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CBD Digital Advertising Guide

This digital CBD advertising guide will help you with your CBD marketing strategy if you are a CBD business online. We take you through advertising restrictions from prominent digital advertising and social media platforms.

The CBD market in Europe is growing because more people accept products that have CBD.

CBD is experiencing exceptional interest across the world. According to the Brightfield Company, worldwide CBD sales are predicted to rise by 400% during the next four years in Europe alone.

According to Roy Bingham, the cannabis industry is expected to be worth $24 billion dollars by 2021, the co-founder and chairman of BDSA.

Cannabis advertising is changing and those changes are here to stay. You see, CBD is found in many different industries, including pharmaceuticals, personal care, cosmetics, and nutraceuticals. It comes in the form of edibles, CBD oils and sprays.

There is a boom in CBD brands and naturally, this is going to attract marketing talent. The US, as is often the case is ahead of the curve when it comes to CBD advertising, but that does not need to be the case.

Many brands use organic marketing techniques (i.e. no paid advertising), such as social media and SEO, these are both great in attracting your audience, and while organic is an important component of any marketing mix, paid media messaging plays an equal role, and we have seen excellent ROIs with online paid media advertising.

This article mostly focuses on paid advertising since this is what Advant Technology specialises in.

We think the best route for paid marketing of CBD products is through programmatic, it’s ahead of the curve, and the CBD industry needs to get on board as it enables CBD and Cannabis ads in a more open way with fewer advertising restrictions.

What is programmatic advertising?

Programmatic is a form of online digital advertising. It can include display ads that appear on mainstream websites or even audio advertising for brand awareness campaigns.

Today you can even buy connected TV ads via programmatic.

Let’s look at the more technical explanation of what programmatic advertising is.

Programmatic is the automation of digital ad buying. With programmatic, an algorithm sifts through vast amounts of data to determine which ads are shown where.

The goal is to deliver ads that are more relevant and effective than those placed on sites using traditional methods of buying online ad space.

This article applies to both programmatic advertising in Europe and the US.

The Basics

What is CBD?

CBD is one of the most common compounds found in cannabis and hemp leaves. It accounts for up to 40% of the plant’s extract and by itself, it apparently does not cause a “high” like THC but has its own benefits, as we will see shortly.

The list of conditions that can be treated with CBD is growing rapidly. So far, CBD has shown potential in the treatment of anxiety disorders, insomnia, arthritis, pain relief and many others.

This non-psychoactive compound may also decrease the symptoms of certain conditions such as Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis. The list is not conclusive at this point, but more research is being done.

Why Has CBD Become Popular?

CBD has become popular because people are looking for natural remedies. CBD is one of the most versatile compounds found in cannabis. The list of conditions it treats, as mentioned above, is growing rapidly. That’s why CBD products are becoming more popular.

However, the main reason behind the growth of CBD popularity is the fact that it’s legal in many countries. Marijuana or cannabis with high levels of THC are still illegal in many parts of the world.

CBD is widely available on the market because it can be made from hemp, which contains only trace amounts of THC. This has allowed CBD to become one of the biggest selling products in the US.

What is Cannabis?

Cannabis (Cannabis sativa), popularly known as marijuana, is a plant that produces three different products: the leaves and flowers that can be smoked; the stems and seeds that can be used to make hemp fibre; and the oil from seeds which is used in cooking. Of all these products, it is usually smoked dried leaves and flowers that are called marijuana.

Cannabis is indigenous to Central Asia but grows in most parts of the world today. A hemp plant can reach a height of six metres, with palm-like leaves up to five or six feet long.

Cannabis is slowly being decriminalised in many parts of the world.

Does Programmatic advertising have restrictions on CBD & cannabis advertising?

Programmatic platforms are important for cannabis and CBD businesses because they help people who want to advertise their products. But there are other ways to advertise that can open up inventory on mainstream news and entertainment sites.

Digital ads that you see online are mostly bought programmatically. Some 85% of display ads will be bought via ad tech platforms. If you are advertising cannabis or CBD, make sure to use a programmatic system for your ad buying!

Programmatic systems are important for CBD & cannabis advertisers because they help people who want to advertise their products.

These types of ads allow businesses to engage with the right audience through the simplest, most efficient digital marketing channels. But there are other ways to advertise that can open up inventory on mainstream news and entertainment sites.

What are CBD ads?

CBD ads are advertisements related to the promotion of CBD products.

OK, so what problem does programmatic solve?

Ads being bought via programmatic platforms are typically more effective at reaching the target market. Programmatic buying also offers advertisers the ability to micro-target audiences based on their personal data, making it easier to reach a certain demographic without spending a fortune on ads.
So we know that programmatic can offer an alternative to social media platforms, but let’s take a deep dive into the policies of major advertising platforms and social media. Despite the fact that this area of business seems to be legal and profitable, most social networks have either restricted or continue to disallow CBD advertising. We did a lot of research on online advertising avenues. Here’s what we found.

Pinterest Policy CBD

Pinterest says:

We will allow ads for topical hemp seed oil products that contain negligible amounts of THC and no CBD and make no therapeutic or medicinal claims.

