It is difficult to ignore the growing presence of cannabidiol all around us and in our everyday products. The healing compound retails at our farmer’s markets, coffee shops, and more recently, the drugstore chain CVS. So it must be okay to advertise CBD on Google, right? While the decriminalization of cannabis on a statewide level rises, CBD advertising online isn’t free from regulatory shackles.

In this article, I’ll explain what CBD is, how it differs from marijuana, the effect it has on the industry, and the steps needed for digital advertising compliance.

The CBD industry: Market opportunity 

As CBD enters the mainstream and the benefits of cannabidiol become more established, the industry continues to grow rapidly. The plant has the potential to help those who suffer from acute and chronic pain, seizures, and anxiety. These benefits largely contribute to its popularity as an alternative to both medical and recreational marijuana consumers.

Studies reveal that the North American cannabis industry is expected to reach $16 billion by the end of 2019 – an impressive leap considering the $10 billion investors placed in the U.S. market just a year ago (over 50% growth). Wall Street cannabis analyst, Cowen Vivien Azer, speculates the U.S. cannabis industry will reach an astounding $80 billion by 2030. This assumes that we continue to trend toward national availability. CBD, however, remains one of the most profitable product categories in the industry. Azer claims CBD will bring in total revenue of $1.6 billion in the U.S. within the next 1-2 years. 

Despite an impressive industry forecast and successful track record of growth, CBD advertising in the industry isn’t cut and dry. Discriminatory advertising policies have curtailed e-commerce sales on an industry-wide level. Statistics show that 97% of start-ups in the cannabis industry fail in their first year. This is comparative to just 20% of small businesses.

If you are a CBD entrepreneur looking for tips and tricks on how to advertise CBD online, you are in the right place. This article will show you how to advertise CBD on Google, Facebook, and Instagram in a few easy steps. First, let’s explore the differences between CBD and marijuana, and how evolving cannabis laws and regulations affect the CBD advertising industry.

What is CBD, and how is it different than marijuana?

The chances are you’ve heard of CBD, but you may not know exactly what it is. CBD is one of the many chemical compounds found in cannabis plants, known as “cannabinoids.” THC may be the most well-known cannabinoid for its ability to get people high. CBD, however, is a rising star for its capacity to deliver a range of mental and physical benefits. While CBD comes in many forms, the most common is CBD oil. When you pair CBD extract with a carrier, such as coconut oil, it can be applied topically, vaped, or ingested.

At the University of California Davis School of Medicine, Yu-Fung Lin, associate professor of physiology and membrane biology, teaches a course on cannabis physiology. She says that CBD is not psychotropic – meaning it won’t induce euphoria or alter one’s perception of reality. Instead, CBD targets a wide variety of proteins in the brain and nervous system that offer relief from nausea, pain, and anxiety. CBD may also benefit our immune system and bones. It works broadly through the body as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, the effects of which could protect cells from damage associated with neurodegenerative diseases.

CBD derives from both hemp plants and marijuana plants. While they share some of the same characteristics, the difference comes down to one major factor. That is the presence of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). The marijuana commonly referenced in the medical and recreational markets contains up to 30% THC. Hemp, on the other hand, holds no more than 0.3%. What does all this mean? Well, marijuana will get you “high” and CBD-rich hemp won’t – not even a little bit. 

Cannabis laws and regulations

While the legalization of medical and recreational marijuana on a state and federal level is murky at best, the use and legality of CBD products are even more clouded.

Currently, medical marijuana is legal in 33 states, plus Washington DC. Ten of these states (Alaska, California, Colorado, Main, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington) plus Washington D.C. have further expanded their laws to include recreational marijuana use. 66% of states and approximately ⅔ of Americans have voted for the legalization of marijuana in some form. However, federal law does not currently recognize the distinction between hemp strains from other cannabis plants. 

The group of plants itself was effectively criminalized in 1937 with the passing of the Marijuana Tax Act, and further made illegal with the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. In 2014, Congress approved the Farm Bill, allowing specific pilot programs to study the benefits of hemp-derived products.

The Farm Bill of 2018 takes it a step further, broadly allowing hemp cultivation across state lines for both commercial and other purposes. However, individuals and businesses still face strict regulatory compliances.

