How to Run Compliant Digital Display Ads

Now that cannabis is reaching groundbreaking strides within the legal system and becoming more socially accepted, the question remains — why aren’t there more digital ads showcasing cannabis brands? While cannabis brands are currently not allowed to run their advertising campaigns through Facebook, Instagram, and Google, there are other avenues businesses can use. In this blog post, Cannabis360 explores these alternatives and explains the guidelines for cannabis ad campaign compliance.

Other Options for Cannabis Advertisement

Google and Facebook are two of the most well-known platforms in the world. It comes as no surprise that combined, they account for approximately half of all digital advertising dollars spent in the United States. Because cannabis advertising is prohibited on these two marketing behemoths, many business owners might believe that cannabis digital advertising altogether is not allowed. However, this is not the case.

Cannabis digital ads can easily be featured on hundreds of mainstream websites using programmatic advertising technology. This technology is highly advantageous as it allows advertisers and their ad agencies to use demand-side platforms (DSPs). With DSPs, you can set the parameters of bids for certain ad impressions based on relevant attributes of the ad space and the viewers.

What’s more, cannabis ads are no longer restricted to being featured on cannabis-related sites only. In the past, digital cannabis advertisers were generally limited to buying space on industry-specific sites, such as Leafly, High Times, and Weedmaps. Because of this, advertising prices were often increased, causing ad budgets to dissipate very quickly.

Today, through programmatic advertising technology, cannabis ads can be shown through just about any website, making advertising far more affordable. Furthermore, cannabis businesses have more advanced advertising techniques at their disposal, such as building look-alike audiences, cross-device advertising, first-party data onboarding, and ad retargeting.

Rules for Cannabis Digital Advertising

Even though some marketers are aware that cannabis advertising can be shown outside of cannabis websites, they may not fully understand what digital ads can look like. With cannabis classified as a Schedule I drug, current digital advertising regulations are governed by state cannabis laws, meaning they vary depending on where your business operates. This is vital information should you wish to run digital ads across multiple states.

Luckily for cannabis ad agencies, many state laws can be boiled down to a handful of broadly applicable guidelines. They include:

  • Under no circumstances are ads allowed to make claims of health or medical benefits
  • Ads cannot use any elements that might appeal to children, such as cartoon characters
  • No false or misleading statements, including those made about competitors’ products
  • Testimonials or endorsements from doctors or other healthcare professionals are forbidden
  • Ads are restricted from showing the cannabis product being consumed in any form
  • No pricing information, potency statements, or promotional offers
  • Ads regarding infused products must state “For Adult Use Only”

Sticking to these guidelines, marketers will be able to create approved ads for a variety of settings with more ease. While these provisions are a good base, we still recommend double-checking with your state’s most recent requirements, as local rules may change over time.

Digital Ads vs. Traditional Marketing Tactics

Due to the lack of digital ad publishers willing to work with cannabis businesses in the past, cannabis marketers often resorted to traditional advertising tactics like billboards and print ads. As beneficial as traditional marketing can be, it features some shortcomings, particularly with targeting, measurement, and reporting.

For instance, print marketing materials cannot tell you how many people have viewed the ad, or how many of these viewers visited your website or dispensary after seeing them. They also provide no insights into your return on ad spend (ROAS). Another obstacle is that you cannot control who sees the ad, which is one of the main reasons why most states have treaded this subject cautiously.

Digital ads address many of these concerns for marketers and business owners. These ads can be exclusively shown to the appropriate audience and tackle the challenges with measurement and reporting. When implementing digital ads into your marketing campaign, you can better understand the return on your digital ad investment, helping you decide whether or not to continue with the same ads or change your strategy.

Digital Display Ads with Cannabis360

The cannabis industry remains to be one of the fastest-growing in the U.S., which is why it’s so surprising that it has yet to adopt digital advertising more broadly. Cannabis360 looks to address that by expertly understanding and strategically leveraging various marketing options. As a full-service cannabis marketing partner, we understand the obstacles cannabis businesses face and are happy to take on the challenge. For more information about the ways we can help market your brand, please contact us today.