When will it be the day we will see CBD advertisements?
Google Ads are Google’s auction-based advertising system that allows you to display ads for common search keywords in Google. You can tell Google Ads results by the little green ad label next to a listing. They show before organic results and sometimes on the right side depending on which device you are searching on.
The cannabis industry is one of the fastest growing markets in the U.S and the world but, with this diverse and exciting landscape, its clear startups are facing one battle that might take years to beat: advertising with the big guys. Currently, 47 states allow some form of CBD sales. The 2018 Farm Bill allows states to decide if CBD products made from hemp can be sold in their jurisdiction. However, it doesn’t protect the products from the Food and Drug Administration, which can penalize companies for making inaccurate health claims
Primary advertising platforms, like Google Ads and Facebook, currently have minimal advertising opportunities for cannabis companies. This is because they are following federal law.
Let’s look at the cannabis market. As you probably know, marijuana and hemp are both members of the cannabis family , but there is one crucial difference, one gets you high, and the other does not. Hemp derived products are entirely legal and enjoy the rights of any other legal product.
But here’s the catch: products derived from marijuana are not legal in every state. For example, each state has its own CBD specific laws. Also, lets not forget, under federal regulation, cannabis is treated as a controlled substance. Since cannabis and cannabis products are seen as a controlled substance federally, it makes it a little sticky in advertising.
Consequences of the CBD taboo.
Super Bowl Sunday Wasn’t Ready for a Weed Ad
One of the changes in the last Super Bowl was the decline of many advertisements like the one from Acreage Holdings, a U.S. cannabis company publicly traded in Canada, which wanted to air an ad during the Super Bowl. Yet when they submitted an outline to CBS, the network turned them down. “Based on that storyboard, we were rejected,” Harris Damashek, chief marketing officer for Acreage, tells Rolling Stone. “I don’t begrudge CBS or the NFL, but we were advocating for a sensible cannabis policy. Form that standpoint, we view this as a [public service announcement."
Social Media Advertisement Status
Facebook’s advertising policies differentiate between restricted content and prohibited content. Unfortunately for cannabis companies, promoting drugs and drug-related products, including prescription and recreational drugs, is strictly prohibited. This includes both the text and images you include in your ads. Due to federal restrictions cannabis companies are prohibited from running ads even in states where cannabis is legal.
Instagram was acquired by Facebook in 2012, and the same advertising policies govern the use of that platform. Simply put, there’s no advertising permitted for cannabis companies on Instagram.
Twitter likewise prohibits ads for illegal goods in its ads policies. Specifically, the Drugs and Drug Paraphernalia section lists “illegal drugs, recreational and herbal drugs, accessories associated with drug use, drug dispensaries, and depictions of hard drug use” as examples of prohibited ad content.
LinkedIn’s ad policies state that “even if legal in the applicable jurisdiction, LinkedIn does not allow ads related to prescription pharmaceuticals, drugs or any related products or services. Ads that promote illegal drugs, highs, herbal medicines and treatments, psychoactive effects of substances, or aids to pass drug tests are all prohibited.”
SnapChat’s ad guidelines prohibit ads that “encourage or glamorize drug use,” as well as ads for illegal or recreational drugs or drug paraphernalia.
A Good alternative to advertising on the Web
To reach and engage their audiences on social media without advertising, cannabis brands have found many different ways to do it underground. Although social media advertising is off limits to many cannabis companies at the moment, there are plenty of earned/organic strategies these companies can employ to get ahead of the competition despite regulatory roadblocks. Despite legalization in a variety of markets, the restrictions persist.
A little creativity goes a long way on social media, and there’s no shortage of that in the cannabis industry.
Here are some strategies we use for our cannabis clients on social media:
Influencer Marketing: Partnering with industry influencers is a good way to reach new audiences inclined to like your brand.
Brand ambassadors: Think of how much you could increase your reach on social media if happy customers were also posting about your brand.
Blog Posts: Writing blogs on cannabis is always a good option, giving it the appropriate diffusion as putting them on platforms such as Reddit, Medium and Smoke.io, will help to send traffic to your website and therefore, more people will know your product.
Getting Google to approve your cannabis or marijuana ads can be tricky. Their algorithm is very good at finding ads related to recreational drugs and taking them down. You have to be somewhat careful what you choose as the algorithm has certain words that it automatically finds and disapproves your ad.