  • For protection under federal law, hemp products cannot contain more than 0.3% THC.
  • States must devise and submit a hemp regulatory program plan to the USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture) OR compliance with a federally-run program.
  • Lastly, the bill specifies violations, details punishments, creates a pathway for violators to become legal, and specifies what actions are considered felonies under the law.

Hemp-derived CBD: Where are we now?

While the 2018 Farm Bill approved the production of hemp and CBD oil, the law requires a regulatory framework not yet established in all states. Once your state is approved, the use and sale of hemp-derived CBD should be acceptable at a state level.

Currently, CBD regulations are patchy and unpredictable, crossing a variety of cities and states. Some areas, like NYC and Ohio, are imposing fines on outlets who sell CBD-infused food and drinks. Comparatively, the governor of Maine signed an emergency bill this year allowing the sale of CBD in food and products after state inspectors threatened to remove them from the shelves. Other players in the game, such as Walgreens and CVS, are offering hemp-based CBD lotions nationwide. For now, the FDA hasn’t explicitly expressed concern. 

CBD advertising tips and tricks

While marijuana remains federally illegal, it’s essential to keep in mind that legitimate hemp-based CBD cannot have the presence of THC. Those who are interested in advertising CBD online must take great care to ensure they are not promoting CBD-oil derived from marijuana, rather than hemp.

Commercial retailers should proceed with caution when advocating the health benefits of their products. Health benefits are scrutinized by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and, to some degree, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). If you decide to run CBD advertising that makes medical and health claims, you will need evidence to support these claims. 

How to advertise CBD on google 

So . . . with all of this in mind, can you advertise CBD on Google, or not? The answer is yes, it is possible to advertise CBD on Google with the right approach. CBD entrepreneurs and marketers need to find a way to promote their CBD product in a way that doesn’t interfere with Google’s ad policy.

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    You may have already attempted to create a standard ad campaign on Google for your CBD product and have gotten denied. Some people may be able to fly under the radar for a day or two. However, AdWords will remove your CBD campaign the moment it scrawls the content on your landing page and website. Google removes most normal campaigns that advertise CBD in less than two weeks. This may result in disapproval of your ads and even permanent suspension of your account.

    If you decide to move forward with CBD advertising with Google AdWords (Google Ads), you should proceed with caution. Google AdWords could flag your billing information, and even your entire domain, to prevent you from attempting to advertise CBD online with a new account.

    CBD advertising on Google

    The good news is that it’s entirely possible to advertise CBD on Google without running the risk of violating AdWords terms and conditions. Here’s how:

    • First, create a new Google AdWords specifically for CBD advertising and your CBD product. This way, you won’t interfere with any other products you sell if AdWords finds a problem with your account.
    • Second, set your budget and location as you usually would. Set your campaign type to “Paid Search Ads.”
    • Select keywords and match types based on your product and industry. Your focus words should include things like “CBD” and “hemp.” Next, set your bid (cost-per-click) per word.
    • Now you will write your ad. Make sure you avoid promoting your CBD product directly. Instead, try using terms that hint at the products you offer.
    • Finally, create a landing page that promotes your CBD product without selling it directly. This will help you avoid interference with Google’s terms and conditions.

    How to advertise CBD on Facebook

    Trying to navigate ever-evolving cannabis regulations is stressful enough, and now you have to add CBD advertising to your list of complications? If you are a CBD business owner struggling to advertise CBD on Facebook, you are in the right place.

    Facebook recently placed a ban on advertising ingestible hemp and CBD products. The issue is that Facebook’s advertising policy did not specifically mention these products. This caused frustration among various CBD brands, and even garnered a lawsuit claiming deceptive practices.

    Although Facebook has relaxed its “total” ban on CBD-derived products, the new policies only benefit advertisers of topical hemp. The new rule poses complications for suppliers of ingestible hemp that want to advertise CBD on Facebook. Ad campaigns cannot directly feature those products. Facebook still prohibits ads for ingestible CBD, including advertisements with landing pages that promote it.

    Facebook Jail

    If you create a CBD ad, it may run for a couple of days. However, as soon as Facebook scrawls your ad and landing page for “CBD” terminology, you will likely be suspended and placed in “Facebook Jail.”

