The Cannabis industry is quickly evolving. With a projected revenue of $30 billion by 2025 ($3.5 billion in Michigan), it’s paramount the advertising industry keeps pace with the growth in this category. Currently, Cannabis marketing is rife with challenge. An array of laws and regulations at the Federal, State, and even County level can make advertising tricky. Many cannabis-related businesses are questioning how to stand out in a market so heavily regulated. The good news: there ARE strategies these businesses can use to advertise products and services!

The following list is an example of common regulations on advertising creative. Individual state policies will vary:

  • No curative health claims
  • No elements that could appeal to children
  • No false or misleading statements
  • No testimonials or endorsements
  • No product consumption
  • No pricing, potency statements, or promotional offers
  • Ads for infused products must state ‘for adult use only’

The two largest players in the industry, Google and Facebook, reject Cannabis advertising across all of their platforms (Facebook, Instagram, Google Ads/SEM, GDN, YouTube, DV360, and others). Without being able to access these platforms, it’s extremely important to have an understanding on where you can advertise and how to diversify your marketing. Below are a few platforms and strategies that MLive/Advance can provide our Cannabis partners:

Publisher-direct

MLive, Michigan’s #1 site for news and information with 2.4MM uniques/month, provides large scale and targetability across the State. Below are some targeted strategies that are approved to run across MLive.com:

  • Contextual targeting – serve ads to users who are engaging (and have engaged) in Cannabis content (able to exclude Cannabis criminal content)
  • Behavior targeting – target users who exhibit “Cannacurious” behaviors such as craft-beer lovers, people who exhibit behaviors of anxiety, alternative/holistic medicine seekers, etc.
  • High Impact placements – Homepage Takeovers layering 21+, Sponsorships within engaging and creative platforms (brackets, questionnaires, and events, etc)
  • Rich Media ad units incorporating slideshow photos, videos, mapping technologies, etc.
  • Print – sticky notes, front page strip ads
  • Statewide virtual event sponsorships + panelist opportunities

 

Content Marketing

Content Marketing is an effective way for any cannabis business to create brand awareness, differentiate themselves, and educate their prospective customers, a key component in overcoming the knowledge gap and reducing stigma.

  • Sponsored articles + Native promotion
  • Content Hub which houses advertiser’s articles, videos, podcasts under a single url
  • Montage videos – 0:15, 0:30 + In-story Video promotion
  • Podcasts

 

PROGRAMMATIC DISPLAY AND VIDEO

In having access to a Cannabis-approved DSP (Demand Side Platform), we’re able to serve display and video campaigns to those who are either in-market for THC (BtoC audience) or to Growers (BtoB audience).  The hundreds of hand-picked publishers we run campaigns across have pre-approved Cannabis advertising on their sites/apps.  This makes for delivery across brand safe environments, and ensures that your campaign will not be blocked.

  • Behavior Targeting: Serve ads to users who are “in-market for TCH” or who are “Growers”
  • Video opportunities include :15 and/or :30 pre-roll video, OTT/CTV + dynamic creative
  • Retargeting -retarget users who have visited your website, keeping your brand top-of-mind to those who have already expressed an interest

 

LOCATION-BASED TARGETING

In partnering with a location-based, Cannabis-approved DSP, we’re able to target users based on their location (past and current).

  • Geo-fencing + foot traffic reporting – serve ads to users while they’re visiting relevant locations, such as competitor dispensaries, pain centers, chiropractic offices, yoga studios, etc.  Then track how many of these people stepped foot into YOUR location.
  • App retargeting – target users who have downloaded specific apps, such as Leafly, Weedmaps, onto their mobile device

 

Social (organic)

Even though PAID social ads aren’t available for cannabis-related businesses, that doesn’t mean ORGANIC social media can’t be used as a great marketing tool. Creating content within your social channels is extremely important in building your following and engaging your target audience.

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