By on June 9th, 2021

How to Scale Your CBD E-commerce Brand with Innovative CBD Advertising Solutions

CBD digital advertising through compliant programmatic media channels delivers great ROI.

The CBD market has been a hot topic over the last several years, with experts projecting astronomical growth. The market didn't meet its 2020 projection, but it still greatly expanded. CBD use and demand will continue to grow, with some analysts estimating the industry to be worth $20 billion by 2025.

To stay relevant and top of mind with consumers, leading CBD brands need to grow with the industry. One crucial way enterprise CBD brands can drive sustainable business growth while increasing market share is to differentiate themselves from the competition through innovative, data-driven, and compliant digital marketing initiatives.

Though marketing within the CBD industry is highly regulated and complex, there are a variety of ways CBD brands can set themselves apart through compliant digital marketing and advertising. Effective strategies include advertising where your competitors aren’t and targeting known CBD consumers where they live their digital lives. Additionally, leveraging CBD consumer data, an omnichannel media strategy, and a variety of compelling ad formats to engage your audience are all tactics CBD marketers can deploy to grow awareness, consideration, sales, and repeat purchases.

This article will outline market-tested strategies that CBD marketers and business owners can utilize to grow their businesses and separate their brands from increased competition in the thriving CBD industry.

Related: Report: Cannabis & CBD Digital Advertising Trends in 2020

Advertise Your CBD Products as Health and Wellness Solutions

Although the CBD market outlook remains positive, the legal gray area associated with products still prevents CBD businesses in some parts of the country from reaching their full potential. As of September 2021, the United States Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) still categorizes cannabis as a Schedule I drug in the same category as LSD (acid), heroin, and ecstasy. Hemp products are legal if they have less than 0.3 percent THC, the psychoactive component of cannabis, but the FDA has not approved CBD for use in dietary or health supplements.

The legal gray area surrounding CBD products makes it difficult for CBD brands to get their advertising campaigns approved on Facebook, Instagram, and Google. Additionally, brands sometimes feel pressure to use obscure messaging in their ads and employ "tongue in cheek" language to market their products. By changing your positioning, messaging, and value proposition statements, it makes it harder to engage and convert your desired audience.

From a marketing perspective, CBD brands that clearly articulate the health and wellness benefits of their products to potential customers drive higher ROI. But how do CBD brands convey their message through digital advertising channels while staying compliant? Contrary to some marketers’ beliefs, CBD brands can openly showcase their product imagery and use CBD in their ad copy through compliant digital advertising channels. What’s the media source that makes this possible? The answer is programmatic media across display, mobile, native, digital video, CTV/OTT, and digital audio channels.

It’s important for enterprise CBD e-commerce brands to utilize the same digital advertising tactics as “mainstream” health and wellness e-commerce brands. CBD brands can leverage the same advertising technology, data sets, and media channels as mainstream health and wellness brands. From Connected TV advertising to using direct calls-to-action (CTAs) like 'buy CBD today', there are proven techniques that today’s forward-thinking CBD marketer can deploy to increase customer engagement, conversion rates, and ROI.

Related: How to Build a Digital Marketing Plan for Cannabis or CBD

Effective and Compliant Digital Advertising Channels for CBD Brands

CBD brands looking for compliant, sustainable, and scalable digital advertising solutions will find programmatic advertising is their best option. Programmatic advertising is the only consistently approved advertising channel that empowers brands to precisely target known CBD consumers with data-driven ads across the web using cutting-edge real-time bidding technology.

Nearly all CBD brands have an overarching goal to separate their brand and product lines from the competition. You can let your marketing stand out with innovative ad formats and media channels which are outlined below.

Connected TV / OTT Advertising

Connected TV (CTV) advertising, sometimes referred to as over-the-top (OTT) advertising, allows CBD brands to target ads through most Smart TV devices and streaming services. Imagine targeting CBD consumers or potential customers that have visited your website with a :15 or :30 second TV commercial on their flat screen at home or their mobile device when they are on the go. Though CTV/OTT advertising is most effective for generating brand awareness, it is a proven media channel that separates forward-thinking CBD brands from the competition because few CBD brands are aware that this high-growth advertising channel is available to them.

