Crypto Airdrops in 2024: kickstarting the bull market

Crypto Airdrops in 2024: kickstarting the bull market

A look at the most expected airdrops of the year and what you need to know to profit from them without getting scammed.

There are many ways of participating in the crypto space and reaping the benefits it may present. From simply investing, directly or via intermediaries, to taking chances in day trading, contributing to the DAOs, or trying to master the play-to-earn games.

There is also another way, allowing anyone to engage with the crypto space even with a $0 investment – airdrops, or free distribution of tokens to early users.

For web3 protocols, airdrops are a way of educating users, growing their community, and encouraging them to take part in governance, as well as kickstarting token markets. A growing number of airdrops are also carried out on testnets even before a protocol launches in alpha, allowing the developing team to find and fix any bugs.

The airdrops became a big thing after 2020 when the now-leading decentralized exchange Uniswap gave away some $6.43 billion worth of its token $UNI (valued at its all-time high price) to the DEX users. Since then, DeFi projects have been leading the trend, although other sectors have rapidly caught up.

In 2022, the NFT project Bored Apes Yacht Club dropped $3.5 billion worth of $APE to the holders of its NFTs, and in 2023, blockchain layer-2 Arbitrum dropped almost $2 billion of $ARB. Overall, last year’s top 50 airdrops distributed some $4.56 billion worth of tokens, according to Coingecko’s research.

2024 is promising to be even richer in airdrops, with Ethereum layer-2 Starknet giving away 728 million $STRK tomorrow, February 20th. It is expected to be one of the most high-profile airdrops of the year, and speculations are heating up about others to come.

Here’s an overview of the most expected airdrops of the year, the ways one could get qualified for them, and a look into airdrops’ impact on the markets.

Types of airdrops and how to qualify for them

Depending on the protocol’s nature and goals, qualified users may include those who have interacted with the DApp, executed trades, owned the project’s NFT, staked the project’s token, contributed to its code in open source… Starknet’s airdrop even includes Ethereum stakers and some non-web3 open-source developers.

Mainnet airdrop details often remain undisclosed until after a snapshot of user activity is taken, with announcements made post-factum. This turns airdrop-hunting into an exciting endeavor, best approached by joining a project’s Discord channel.

Conversely, testnet airdrops are typically announced in advance to gather technical feedback which will help the developing team to improve the protocol before launching it on the mainnet. Such projects offer smaller rewards, but they also do not require users to pay blockchain’s gas fees, and carry a smaller risk of scams, which arise each time the “real” tokens are used.

Airdrops to farm in 2024

While Starknet’s snapshot has already been taken, other noteworthy airdrops might still be open for newcomers. Thus, there is growing speculation about zkSync, a new zk-proof blockchain that already registers a whopping 1.5 million weekly active addresses (source: dune). Other big projects that still do not have their token include Linea (Ethereum Layer-2 based on zk-proof technology), EigenLayer (restaking protocol on Ethereum) Metamask (famous wallet), interoperability protocol LayerZero, as well as Solana-based NFT marketplace Magic Eden and lending DApp Marginfi.

Among the already announced airdrops we can name the gaming platform Pixels, crypto game Mavia, zk-proof networks Manta, and Solana liquid staking DApp Marinade Finance. These projects are likely to have already taken the user snapshot, but many, like Manta or Pixels, have continuous “airdrop farming” programs that can still be joined. This also holds for The Root Network – an interoperable blockchain launched by the NFT project Fluff in cooperation with Ripple – that regularly launches “quests” allowing users to gain the $ROOT token.

Among the beginner-friendly testnet airdrops we can name Metis (EVM-compatible Layer 2 scaling solution), Berachain (L1 blockchain built on Cosmos SDK), Shardeum (EVM-based Layer 1 blockchain designed for linear scalability ), Particle Trade (leverage trading protocol), and Data Ownership Protocol (ZK-proof-based privacy solution).

Impact on the crypto markets

Airdrops naturally stimulate buzz and user activity, driving token prices up in the short term. However, they do not guarantee success: if the promise behind the DApp is not fulfilled, user interest wanes, and prices fall accordingly.

This was particularly visible in the NFT marketplaces war. In 2022, LooksRare stormed into the market, then dominated largely by OpenSea, by giving away $712 million worth of $LOOKS tokens to all OpenSea users (valued at the token’s all-time high price). This aggressive user acquisition, together with the promise of continuous remuneration, helped LooksRare to rapidly gain userbase, which nonetheless has vanished shortly since, the marketplace failing to maintain the momentum.

In contrast, Blur, the emerging NFT marketplace and aggregator, created a better service and used the airdrop to seal its success.  The now-leading Blur dropped some $818 million of $BLUR to its users throughout 2023.

Other than impacting the prices related to the DApp itself, high-profile airdrops can also increase activity on the blockchains they were built on. Solana’s liquid staking DApp Jito is one such example, giving $SOL a 20% boost on the airdrop’s first day.

Airdrops have become a key strategy for web3 projects looking to boost user engagement, and 2024 presents the perfect timing for such initiatives. However, they have also become a favored tactic among scammers who exploit the excitement around giveaways to create fraudulent websites with malicious contracts designed to drain wallets. As a result, it’s crucial to meticulously verify any airdrop details through the project’s official website and Discord channels.