5 Considerations for Cannabis Advertising
Cannabis advertising can be tricky. As of today, cannabis is still prohibited on a federal level, which can make creating an effective advertising strategy difficult. From medical, to recreational, to CBD, each state carries their own set of ad regulations. Cannabis marketers should be aware of each in order to successfully navigate the different challenges they present.
The cannabis industry is booming. Roy Bingham, co-founder and chairman of BDSA (a cannabis market research firm) says that the cannabis industry is expected to top $24 billion dollars in 2021. It’s more important than ever for cannabis brands to find their place in the advertising market.
Many brands tend to lean on organic marketing methods like social media and SEO to attract their audience, and while organic is an important part of any marketing mix, paid messaging is just as critical.
Here are our top five considerations for effective cannabis advertising that any cannabis brand can use to help build their paid advertising strategy:
1. Stay Up-To-Date on Local Cannabis Marketing Regulations
Spend time researching what laws exist in the markets where you want to advertise. While every state will carry their own set of regulations, there are a few things that are true across all of them. General guidelines to consider include:
- Ads must not suggest that CBD or cannabis can treat or cure any health or medical condition.
- Ads must not contain elements that would appeal to children.
- There should be no testimonials or endorsements of the products featured within the ads.
- Do not show the consumption of the product.
- There must be a “For Adult Use” label on any infused products.
- Don’t make any false or misleading statements in the ads.
- No pricing, promotions, or potency statements can be included.
2. Understand Which Marketing Channels Work Best for Cannabis
The Federal Communications Commission does not allow any cannabis advertisements to be aired on radio or TV commercials, which significantly reduces overall scale and audience reach.
One way around this is through connected TV. Since CTV is not regulated by the same set of laws as broadcast TV, this channel can help extend audience reach for cannabis advertisers. With either mainstream programmatic exchanges or cannabis-specific programmatic exchanges, CTV ensures that ads are targeted to compliant audiences.
3. Focus Your Creative on CBD, Not Traditional Cannabis
CBD, or cannabidiol, is the non-psychoactive ingredient in cannabis. Because of this, CBD has less restrictions federally and many cannabis brands have capitalized on this workaround. Creating ads that are focused only on your CBD products can help get traffic to your site without the restrictions that come with traditional cannabis advertising.
4. Consider Programmatic Advertising
Programmatic advertising can help bridge the gap between cannabis-focused publications and more mainstream publications. Many cannabis brands can be found in publications centered around cannabis, such as High Times or Cannabis Culture, but those publications only represent one subset of cannabis consumers. Programmatic targeting easily ensures that your advertisements are compliant with local regulations, while effectively locating cannabis consumers all across the web.
5. Sell Your Brand, Not Your Product
In the current climate for cannabis dispensary marketing, there are thousands of brands competing for the same consumers. While location typically weeds out a lot of the competition, it is important for cannabis brands to focus on what sets their brand apart and makes them unique.
Test out content that focuses on your company’s culture or values, with no mention of cannabis or cannabis products. This method can help get around local regulations (native advertising like sponsored content may be an effective avenue for this strategy).
While there is no one-size-fits-all approach for cannabis advertising, these five considerations can help cannabis brands maximize their paid digital media strategies.