can i advertise cbdDecember 15, 2021
From syndicated content to high-end ad placements, using platforms like FieldTest can prove a great way of gaining brand awareness and traffic via premium inventory outside of the Google Display Network.
But how can you advertise CBD brands despite the current restrictions on most major ad platforms?
Just because Google has barred CBD ads doesn’t mean that display advertising isn’t possible.
Despite this, almost all major online advertising channels including Facebook, Instagram, Google, Amazon, and Snapchat don’t allow brands to promote CBD products. Thus, CBD companies need to find other ways to generate awareness and build their brands online.
Here at Hallam, we’ve been approached to develop market penetration strategies for a number of CBD clients. These often encompass creative SEO strategies to target long-tail searches, alongside content and PR campaigns designed to gain brand recognition in what’s becoming a rapidly saturated market.
1. Display Advertising.
Facebook has recently relaxed their policies somewhat, but brands are still unable to advertise products or posts referencing CBD on their site.
Almost all major online advertising channels restrict brands from promoting CBD products. But brands can advertise CBD products online. Here’s how.
One platform clearly capitalizing on the current restrictions placed on CBD ads is FieldTest.
The North American cannabis industry is expected to reach $16 billion by the end of 2019.
As one of the fastest-growing trends in consumer goods, it’s difficult to ignore the growing presence of cannabidiol (CBD).
Like any other industry, CBD brands should still have an eye on paid media as an acquisition strategy.
Doubling down on education and thought leadership content can also be effective as an entry point since consumers are actively searching for information on what’s still a relatively new topic to the general public.
Outside of the Google Display Network, there is a range of platforms available to advertisers looking to access display inventory on websites that will allow CBD-related ads to run on their sites.
While they are certainly worth investing time in, relying purely on organic and earned media strategies will take time to generate traction for a new brand.
The platform has struck deals with premium publishers across the web and made them available to CBD advertisers through their platform.
2. Influencer Marketing.
CBD is one of the most profitable product categories in the industry and is projected to bring in total revenue of $1.6 billion in the U.S. within the next couple of years.
Influencer marketing allows CBD brands to bypass advertising restrictions in place on popular platforms such as Facebook and Instagram by tapping directly into the organic following of relevant influencers on each platform.
Since then, of course, things haven’t been all plain sailing for CBD. In fact, despite a 1978 Controlled Substances Therapeutic Research Act in New Mexico which uncovered medical benefits, laws largely stood between CBD and the public until California took the step to legalize cannabis back in 1996.
In the past, Spotify has been criticized for not blocking alcohol ads, a fact that might leave you hoping they’re the right outlet for your CBD focuses. Indeed, there are no direct rules here that disallow the marketing of CBD in either audio or overlay ads. That said, a push at the start of this year to prevent political ads is a sure sign that Spotify is in the process of refining their ad focuses.
Along roughly the same lines, untested assumptions are an absolute no-go. The worst thing you can do here is to make a claim ‘because you heard it somewhere’. In fact, if assumptions seem developed off the back of not much, you could damage rather than boost your brand reputation.
History of CBD.
Email may seem like an outdated marketing method these days, but many brands report that email marketing the king of conversions. As such, email advertising CBD is also well worth your while. The most significant benefit from CBD email campaigns is the fact that you can tailor offers and promotions directly to interested consumers, all without any limitations in terms of third parties. While you still need to stick within the law, this provides you with a great deal of freedom in how you choose to target your products here.
Bear in mind that these same rules apply for things including reviews of your products. You can’t simply pull five-star ratings out of thin air. Instead, you should always link to reputable review sites alongside any claims you make about your previous customers. Otherwise, how can you expect your brand to achieve the trust necessary for conversions?
You might think you’re ready to go the moment you understand the above CBD advertising laws, but you would be wrong. In reality, the sheer controversy still surrounding many CBD products also means that you need to consider each unique platform before you tailor an ad that simply won’t fly with their marketing teams. After all, sites still take some level of risk when they accept your marketing drive. While you should eliminate this where possible by keeping the above in mind, you might also want to consider rules as they stand per platform, such as –
Content creation is a fantastic sub-sect of the SEO world and is also guaranteed to prove invaluable. Everything from press releases through to blog posts exploring (verified) CBD benefits, and more is sure to help your brand receive more coverage. Even better, there’s little all those social platforms can do to prevent you from sharing this content and receiving much of the attention you would have with paid efforts in the first place.
Instead, always be sure that even your ‘possible claims’ are coming from reputable sources. Include reference links across the board, and double-check that they’re from reliable outlets ahead of time. For instance, your mate’s social media page might not quite cut it, while official studies from the National Institute of Health hold a fair bit more weight.
Trade shows are always useful, and CBD-specific options like World CBD-Expo can prove especially valuable for your brand. Not only can you entirely dismiss any worries about acceptance here, but you can also rub shoulders with your competitors in a way that online platforms would simply never allow you to do.
Twitter permits approved CBD topical advertisers to target US based users. That said, Twitter can still prove an effective platform. As long as you don’t make any medical claims or challenge FDA restrictions, you should be able to use your account to link to your website and generally build brand awareness, all with the benefits of hashtags for discovery. It is subject to the following restrictions:
Given that medical benefits are the best things CBD has going for it, you may be surprised to hear that these are strictly off-cards for your ad efforts. Remember that the FDA currently doesn’t support any medical CBD benefits, meaning that your hands are largely tied. In fact, if the FDA deems that you’re using deception surrounding proven treatments to sell, they’ll quickly strike your marketing efforts from the record.
Remember, FDA restrictions are still pretty tight surrounding what you can and can’t do with CBD. To avoid controversy or legal action on the back of your marketing efforts, you must, therefore, ensure that you forever keep these restrictions in mind.
Pinterest doesn’t expressly forbid the advertising of CBD on their platform, though limitations surrounding health products still make it unlikely that your brand ads will land well on this platform. Most notably, they forbid advertising of health products that could be ‘ unsafe, unreliable, or easily abused.’
Use of the word ‘CBD’
June 2019 saw Facebook lifting its CBD ban, meaning that CBD advertising on Facebook is a possibility, though it can still be something of a minefield. Cannabis-derived CBD ads are still off the cards altogether, while even some hemp-derived products face setbacks when directly using the term ‘CBD.’
For example, attempting to sell CBD as a dietary supplement or cooking ingredient remains illegal in most locations while claiming that your products are medically approved would, again, set you against the grain. In other words, if the FDA says you shouldn’t do it, you shouldn’t do it, period.
As a result of this such CBD products were removed from the Controlled Substances Act back in 2018, meaning that hemp can now be grown and manufactured into CBD for public sale. This means that such products are now offered for a full-spectrum of uses, and can be openly sold in headshops, pharmacies, and health stores across the country.
Unfortunately, due to policies that disallow advertising for any products of ‘questionable legality , CBD advertising on what was formerly Bing Ads is also a current no-go. In fact, alongside Google, Microsoft advertising will altogether eliminate any ads that refer to CBD products.
As mentioned above, federal legalization doesn’t automatically mean that the distribution and advertising of CBD is legal across states. As such, it’s vital for marketers also to consider state laws at the beginning of any campaign. This applies both to your state of selling, and any states that you intend to market towards. As it stands of writing, the laws and positions to bear in mind are –