building, user acquisition, token distribution and marketing
  • Disadvantages of airdrops include reaching the wrong audience, token dumping, cost and resource implications, regulatory considerations and reputation risks


In cryptocurrency, "airdropping" refers to the distribution of free tokens or coins to a large number of wallet addresses as a marketing or promotional strategy. Airdrops can take various forms, but the most common method is distributing tokens to existing cryptocurrency wallets. This ensures that the tokens go to people who are already interested in the project or are part of the associated ecosystem. Airdrops can also target specific demographics or communities to increase adoption and awareness among particular user groups.

A Brief History

Airdropping originated from traditional marketing strategies before cryptocurrencies wherein companies would distribute free samples or promotional items to potential customers to generate interest. This idea was later adapted to the cryptocurrency space, where projects started giving away free tokens to gain attention and build a user base.

One of the earliest airdrops in the crypto world happened in 2010 when an individual named "Bitcoin Faucet" gave away 5 bitcoins (BTC) to every member of the BitcoinTalk forum. This act spread awareness about bitcoin and encouraged more people to get involved in the cryptocurrency ecosystem.

As the cryptocurrency industry evolved, airdrops became more prevalent and sophisticated. Ethereum played a significant role in popularizing airdrops when it distributed ether, the native cryptocurrency of the platform, to early contributors during the initial coin offering (ICO) in 2014. This set a precedent for other projects, leading to the widespread adoption of airdrops as a marketing and distribution tool.

What Does Airdropping Mean?: Everything to Know

Airdrops serve various purposes in the cryptocurrency space, including the following:

  • Promotion and Marketing - By distributing free tokens, projects can attract attention and differentiate themselves from competitors. Airdrops are used to create awareness and generate interest in a new cryptocurrency project.
  • Community Engagement - Airdrops engage existing users and foster a sense of community. Projects can reward loyal token holders and gather feedback from the community to make improvements.
  • Token Distribution and Adoption - Token circulation and adoption are increased during airdrops by distributing tokens to a wider audience. They introduce tokens to new users who might not have discovered or purchased them otherwise.
  • Forks and Hard Forks - There is often an association between airdrops and forks and/or hard forks. When a blockchain splits, a new cryptocurrency may be distributed to existing token holders through an airdrop.
  • Token Utility and Ecosystem Building - Airdrops incentivize users to participate in a project's ecosystem and use associated tokens. For example, a DeFi project may airdrop tokens to users who provide liquidity or stake tokens.

Getting Started

To participate in an airdrop, cryptocurrency users must first find ongoing or upcoming airdrops through sources like cryptocurrency forums, social media channels, dedicated airdrop websites or official announcements from blockchain projects. Once an airdrop opportunity is located, the user will usually need to complete tasks to be eligible for the airdropped tokens.

Tasks can include actions like following social media accounts, sharing posts, joining Telegram groups, retweeting content or referring friends to the project. These tasks help promote the project and increase visibility. After completing the tasks, the user will need to provide a wallet address to receive the airdropped tokens. It is important to only share the public wallet address and not private keys or sensitive information. Finally, the user must wait for the airdrop distribution period, during which the project team verifies the completion of tasks and distributes tokens to eligible participants.

Unique Aspects

Airdrops have several unique aspects that make them attractive to both projects and participants. Not only do they help projects generate interest and awareness by distributing free tokens, but they also serve as a user acquisition strategy, as participants are required to complete tasks that grow the project's online communities and foster engagement.

Participants benefit by diversifying cryptocurrency portfolios without investing personal funds, and they can also test project functionality and features before deciding whether to invest further.


  • Exposure - Significant exposure can be generated by airdrops for a cryptocurrency project. By distributing free tokens, the project can capture the attention of potential investors, users and enthusiasts, leading to increased brand recognition and a larger user base.
  • Community Building - Airdrops can help build a strong and engaged community around a cryptocurrency project. By distributing tokens to holders or users, the project can incentivize participation and create a sense of ownership, fostering a supportive community that actively promotes the project and contributes to associated growth.
  • User Acquisition - By offering free tokens, projects can attract individuals who may not have been aware of or interested in the project initially. Airdrops can be an effective strategy for acquiring new users, and these new users can potentially become long-term supporters and contribute to the project's success.
  • Token Distribution - Distributing tokens to a wide range of individuals becomes possible through airdrops, which is useful for projects with a large token supply that want to ensure a fair and widespread distribution. Airdrops can prevent token concentration in the hands of a few individuals or entities.
  • Marketing and Promotion - Airdrops serve as a marketing and promotional tool for cryptocurrency projects. By creating buzz and excitement around the distribution of free tokens, projects can generate interest and attract attention from the crypto community and beyond, leading to increased visibility and potential partnerships or collaborations.


  • Lack of Targeted Audience - The intended target audience may not always be reached through airdrops. Since airdrops are often open to anyone with a compatible wallet, there is a possibility that the tokens may end up in the hands of individuals who have no interest or knowledge of the project. This can result in a low conversion rate of airdrop recipients becoming active users or supporters.
  • Token Dumping - Airdrops can lead to "token dumping," wherein recipients quickly sell or dispose of the distributed tokens in the market. This can create downward pressure on the token's price and potentially harm the project's market dynamics. Token dumping is a concern, especially if many recipients are solely interested in the short-term monetary value of the tokens.
  • Cost and Resources - Resources are required for airdropping tokens and costs can be incurred for the project. The distribution process involves setting up the necessary infrastructure, managing logistics and potentially covering transaction fees. These costs can add up, especially for projects with a large user base or those planning multiple airdrops. It is important for the project to assess whether the benefits of the airdrop justify the associated costs.
  • Regulatory Considerations - Airdrops may raise regulatory concerns in some jurisdictions. Projects may need to comply with legal requirements such as "know your customer" (KYC) and "anti-money laundering" (AML) procedures, depending on the specific characteristics of the airdrop and applicable regulations. Failure to comply can result in legal repercussions for the project.
  • Reputation Risks - If not executed properly, airdrops can expose projects to reputation risks. If the airdrop is perceived as spammy or low-quality, it may negatively impact the project's reputation and credibility. Additionally, if the project fails to deliver on promises or adequately communicate the terms and conditions of the airdrop, it can lead to disappointment and distrust among the community.