Digital Audio Advertising

Most CBD and cannabis brands cannot advertise on traditional radio. However, programmatic digital audio advertising allows enterprise CBD brands to target audio ads across streaming radio platforms, podcasts, and other online audio channels. Like CTV and OTT advertising, digital audio is typically a top-of-funnel advertising channel, but few CBD brands are leaving a lasting impression with compelling audio ads and measuring the number of users who have listened to ads.

Digital Video Advertising

Almost everyone online views digital videos. Many people prefer to watch videos versus reading content. Creating and targeting high-quality digital video ads to CBD consumers across thousands of premium websites helps CBD marketers reach and engage their audience in a compelling fashion.

Native Advertising

Native ads include a broad range of ad formats and are effective because they blend in with the organic content of a webpage. Users might not immediately realize they are looking at a paid ad. As such, users may be more prone to click on native ads if they are targeted well and contextually relevant. Native ad formats include static image ads, carousel, scroll, and cinemagraph. Native ads for CBD brands are served across a wide range of premium websites and have the potential to engage customers at higher rates that static display banner ads.

Mobile Advertising

More than half of global web traffic comes from mobile devices, including phones and tablets. As mobile device usage continues to grow, CBD marketers need to utilize mobile advertising solutions to reach, engage, and convert consumers across their mobile devices. There are a variety of mobile advertising tactics CBD marketers should consider testing which includes geofencing dispensaries, targeting users who have CBD or cannabis apps installed on their phones, and retargeting website visitors on their mobile devices.

Geofence dispensary locations to improve your ad targeting and ROI.

CBD Brand Campaign Approval on Facebook and Instagram

As of this writing, Facebook and Instagram are not long-term sustainable channels for CBD or cannabis brands. The platforms can reject an ad campaign at any time. However, CBD brands can improve their chances of getting ads approved by following a few guidelines and tips. For example, topical CBD products, such as lotions and salves, have the best chance of approval, while other products risk rejection.

Many CBD marketers continue to try to gain traction with paid advertising on Facebook and Instagram despite numerous ad campaign rejections. Marketers need to understand that there is a compliant and sustainable advertising solution through programmatic media that they can tap into today. CBD marketers should focus their efforts on launching, optimizing, and scaling programmatic ad campaigns and wait for Facebook and Instagram to change its ad policies. This may not be the news marketers and business owners in the CBD industry want to hear, but it’s the reality of a highly regulated and complex industry.

Google is Not a Sustainable Channel for CBD Brands

It's even harder for CBD brands to get approval for an ad campaign on Google compared to Instagram or Facebook. Google claims to accept keyword bidding on hemp-based terms, and the platform claims to approve ad copy that uses the word hemp. Though Google claims to accept advertising for hemp brands, it’s not uncommon for Google to reject PPC text ads that use the word hemp in the ad copy. For a hemp brand, paid search campaigns via the Google Ads platform is not a sustainable advertising option.

Google has even harsher rules for CBD and cannabis brands. Marketers simply cannot bid on CBD or cannabis related keyword terms, nor can they use CBD or cannabis terminology in their ad copy. For marketers looking to conduct keyword research through the Google Keyword Planner Tool, a search for ‘CBD’ or ‘cannabis’ yields zero results.

Google does not allow CBD brands to bid on CBD related keyword terms or use CBD in ad copy.

The Digital Ad Solutions You Need to Scale Your CBD E-commerce Brand

You do not have to fight to get approval for running campaigns on Facebook, Instagram, and Google as a CBD brand. Instead, it's best to focus your efforts on programmatic advertising for compliant, sustainable, and scalable digital advertising that is proven to drive ROI. Our team at PrograMetrix supports market-leading CBD brands with digital advertising strategy, campaign management, optimization, and reporting services. We have innovative and market-tested strategies that will work for your brand.

Need help running compliant digital ad campaigns across programmatic, Facebook, Instagram, and Google media channels? Get in touch HERE to see how our team can help you market your CBD e-commerce brand using data-driven, compliant, and market tested strategies.

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Our marketing department operates the PrograMetrix blog and is comprised of multiple contributors.