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Can CBD Companies Advertise on Google & Facebook?

Published on October 09, 2019
by Samer Awada

As the CBD boom continues, more and more CBD companies are sprouting up and joining the green rush. The market is growing rapidly and CBD startups are adding an even wider variety to the selection of CBD products available to consumers. You’ll find everything from CBD oil to CBD skincare and hair products, edibles and even pet products.

The projections for this market are astronomical, with some numbers estimating the market value reaching over $20 billion by as soon as 2024. With all this exciting forward movement, CBD entrepreneurs are buckling down and strategizing their plans of attack when it comes to marketing their products to figure out what is going to work best for their business. 

Once a CBD company have their inventory and fulfillment plan ready, their website and brand identity live on the web, their next step is to market their products. But at the moment, there is a wall that many CBD companies are coming up against.

One of the staple methods companies are utilizing to market is online advertising - and naturally, the two biggest entities startups desire to have visibility on is Facebook and Google. However, this is where many companies end up getting stuck and having to recalculate their plans.

So the question is: Can CBD companies Advertise on Google and Facebook? The quick answer is no, currently, CBD companies are not permitted to advertise on Google and Facebook

But since legislation and public opinion are still shifting, and since research is still being conducted on the effects and benefits of CBD, there is still room for change to happen; not to mention Facebook and Google are constantly releasing updates. So this is not to say that CBD advertising will never be allowed, just that there are currently certain restrictions in place that make it necessary for CBD entrepreneurs to look at other options.

Why Is CBD Advertising Restricted on Facebook? 

The latest numbers via Facebook’s newsroom show that there are currently 360 million people actively using Facebook. That is a massive amount of people spanning many different ages and walks of life. Because of the enormous variety and sheer numbers of people using it, Facebook’s responsibility to the public prompts them to take precautions before anything else. They are quick to restrict questionable content so users are protected from being exposed to offensive or harmful messages; they’d rather end up restricting something in error than letting something that could cause issues for users or their legal team slip through the cracks. Facebook prohibits ads that promote the sale or the use of illegal drugs, whether they are recreational or prescription.

This includes ads showing any drug-related items, the image of the cannabis leaf or plant, or anything that could imply recreational use of a drug - and since Instagram is now owned and run by Facebook, the same can be said of Instagram. One of the latest updates issued by Facebook made it possible for results from verified CBD-related accounts to show up when a user searches terms such as “marijuana” and “cannabis.” This means you can list your cannabis company once you are Facebook verified. Facebook also allowed advertisers to run topical hemp ads, with the caveat that they not display the actual image of the product in the ads. 

Why is CBD Advertising Restricted on Google? 

Google, like Facebook, also prohibits cannabis or CBD advertising on their channels. This is because their policy restricts ads for substances capable of altering your mental state while being used recreationally. If it makes you high, Google restricts advertising for it. Advertisements for products or services that are meant to aid in recreational drug use or ads for content about using, producing or purchasing recreational drugs won’t be approved on the Google advertising platforms. If you try to run these types of ads, you will be disapproved and there is a chance your account might be suspended, especially if you are a repeat offender. 

Other Ways to Market CBD

Like any good business, when you run into a wall you don’t just stop and turn back. You pivot and find a way around it. While Facebook and Google might currently restrict you from running ads (for now,) there is still plenty you can do to market and advertise your products.

First of all, there are other platforms out there, albeit not quite as massive as the big two, but still very viable as far as generating new customers. Second, aside from traditional advertising, there are so many other marketing tools that can be used to get the word out.

Email marketing continues to be a strong and viable vehicle for building your customer base. Leveraging current customer data can help you identify look-alike audiences, helping you find new customers who share traits like your current ones. This is some of the most valuable information you can wield because it can help you craft your brand identity and content strategy, making it more precise and effective at bringing in the right type of customer who will convert. 

But what is the best and fastest way to grow your customer base? Most CBD companies are now investing heavily on search engine optimization.

Why CBD Companies are Turning to SEO 

While you won’t be able to use Google's advertising platform (Google Adwords) to advertise your CBD products, you can still appear on Google through a well-executed SEO campaign. Doing the groundwork with your SEO is a tried and true method of significantly increasing traffic to your site and can help you become the go-to CBD company for new customers over time.

While it is not as instantaneous as an ad, investing today on a well-rounded on-site and off-site SEO will help give your CBD company longevity. CBD companies can always lean on organic search rankings to help them compete in this space.

The Sooner Your Start The Better

The best part is that since this market is still considered nascent in the grand scheme of things and nebulous when it comes to what’s allowed and what’s not, doing your SEO now rather than later can have your company sitting comfortably at the top of the search results for whichever terms you optimize for now while other companies will be busy, scrambling to catch up later. 

Some ways to implement a solid SEO strategy for your CBD company include having: 

  • Optimizing for competitive keywords in the CBD niche
  • Title and header tags properly named and organized on your site
  • Image alt/title tags are filled out with contextual information so Google can index properly
  • URLs named correctly
  • Having an active CBD blog to establish authority in the niche
  • Well structured URL's and navigation on your website
  • Quality link building campaigns (blogger outreach)

These are some of the most basic and yet very impactful things you can do to lay a solid SEO foundation. If it’s not done properly, you can miss out on opportunities to rise in the search results, so if it is not something you or your team can handle yourself, the best thing to do is to enlist the help of an experienced agency or freelancer. 

Best Practices & Industry Legality

When writing your copy and firing off any content that has to do with your CBD products, make sure you are complying with your local state-level laws; things like including specific language and disclaimers may be required or else you could run into legal troubles and be forced to cease and desist. 

Your targeting is of utmost importance as well. Be sure that you focus any ads or content that is being sent out onto platforms where the majority of the audience is over 21 and where the content doesn’t show consumption or target minors. The wording in your content and ads should never make false health claims, so research what wording is acceptable with entities like the FDA. 

Category: SEO

Samer Awada

Samer Awada

Software developer & digital marketer living in Miami FL.
Follow him on Twitter: @sam_devworld