CBD is Everywhere
If you have recently walked into a health store, pharmacy, or even a grocery store in one of the twelve states where cannabidiol (CBD) oil is legal, you may have noticed a dizzying array of CBD products. It is undeniable that CBD is the health and wellness product du jour, touted by its many advocates as a cure-all that allegedly fights pain, anxiety and depression, helps your sleep, skin, and digestion, and boosts your immune system. Obviously, CBD’s explosion onto the health scene makes it attractive to marketers, but there are some important considerations to make before you commit to riding the ‘Green Wave’.
…But Advertising Options are Restrictive
We see CBD everywhere, but understanding exactly what it is helps you understand the regulatory boundaries that affect how it can be marketed. CBD is a chemical which is found in the Cannabis sativa plant, more commonly known as marijuana or hemp, depending on the strain. However, CBD is not psychoactive, which means you will not feel mentally altered when taking it – at least, no more so then you might from taking ordinary over-the-counter drugs. While the FDA strongly regulates claims about the effects of CBD products or its use in treating various medical conditions, the products themselves are not subject to the same oversight, which means products should be vetted before use as your mileage may vary when it comes to the potency, and possibly the legitimacy, of a given product. The business environment surrounding the growing side of the equation is one side of the equation, but how it gets sold is the hottest topic around CBD.
The CBD market is growing fast, but it still holds a muddy legal position. This stems from a lack of evidence for many of its alleged effects, and the fact that CBD can be found in both marijuana and hemp. While hemp was removed from Schedule I under the Farm Act of 2018 and is now legal to possess, marijuana is still illegal in most states, and consequently so is CBD derived from it. This means that many major platforms – including Google, Instagram, and Twitter – do not allow CBD ads, and though there are some savvy workarounds, that may not be a path you want to go down. Broadcasters also face a very complicated legal position when it comes to advertising CBD, which means television and radio as channels are also essentially a non-option. So, where does that leave CBD marketers with great products that they are ready to launch? Despite the limitations, there are actually some very good ways to get out there and reach CBD audiences.
3 Exciting Ways to Still Reach CBD Consumers
While large platforms like YouTube, Instagram, and Snapchat have recused themselves from the CBD space, you can still serve CBD ads on content hosted elsewhere, such as through podcast sponsorship or affiliate marketing with blogs. There are also marketing mainstays like connected TV and email which can be used effectively. However, there are three other principal channels that are less known, but can be the perfect fit for reaching the CBD market: digital display, native advertising, and digital out-of-home (DOOH).
Digital display is an essential part of nearly every online ad campaign; and for good reason. It is an effective way to serve your campaign to a target audience, track the performance of advertisements in real time, generate conversions, and drive brand awareness. For an added punch, display ads can be strategically placed on relevant pages, such as CBD-related articles, to help hit your desired audience. However, there are some drawbacks to traditional digital display advertising. Not only has the online space become highly saturated with advertisements, but there are skippers, blockers, and bots to contend with as well. Though digital display can and should remain a part of your campaign, it is sensible to investigate other channels as well.
Native ads are similar to digital display, with one advantageous difference – they blend in, and are only identifiable as advertisements by small disclaimers. It seems counter-intuitive that the best ad may be something that doesn’t appear to be an ad at all, but various estimates put engagement with native ads at anywhere from 25% to 58% higher than traditional display. A likely reason for this is that native neatly circumvents ‘ad blindness’, a behavior where consumers bombarded with ads train themselves to automatically ignore anything resembling an ad. With the hype CBD has generated, there is ample content on relevant topics encompassing both general health and the many facets of CBD itself, into which native advertisements can be neatly incorporated, to great effect.
Digital Out of Home
DOOH is perhaps a little less well known, but is an all-around strong channel for marketing, including CBD marketing. As the name suggests, DOOH focuses on the use of digital displays outside of the home, including those such as on digital billboards, and in public locales like public transportation hubs, retail venues, and restaurants. There are a number of advantages that DOOH provides over digital display. Not only is it unskippable and unblockable (short of closing your eyes), it ensures contact with real consumers and gives your brand a chance to stand apart from any other content, mitigating the risk of unwanted associations or diluted messaging. It accomplishes all of this while being fully programmatic, allowing for dynamic switching of content and messaging – say, location targeting that directs customers at a certain billboard to a nearby store carrying your product.
Be Careful with What You Say
Regardless of the channels you intend to use, there are some things not to do when building your CBD campaign. For starters, do not directly make any health or medical claims, unless you want to end up in hot water with the FDA. This restriction on unsubstantiated claims applies to things like customer testimonials, too, so be careful what success stories you share. The FDA also has established that CBD as of the moment is a no-go for dietary consumption, either as an additive to foods and beverages, or as a stand-alone dietary supplement. While the ball has gotten rolling on platforms allowing the advertisement of hemp-based CBD, there are still a myriad of restrictions and pitfalls involved in running a CBD campaign. To be successful you will have to perform your research carefully and be open to channels like native and DOOH. There are still a lot of gray areas for marketers of CBD, but there’s every indication that the “Green Wave” will be a big one.
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