Taboola CBD Policy

The advertising of cannabinoids (CBD’s) is restricted.
Campaigns advertising the sale of CBD products need to comply with the following policies:

Facebook Policy CBD

Facebook has an increasingly older audience. Normally for eCommerce and performance campaigns, Facebook is an incredible platform for generating a positive ROI. The success of Facebook as a marketing tool is due to two things: its ability to attract a huge audience and its micro-targeting capabilities. In short, their policy can be summarised in this sentence.

We don’t allow people to promote CBD or ingestible hemp on Facebook. The update to non-ingestible hemp was made months ago.

Google CBD Policy

Google has several advertising solutions/channels including:

Here is Google’s policy:

Outbrain CBD Policy

Snapchat CBD Policy

Snapchat is a way to reach young people if you want to sell CBD products. It has the largest market for CBD products that are for people under the age of 30.

Snapchat does specifically refer to CBD or cannabis-related products; however, what we can establish is that Snapchat is not a good place for marketing edible CBD products, including gummies and supplements.

They also don’t allow smoking and vaping. You should not mention any health benefits in the ad creative or the landing page.

In these ads, you can have fun. But make sure that the ad meets the requirements. You should show lifestyle images to connect with people and make them memorable. You can mention CBD or hemp in your ad as long as you specify that it does not have THC in it, so you will be approved by the platform.

OK, so know that we know most of the key social media and native advertising platforms don’t allow CBD ads, let’s get back to programmatic.

How to run CBD compliant ads

First off, you must ensure you comply with the local laws in your country; typically, that means using data overlaid on the campaign, so you only reach 18+ audiences, + make sure you comply with other messaging rules and regulations.
You should look at both national and state laws. Dispensaries, for example, may want to geo-target their ads.
All states have rules about how you can market and advertise cannabis. You should know that there are some broad guidelines that apply to all of these states, which you should follow when making your ad.

  • Ensure nothing appeals to children e.g. the use of cartoons
  • Do not make claims to health benefits
  • Do not make false statements or misleading claims
  • You are not allowed to show product consumption
  • Do not use any testimonials or endorsements from celebrities or individuals or companies/organisations
  • Do not make reference to your competitors
  •  There must be a for adult use only label
  • Do not use pricing promotions

What are the US state laws regarding Cannabis advertising?

In some states, you must include a disclaimer about your cannabis ad. For more information, see this CBD article.

What ad formats can I run through a programmatic DSP for my CBD marketing?

Here is a shortlist of the advertising formats you run through a demand-side platform:

  • Banner CBD Ads – Static and video.
  • Ads usually appear at the top or bottom of a web page, sometimes both.
  • Interstitial CBD Ads – Video only
  • Rich Media Ads- Interactive experiences like games, offers, 3-D experiences etc.
  • Mobile CBD Ad Units – These are housed in mobile apps so the inventory is plenty.
  • Native CBD Ads – Content ads that look like organic content (blogs, news site etc.)
  • Video CBD Ads – Normally up to 30 seconds like but up to 15secs on mobile works best
  • Audio CBD Ads – Great for getting your brand heard in music apps and podcasts.
  • Connected CBD TV Advertising – Up and coming, big screen, very effective at telling your brand story.

CBD Web Landing pages

Like any e-commerce company, you want to ensure your landing pages are well optimised to increase conversion rate. There are many CBD businesses that have done a great job at streamlining the user journey. Do your competitive research, learn from what they are doing but don’t copy.

What targeting tactics can I use when targeting my CBD ads?

Here we explore some targeting techniques related to programmatic advertising:

1. Re-Targeting, retarget users who visited you
2. Geo-Fencing, very important so you do not advertise in a state or county that disallows CBD ads
3. Contextual Targeting
4. Lookalike Targeting
5. In-Market Targeting, only relevant if your item appeals to those demographics or psychographics
6. Behavioral Targeting, as the name implies, this technique focuses on targeting people who behave as you would expect for your market
7. Affinity targeting, related to your fan base. You create a page or group and market towards those specifically interested in your creation
8. Demographic Targeting, for instance, do not attempt to sell a grilled cheese sandwich at a hip-hop concert
9. Interest Targeting, similar to affinity targeting
10. Keyword Targeting, very important for Google Adwords
11. Topic Targeting, use this technique to target psychological groups or similar interests. For instance, you are selling a CBD product targeted toward people with insomnia you can target insomnia related topics from across the web.

Targeting is very important to your online advertising campaign. With all of these targeting options available, it’s easy to start getting very specific about your demographic and tailor your ads directly towards them. The trick is picking the right ones, so you are not wasting time and money instead in selling your CBD product.

Conclusion

CBD advertising is a new frontier for many companies. So much so that even Google Adwords does not allow CBD ads yet.

While the industry matures, there are plenty of options available to CBD businesses looking to advertise their brand.

Programmatic DSPs are an exciting way to target your CBD marketing campaigns across multiple channels at scale. Here are some helpful tips on how you can participate in this evolving market:

  • Only use reputable ad networks or partners
  • Have your ads approved by the network first
  • Commit to building great landing pages with clear calls to action
  • There are too many people out there pushing bad practices, do what you can to avoid them.

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