    Facebook Jail may sound like a joke, but it’s actually how the social media platform punishes you for not following the rules. When you violate Facebook’s terms and conditions, you may not be able to access the ad manager. They can even lock you out of your account. If you want to be taken seriously as a business on Facebook and maintain your current following, it’s a good idea to follow the rules.

    CBD advertising on Facebook

    So, you’re probably wondering if it is even possible to advertise CBD on Facebook! The answer is yes, but advertising CBD online will take a bit of time and some creative work-around. Here’s how you do it:

    • Create a new Facebook business account for your CBD brand. Make sure to exclude any mention of Cannabidiol and CBD from your new page.
    • Purchase a new domain that doesn’t include CBD anywhere in the name. Build your entire e-commerce website (or create a copy) on your new domain.
    • CBD images are entirely okay to use, but you want to refrain from using any CBD or related keywords on your website.
    • Get creative, and explain the benefits of your product to your user without directly saying what it is.
    • Create a Facebook ad that doesn’t mention CBD in the image or ad copy. Instead, focus on the benefits of your product and the ailments it may address.
    • Target an audience demographic who have expressed an interest in “hemp oil.” Finally, launch your compliant CBD campaign!

    How to advertise CBD on Instagram 

    If you are a new CBD entrepreneur, you are likely exploring all avenues of promoting your business. With over 1 billion active Instagram users and 80% of those accounts following a company, the need to incorporate Instagram into your CBD marketing plan shouldn’t fall by the wayside. 

    Despite widespread legalizations and impressive market forecasts, the legal cannabis industry is a challenging world to navigate. While significant advertising platforms like Google and Facebook continue to respond to the progression of cannabis laws differently, the question remains – is it possible to advertise CBD on Instagram?

    Unfortunately, similarly to Google, Facebook (who owns Instagram) aligns with the DEA in classifying CBD as a “dangerous product.” This makes it challenging to advertise CBD online, resulting in the rejection and removal of any CBD advertising and related products. Strict ad regulations ultimately leave those who want to advertise CBD on Instagram with limited options. 

    However, there is a solution that will allow business owners to advertise CBD on Instagram: Influencer Marketing. 

    CBD advertising with Influencer Marketing

    Influencer marketing isn’t just a buzzword for attention-seeking millennials. It’s a strategy that really works. With influencer marketing, CBD brands partner with influencers to gain access to highly engaged and targeted audiences. The best part? This tactic completely removes the red tape and risk of getting your account shut down. 

    Statistics reveal that influencer marketing often generates a better ROI than paid alternatives. According to Nielsen Research, 92% of consumers trust the recommendations of their friends, family, and those whom they admire, compared to an average Facebook click-through rate of 1%. When you partner with influencers, you promote your products without having to follow strict advertising guidelines. Your CBD brand will seamlessly appear on your potential customers’ feeds as they interact with their favorite accounts.

    Furthermore, influencers are some of the best CBD brand advocates in the health and wellness space. If you want to advertise CBD on Instagram, gain visibility, and grow your following, partner with people who are eager to buy, try, and advocate for amazing CBD products. 

    Joining the growing market of CBD

    The allure of a healthy and expanding market has entrepreneurs questioning how they can help pioneer the progression of the CBD industry. Companies that offer CBD have a tremendous opportunity, as advocates of CBD claim that the healing compound offers anti-inflammatory, anti-anxiety, and pain-relieving effects.

    Navigating the complex and ever-changing world of cannabis in the 21st century isn’t simple, but it doesn’t have to be difficult, either. When you consider the type of CBD product you’re interested in marketing, you can then examine your target demographics and state regulations. With a little bit of education and finesse, you can learn how to advertise CBD on Google and achieve success advertising CBD online.

    LiftIntent CBD advertising capabilities

    The LiftIntent platform allows CBD brands and businesses to advertise across all programmatic channels, including connected TV, native, video, display, email, and audio advertising.

    Our CBD media kit gives additional information on our CBD advertising capabilities.

    If you’re interested in our programmatic CBD marketing and CBD advertising services, contact us to get our CBD media kit, CBD oil case study, and to go over your campaign goals.