By Brett Konen on August 26th, 2020
The PrograMetrix Guide to Mobile Ads for Cannabis & CBD
While the term “mobile ads” can technically mean any ad appearing on a mobile device, it is usually referring to display ads in their mobile format. Together, display and mobile ads are the bread and butter of programmatic advertising, offering more inventory, reach, and scale at a lower price than any other ad type.
Mobile ads and their desktop counterparts are where nearly every cannabis or CBD business should start their digital advertising campaigns. These top-of-funnel traffic drivers are focused primarily on reaching new audiences, familiarizing them with your brand, and getting potential customers to your website. By starting here, cannabis and CBD business owners can set themselves up for success in moving those same audiences through the purchasing funnel over time.
Mobile ads are one of the easier digital advertising channels to leverage for cannabis or CBD: Below we outline how mobile ads are created, what they’re best for, and why they’re an ideal foundation for your digital ad campaigns.
What Are Mobile Cannabis Ads?
Mobile display ads can appear on both smartphones or tablets—if it’s not on a laptop or desktop computer, it counts as mobile. This channel includes in-app mobile ads (e.g. appearing when you check your weather app) as well as banners on mobile-optimized websites.
Mobile cannabis and CBD ads require the same things as display ads to create:
- A high-res image
- Your logo
- A short headline (we recommend 20–35 characters, including spaces)
- Concise body copy (we recommend 50–75 characters, including spaces)
- A call to action button (CTA—about 10–15 characters, give or take)
- A link to your landing page (use the page that’ll take the viewer closest to a conversion, rather than simply sending them to your homepage)
Most brands use the same display ad designs for both mobile and desktop, and save them out in standardized sizes for both device types (see standard display ad dimensions here). Our recommended mobile ad dimensions are:
- 336x280: Large Rectangle
- 320x50: Mobile Leaderboard
- 300x50: Mobile Leaderboard
- 320x100: Large Mobile Banner
- 1024x768: Tablet Interstitial Landscape
- 768x1024: Tablet Interstitial Portrait
Why Run Cannabis Mobile Ads?
For the last few years, mobile has represented a majority of all website traffic worldwide: According to Statista, “In the second quarter of 2020, mobile devices (excluding tablets) generated 51.53 percent of global website traffic.” In the US, that number rises to 63% when tablets are included (and in some countries, mobile use outweighs desktop by as much as four to one).
That said, the vast majority of consumers use both mobile and desktop, often in different ways, so it’s important to leverage both types of display advertising in order to learn which one appeals most to your audience. You may find that your mobile ads have a higher click-through rate, but desktop ads lead to more conversions; or that mobile ads work best in the morning and desktop ads best in the afternoon; or that iPhone users are twice as likely to purchase your products as Android users.
We’ve seen a wide variety of campaign data covering all of the possibilities above and more, which indicates that there is no one-size-fits-all answer to the question of whether mobile is better than desktop (or vice versa) for advertising cannabis and CBD. One CBD client saw their best conversion rate, lowest cost-per-acquisition (CPA), and best click-through rate (CTR) from Android ads, making it an easy choice to bid up on ad impressions through Android. For another client, conversions consistently came from iOS week after week. The only way to get an accurate answer for your own brand is to test both channels against each other and optimize your campaigns accordingly over time.
Speaking generally, mobile display ads are best at improving brand awareness and driving new audiences to your website, generally for a few dollars per thousand impressions. This is why they’re used as the foundation of most programmatic advertising campaigns for both cannabis and CBD, even though engagement and conversion rates for mobile ads are almost always lower than more immersive formats like video.
We generally suggest that both CBD and cannabis advertisers start with a combination of mobile, display, and native advertising, with CBD brands pursuing search and social ad approval through Google and Facebook as well. A few things to know about mobile ad campaigns:
- The average American spends 5.4 hours per day on their phone—which is why mobile is automatically included in any programmatic display ad campaign. These ads reach consumers on the go when they might otherwise be unreachable through desktop (for instance, in the evenings, over the weekend, or while on vacation).
- It’s important to understand who your target customers are and how they use their mobile devices. If you’re advertising to Gen Z or Millennials, mobile is likely to be among your more powerful tools; if you’re advertising to retirees, you may find that mobile is somewhat less effective.
- Mobile device use varies throughout the day, which is something your programmatic campaign manager will take into account when dayparting and making optimizations. Mobile use on smartphones tends to be higher earlier in the day; desktop use increases during working hours; and mobile rises again in the evenings, when tablets are more popular for consuming content.
Creating Compliant Mobile Ads for Cannabis
It’s legal for cannabis and CBD brands to run compliant digital ads on mobile devices. Most CBD brands can use industry-standard programmatic ad tech; cannabis brands can leverage cannabis-specific programmatic ad tech. Compliance with local advertising rules and restrictions is ensured in both cases by using the platforms’ targeting capabilities to reach viewers 21 and over where the products advertised are legal.
While cannabis advertising regulations generally vary from state to state, they can be boiled down to a few broad guidelines applicable to mobile ads as well as other formats:
- No suggestion of health or medical benefits
- No elements that could appeal to children (cartoon characters, etc.)
- No false or misleading statements, including those made about competitors’ products
- No testimonials or endorsements
- No product consumption
- No pricing, potency statements, or promotional offers
- Ads for infused products must state “For Adult Use Only”
Certain states require state-specific disclaimer copy in their ad creative, including Alaska, Arkansas, California, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, Ohio, Oregon, and Washington. In Florida, a state review process for ad creative also applies.
To be safe, we always recommend double-checking your own state’s latest guidelines to ensure compliance with the most up-to-date information. For a list of state-by-state links, you can also review our ad compliance guidelines for cannabis and CBD.
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