By on December 2nd, 2020

3 Ways CBD & Cannabis Advertisers Can Increase CTRCBD & Cannabis Display Ad CTR Benchmark Data (PrograMetrix)

Click-through rate (CTR) is one of the best indicators for whether your ads are getting through to your target audience. While other key metrics like cost per acquisition (CPA), total conversions, and return on ad spend (ROAS) depend heavily on the effectiveness of your landing page, product offering, and media mix, a strong click-through rate is primarily the result of effective ad creative. In order to help established CBD and cannabis advertisers improve their ads and their corresponding click-through rates, we took a close look at internal CTR performance data for our programmatic CBD and cannabis ad campaigns over the last calendar year.

See also: The Ultimate Guide to Programmatic Advertising for CBD & Cannabis

Before sharing our top takeaways on increasing CTR, it’s important to understand the limitations with our data. While our agency works with more CBD and cannabis clients than most, our sample size is still not large enough to elucidate any best practices with statistical certainty. There are also a wide variety of variables at play within each ad, making it impossible to isolate the exact cause of any individual increases in click-through rate. Finally, 2020 was—to put it mildly—a very unique year: We cannot know whether the same ads would perform the same way in 2019, or 2021, that they did in 2020.

With all of that said, there are still some pro tips we’ve gleaned from this deep dive into programmatic advertising data for a relatively new vertical. We hope the following recommendations will help established cannabis and CBD marketers test and learn what works best for their own brands as they pursue more aggressive revenue growth and greater market share through digital advertising.

Reach unconventional audiences.

Simply put, most ads are focused on products that the advertiser in question wants their audience to buy. When an ad comes along with a different message, it’s a lot more likely to catch the viewer’s eye.

After beginning their digital advertising push by running a standard B2C ad set, one CBD advertiser approached us with a new marketing goal: They wanted to raise investor awareness. We helped them create a new set of ads speaking directly to potential investors, which represented a smaller but far more specific group.

See also: Report: Cannabis & CBD Digital Advertising Trends in 2020

While the advertiser’s original B2C display ads hovered at a below-average 0.08% click-through rate, their investor awareness campaign nearly tripled that, with the top-performing ad style driving 0.24% CTR across all ad sizes (while the second ad design we tested drove 0.20% CTR). The result was one of our most effective CBD display ad campaigns in 2020.

The bottom line: More than simply testing two ad concepts against each other, consider A/B testing campaigns around two different marketing goals—you may be surprised by what you can achieve by thinking outside the box.

Offer a promotion—and make it unmissable.

One of our top-performing CBD ads of 2020 was for an advertiser who A/B tested four different ad styles in two flights. Their top-performing concept outshined its A/B counterpart by a full 0.04%, with an extremely strong 0.21% click-through compared to the already-strong 0.17% CTR of the other ad. The difference? The first ad showcased a 15% off promotion, making the offer huge to the point that it was unmissable. The other ad did not include the promotion.

Though the next set of ads that the brand A/B tested both featured the 15% off promotion, neither made this portion of the copy as large as the first ad did, and each of these later ads topped out at a 0.19% CTR.

The bottom line: It’s no secret that including a promotion increases click-through and conversion rates across most digital advertising channels. To make your promotion work harder for you, make it extra-large to the point that your viewers can’t help but see it.

Crank up the color.

In reviewing the impact of visual design choices (static versus animated formats, lifestyle versus product photography, etc.) on cannabis and CBD ad click-through, one element seemed to make the biggest difference: The use of bright background colors within the banner.

As explored in our recent report on cannabis and CBD advertising trends, the most commonly used ad style features product shots on single- or multi-color backgrounds. All of our top-performing ads from the last year used bright colors in some way, including a few on black backgrounds leveraging unusually bright accent colors to make their advertisements pop.

See also: Can’t Get Your CBD Ads Approved on Facebook or Google? Here’s What to Do

Primary colors (reds, yellows, and blues) were particularly popular, but pinks, greens, and teals also made appearances at the top of our CTR list.

The bottom line: While we don’t believe that brands should sacrifice alignment with their visual identity in choosing their entire ad color scheme, we suggest leveraging whatever brand colors you have at your disposal to catch your customers’ eye with online ads that stand out.

There is far more research to be done on increasing cannabis and CBD ad click-through in the future, and as we’ve emphasized before, best practices for every individual brand are different. That said, cannabis and CBD advertisers pursuing rapid growth in 2021 and beyond should begin test-driving the tactics above to determine how much they can increase click-through rates (and ultimately conversions) across all of their digital advertising campaigns.


Not yet running effective digital ad campaigns to grow your brand? We can help with that. Get in touch here.

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Brett Konen is the senior marketing manager at PrograMetrix.

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