By on July 7th, 2021

How Cannabis Multi-State Operators Can Grow with Compliant Programmatic Advertising

Cannabis MSOs should utilize data-driven programmatic advertising to grow their brands.

During the pandemic, medicinal and recreational cannabis use across the U.S. drastically increased, with multi-state operators (MSOs) closing out 2020 with record sales and revenue. The cannabis industry continues to grow, and sales remain higher each year. This is primarily a result of legislative changes throughout the nation.

The legalization of cannabis in Connecticut, New York, New Mexico, and Virginia are additional steps towards full legalization in the U.S.  Additionally, legalization helps remove the stigma around cannabis use that has prevented some from reaping the potential health benefits and enjoyment of using cannabis related products. As more states legalize recreational use, entrepreneurs and investors pour capital into cannabis distribution and retail.

Yet, with all the positive changes and growth in the industry, MSOs still face challenges operating and marketing their businesses. Facebook, Instagram, Google, and other digital marketing platforms are often the go-to online marketing solution. However, it's difficult and often impossible to get cannabis ads approved on these platforms due to advertising rules and restrictions. Additionally, keeping up with the industry's rapidly changing landscape and complying with regulatory changes also makes it challenging for MSOs to market their brand.

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

Market Your Cannabis Brand with Compliant Programmatic Advertising

Although MSOs face marketing challenges, they can overcome these obstacles and grow their cannabis businesses with innovative, data-driven, and compliant digital advertising solutions. Few cannabis business owners and marketers realize that though they cannot advertise on Facebook, Instagram, Google, or Amazon, they absolutely can advertise across a myriad of online websites in a fully compliant fashion.

With the right digital strategy, advertising technology, and marketing talent, cannabis brands can target known cannabis consumers across premium websites like USA Today, Newsweek, and Barstool Sports (just to name a few)

To help with your marketing strategy, below we outline audience targeting tactics and ad tech capabilities tailored for cannabis MSOs that you can use to accelerate your digital advertising initiatives.

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

Mobile Geofencing

Geofencing is a type of location-based marketing solution that allows you to target cell phone users in a specific geographic area. Mobile geofencing combines global positioning systems (GPS), Wi-Fi, radio-frequency identification (RFID), and Bluetooth technologies.

By utilizing these technologies, cannabis companies can create a virtual boundary, or geofence, around a specific store or radius they want to target. Mobile users who have location services enabled on their phones can then be targeted within these boundaries or geofences. With location services enabled, mobile device IDs are cataloged when the devices enter the defined geofence. Once the IDs are collected, cannabis brands can target these users with mobile ads to promote their dispensary stores, products, and offers. Brands can then extend the reach of mobile geofencing campaigns by leveraging cross-device targeting technology to advertise across other connected devices (i.e., laptops, tablets, desktops, and Smart TVs) at an individual user level.

Cannabis brands can attract new customers and drive repeat customers through mobile geofencing.

Location Retargeting

Once a customer visits your store and completes a purchase, you’ll want a way to follow up. Many MSOs offer loyalty programs and store customer phone numbers in point-of-sale systems. Many cannabis dispensaries deploy SMS marketing campaigns.

A less know but equally effective marketing strategy is location retargeting. This tactic allows you to target customers who have previously visited your store to keep your brand, products, and locations top of mind. Using the same technology described above, cannabis marketers can utilize geofencing technology to target previous customers with promotional offers to drive repeat business.

Geofence Conquesting

Geofence conquesting also relies on mobile geofence technologies, but this strategy allows dispensaries to conquest against competitive retail locations. You can create boundaries around your competitors’ locations and target their customers when they enter and leave the geofenced locations. This is an opportunity to provide a compelling offer to lure cannabis consumers away from your competitors and into your stores.

Leveraging First-Party Data

Cannabis MSOs collect various data sets about their customers. Most of this data comes through POS systems, customer relationship management (CRM) systems, websites, or a combination of these platforms. This data provides emails, phone numbers, and/or IP addresses.

One use of first-party data the many cannabis marketers fail to utilize is retargeting previous website visitors. By simply installing a tracking tag on your website, you can remarket to previous website visitors across thousands of websites while they browse their favorite digital content across desktop, mobile, video, audio, and Smart TV devices.

Utilizing Third-Party Data

Our team at PrograMetrix has developed strategic partnerships with several cannabis consumer data companies such as New Frontier Data, Lotame, and Distillery. Through these relationships, we can obtain data to target known cannabis consumers who have not shopped at your dispensary locations or purchased any of the cannabis products you distribute. By leveraging our custom third-party data segments, you can reach new consumers you haven't reached before. This is a great way to acquire new customers through targeted digital advertising.

Examples of third-party cannabis consumer segments that are available (but not limited to) includes:

  • Dispensary visitors
  • Edible consumers
  • Tincture consumers
  • Gummy consumers
  • Sativa shoppers
  • Indica shoppers
  • Pre-roll consumers
  • Cannabis vape pen purchasers

Targeting Mobile App Owners

Android and iOS smartphone users have access to a wide range of cannabis-related mobile apps, such as Eaze, Leafly, and WeedMaps. MSOs who want to grow their business with compliant marketing can target consumers who have these types of apps installed on their phones.

New and Emerging Digital Advertising Channels

Most cannabis MSOs have struggled to find a way to advertise online. Even fewer cannabis marketers have executed omnichannel advertising campaigns across all available digital media channels. Omnichannel marketing now includes advertising across Connected TV (CTV) and digital audio devices. Advertising investment in CTV and digital audio channels is growing at record rates, and few cannabis brands have tapped into these channels. This presents a huge opportunity for leading cannabis MSOs who want to separate themselves from the competition.

Below we dive deeper into the nuances of these high-growth and emerging channels:

  • Connected TV (CTV) advertising, also known as over-the-top (OTT) advertising, refers to ads on streaming TV platforms, which are available on most devices. CTV ads allow your brand to stand out because they provide the viewer with engaging, high-quality video content that showcases the story of your brand, products, and store locations. By leveraging this channel, you can now reach cannabis consumers with 15 and 30 second high-definition TV commercials.
  • Digital audio advertising involves audio ad campaigns that run on music and podcast streaming services instead of traditional radio. For example, you might hear a digital audio ad on Spotify, iHeartRadio, or SoundCloud. Most adults spend more time listening to digital audio than AM/FM radio. Digital audio ads often have high engagement because they are listener-friendly, and they provide the same depth of brand voice as CTV ads. Cannabis companies can tell their story to draw consumers to their products or business.

Age Group and Geographic Targeting

Remaining compliant with your marketing campaigns requires targeting consumers that are age 21 and older and implementing strict geographic parameters. Cannabis brands can only serve ads to users 21+ in states where recreational cannabis use has been legalized. Most cannabis brands need a trusted partner to manage the implementation of age group and geo targeting parameters in each digital ad campaign.

Grow Your Cannabis Business with a Team You Can Trust

Deploying advanced marketing techniques and staying compliant with advertising regulations creates challenges for multi-state operators. To overcome these challenges, you need to invest in cutting-edge ad tech, stay current with advertising compliance, and work with a team of experts you can trust. The partner you choose to work with must have extensive cannabis and CBD industry experience, a strong track record of supporting cannabis brands, and case studies that showcase real results. To advertise like a mainstream health, wellness, or retail brand and not "just another pot shop”, our team at PrograMetrix can help.

To learn more about our compliant and data-driven digital advertising solutions for cannabis brands, you can download our Digital Ads for Cannabis & CBD white paper or your can schedule a free consultation to speak to a member of our team.

Ready to Take Your Cannabis Advertising to the Next Level?

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