What is an Airdrop?

A cryptocurrency airdrop is a marketing strategy, executed mainly by blockchain-based start-ups, that involves distributing small amounts of a new virtual currency to the digital wallets of active members of the blockchain community.


It’s much more exciting and rewarding than its military namesake – not about delivering supplies by parachute but about distributing digital wealth to create buzz, interest, and a broader ownership base.

An airdrop can be free to receive or in return for small promotional activities, such as social media posts.

Types of Airdrops

There are a variety of ways in which an airdrop event can take place, with developers selecting an approach that bridges project needs with user growth in the most advantageous way.

The most common types include:

  • Standard Airdrop: Express interest and provide a valid wallet address.
  • Bounty Airdrop: Perform certain promotional tasks to earn points.
  • Holder Airdrop: Automatic distribution based on current holdings.
  • Exclusive Airdrop: Based on specific selection criteria.
  • Raffle Airdrop: Random selection among those interested.

History of Airdrops

Since the inception of the first airdrop in 2014 with the Icelandic Auroracoin project, they have continuously evolved, shaping new trends and technologies.

Airdrops have become an integral part of not only the launch of new cryptocurrencies but also major blockchain updates and forks, this was evident in the case of bitcoin cash’s fork, where holders of bitcoin (BTC) received an equivalent amount of bitcoin cash (BCH).

As the industry matured, this novel distribution method has been increasingly used to incentivize participation in decentralized finance (DeFi) projects and governance DAOs.

Community-led initiatives have begun to use this approach to distribute voting rights and governance tokens, ensuring a more decentralized and equitable distribution of control.

In addition to serving marketing purposes, they have become a powerful tool for fostering community engagement and loyalty.

Innovative distribution models, such as tiered distribution and staking rewards, have emerged, allowing projects to tailor airdrop campaigns to their unique goals and community needs.

The Blur NFT marketplace strategically implemented a multi-tier airdrop mechanism in 2023 to capture market share from its competitor, OpenSea.

This strategy mandated users who listed their NFTs on other platforms to also list them on Blur, either at a lower price or an equivalent one, and to utilize certain protocol features such as NFT collection bids.

In their most recent airdrop tier, Blur has escalated this approach, requiring users to delist their NFTs from other marketplaces entirely in order to qualify for the maximum $BLUR airdrop – highlighting innovation in approaches.

The history of airdrops illustrates the adaptability and innovation that characterizes the cryptocurrency space.

They have moved from being a simple promotional tool to an intricate part of blockchain ecosystems, reflecting the growing complexity and dynamism of the industry.

Key Moments in Airdrop History

March 2014 Iceland’s Auroracoin, an early and ambitious experiment for a P2P currency that could replace the Euro in the aftermath of Iceland’s tough 2008 financial crisis.
September 2020 Uniswap’s airdrop, reaching over 250k addresses.
November 2021 Ethereum Name Service (ENS) converted to a DAO with a massive airdrop.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Airdrops

The emergence of airdrops has led to a significant debate within the crypto community about the benefits of these coin launches and the often lackluster performance of associated tokens.


  • Rewards Early Adopters: Loyal supporters benefit.
  • Marketing and Awareness: Increases visibility and adoption.
  • Distributed Ownership: Creates a broader holder base.


  • Security Threats: Potential scams or phishing attempts.
  • Possible Pump-and-Dump Schemes: Market manipulation.
  • Potential Worthlessness: Tokens may not have liquidity or value.

The Bottom Line

Airdrops, as a concept and a practice, have become integral to the crypto economy and can present an innovative way for projects to build community, increase adoption, and reward loyalty.

However, like many aspects of the crypto world, they come with potential pitfalls.

Those engaging with airdrops should do so with caution, understanding the nature of the token, the integrity of the project, and the true value proposition.

It’s not about free money but the responsibility and potential associated with becoming a part of a new digital frontier.

As the Blur NFT marketplace’s multi-tier mechanism or ENS’s decentralized governance philosophy indicates, airdrops are evolving and can serve various strategic purposes beyond mere crypto giveaways.

In the end, this approach is just one of the many fascinating aspects of the decentralized digital world, reflecting the innovative and dynamic spirit of blockchain and crypto.


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Sam Cooling

Sam is a technology journalist with a focus on cryptocurrency and AI market news, based in London – his work has been published in Yahoo News, Yahoo Finance, Coin Rivet,, Business2Community, and Techopedia. With a Master’s Degree in Development Management from the London School of Economics, Sam has previously worked as a Data Technology Consultant for The Fairtrade Foundation and as a Junior Research Fellow for the Defence Academy of the UK. He has traded cryptocurrency actively since 2020, actively contributing to and Sam’s passion for the crypto space is fuelled by the potential of decentralisation technology…