Marketing can make or break any business. But what if you can’t use your product name in paid ads and on social media? This is exactly the dilemma CBD marketers are up against. Why? Because Google, Facebook, and Instagram don’t technically allow CBD marketing.
But this doesn’t mean you’re out of luck when it comes to getting the word out about your CBD products. It just means you’ve got to get creative with your marketing recipe!
Ready to see something sweet? Here’s a closer look at the issue, why it matters, and how your CBD brand can advertise its products without getting into trouble with Google or social media platforms.
Why CBD Marketing Matters
According to a study conducted by High Yield Insights, more than 40 percent of U.S. consumers over the age of 21 say they’d consider trying CBD. This number is only expected to grow with the mainstreaming of CBD. Which begs the question: Will potential customers find your CBD brand when they go looking?
But CBD marketing isn’t just essential to finding new customers. It can also help you differentiate your brand and products and retain current customers. And while digital marketing is relatively straightforward in many industries, it’s anything but for CBD brands.
Can I Advertise My CBD Brand on Google?
Today’s CBD businesses are familiar with being in uncharted territory, which applies when advertising their products on Google, which restricts CBD advertising. This is due to its dangerous products or services policy, which doesn’t allow for “the promotion of some products or services that cause damage, harm, or injury.” Included in this grouping? Ads for:
- Substances impacting mental state and/or inducing “highs,” including marijuana and “legal highs”
- Products or services that facilitate recreational drug use
- Instructional content about using (and producing and purchasing) recreational drugs
However, there are ways around this to improve the chances of ad approval. These include:
- Using only euphemisms to describe your products (such as “plant-based” and “plant therapeutics”) and avoiding direct references to CBD and hemp-related keywords
- Building a gated landing page with no references to CBD and hemp
- Removing all links to your website from this gated landing page
- Waiting for a few days before adding website links from your gated landing page to your website
We’ve also had some success with a secret recipe, a split approach comprising an SEO-optimized master brand website and a microsite with no CBD mentions for paid ads. However, it’s important to acknowledge that there’s no certainty with these workarounds. And even if your ad gets approved today, you could be slapped with a suspension tomorrow.
Speaking of account suspensions, the potential risks for violating Google's policies are severe. If your account was flagged and shut down, could your business survive the reputational damage and lost income that would almost certainly accompany the closure?
Can I Advertise My CBD Brand on Facebook?
Facebook and Instagram take similar stances. For example, Facebook’s Unsafe Substances policy states, “Ads must not promote the sale or use of illicit or recreational drugs, or other unsafe substances, products or supplements, as determined by Facebook in its sole discretion.”
As with advertising on Google, this is tricky territory, and missteps — accidental or otherwise — can cost you.
A Safer Solution: SEO for CBD Advertising
If your goal is to safeguard your CBD business while still successfully marketing your products, there is another way: search engine optimization (SEO).
Unlike Google Ads, Facebook, and Instagram, there are no restrictions on organic search. This makes SEO a powerful method for driving traffic to your website. Not only will harnessing the power of SEO help you avoid exposing your business to the wrath of paid search and social but there are other benefits to using it to market your CBD brand, too.
High search rankings give your site credibility, authority, and relevance in the eyes of consumers. They’re much more likely to trust Google than they would an ad, which are increasingly viewed as interruptions. Organic search is also more sustainable and easier to maintain than Google Ads. And while it takes time, knowledge, and trial and error to get SEO right, these results are evergreen.
What About Programmatic Ads for CBD Marketing?
Programmatic partners can also be invaluable for CBD brand marketing. Platforms like Taboola and Outbrain allow you to run CBD ads through display, native, and video formats. And while it’s true that Facebook and Google account for a huge portion of the digital ad space, they haven’t completely cornered the market on ad inventory. And many mainstream sites work with these partners, such as HuffPost, USA Today, ESPN, and Politico.
Programmatic display ad campaigns also allow for A/B testing to help you hone in real-time on the ads that are getting the best results.
However, all programmatic platforms aren’t created equal for CBD marketing. Practicing due diligence can help you identify the one with the most appropriate benefits and capabilities for your brand.
There’s no denying that marketing your CBD brand has its fair share of challenges, and new ones emerge every day in the complex and ever-evolving cannabis landscape. While keeping up can be a full-time job, it’s essential to position your CBD brand to survive — and thrive! — in the brave new world of CBD legalization. For help creating a marketing strategy for your CBD brand, reach out to our CAKE team today!