A Handy Guide to CBD Advertising

Melanie Balke
September 6, 2022

When you’re operating within the CBD industry, you learn a lot about legal matters. CBD products may be some of the most profitable things on the market right now, but they’re also surrounded by plenty of regulations and advertising laws.

Unfortunately, inconsistent legislation surrounding CBD products has turned the topic into a bit of a digital taboo. While some digital platforms allow discussion of CBD, others shy away from it. Likewise, some social media platforms avoid supporting any CBD ads. Other social media platforms will allow some CBD advertising.

Photo of a marijuana flower with overlaid header text: “A Handy Guide to CBD Advertising.”

It’s a thorny, difficult world to navigate, but it’s an essential journey for any budding CBD brand. If you want to succeed, you have to find a way to stand out from the massive crowd. You need to have a way to market your product.

Having worked with countless different businesses, I know a thing or two about marketing. I know how CBD advertising restrictions impact the industry’s ability to reach new customers. Likewise, I know about ways to overcome this roadblock.

If you’re ready to learn more about how your CBD business can amplify its impact through smart marketing, then this blog post is the place to be!

Stick around as I dig into the world CBD advertising.

A shareable infographic featuring text overlaid on a photo of hemp leaves. The header is, “CBD Advertising: Did You Know?” Below this is smaller body text: “In 2021, CBD businesses accounted for a massive $12.8 billion market share. This amazing business boom is only going to continue. In 2018, 10% of US adults reported using CBD.” The source is listed in small text: “‘Cannabidiol Market Statistics: Global Trends – 2028.’ Global Market Insights, Inc. (2022, April.)”

(And don’t forget to check out all of my other posts, which cover topics such as using SMS marketing and running successful direct mail campaigns.)

The Difficulties of Advertising CBD Products

I’ll be perfectly honest: advertising CBD products is hard! You have to comply with international laws, federal regulations, and local laws.

Every marketing campaign that a CBD company runs will be scrutinized by up to three layers of moderation. On the most basic level, a brand’s marketing efforts must adhere to federal legislation. It will then need to comply with local laws. Finally, the CBD campaign will need to be approved by its chosen marketing channel.

Marijuana leaves with overlaid header text: “The Difficulties of Advertising CBD Products.”

Most social media platforms restrict or ban the sale of drug paraphernalia, which tends to include any hemp products. Moreover, every social media platform has its own way of moderating its paid ads. For example, Facebook crawlers automatically screen ads and censor anything that contains the word “CBD”.

This means that CBD companies have fairly limited advertising options, but there are ways to reach your audience!

Know Your Federal CBD Advertising Laws

I’ll start with the highest level of the legal food chain: the federal government.

A photo of a courtroom with overlaid text: “Know Your Federal CBD Advertising Laws.”

Regardless of what you’re selling, you never want to end up on the federal radar. When you’re a CBD company, you definitely don’t want to draw federal ire.

If you want to do display advertising for your CBD brand, then your first step is learning the federal regulations for the CBD market.

These laws are essential, but they can also be a bit confusing, so bear with me!

Working in the CBD Industry

One of the first things you’ll want to know is that all CBD products must be made with legally licensed hemp plants. While I’m sure everyone is aware of this point, it’s worth reiterating.

This means that marijuana-derived CBD is still illegal on a federal level. States with provisions for recreational marijuana use are technically acting outside of the federal scope. (Confusing, right?)

All marijuana-derived CBD is the sole responsibility of the producer and buyer. Transporting or even advertising these products outside of the appropriate state is not a federally protective activity. Moreover, most states require pre-approval for CBD companies, and that right to advertise doesn’t carry over into other markets.

CBD Brands Are Regulated by the FDA

The legal technicalities don’t end there!

A colorized photo of a hemp bud with overlaid text. The header reads, “CBD Advertising: Federal Laws.” Below this is smaller body text, which reads, “All CBD sales are overseen by the Food and Drug Administration. This means that there are a few key laws that CBD marketers must follow. These laws…” This is followed by a list, which is written in smaller text. The list is as follows: “Bans making medical claims, bans the sale of edibles, bans selling CBD as dietary supplements, and regulates which hemp plants can be used.”

Right now, the Food and Drug Administration is responsible for regulating CBD. This means that companies must comply with the FDA’s legal requirements if they want to advertise CBD products. These requirements include provisions that:

  • Allow hemp-based topical products
  • Ban making any medical claims
  • Ban the sale of any edible products that contain marijuana, THC, or CBD
  • Ban the use of CBD or marijuana as dietary supplements
  • Heavily regulate any mentions of potential medical benefits

Age Requirements for CBD Content

On a technical level, CBD’s legal status remains fairly murky. While legally licensed CBD is legal on a national level, marijuana and THC remain illegal drugs in the eyes of the federal government.

Because of this, all CBD companies are responsible for ensuring that their CBD content is only available to individuals above the age of 21. Generally, this verification is done via a simple check box. However, stricter CBD brands may opt to have a more involved process.

Private Advertising Rules to Know as a CBD Brand

All of those technicalities make CBD legality a horrendously confusing issue.

To protect themselves from federal scrutiny, many major advertisers opt to restrict or outright ban CBD ads. This also prevents social media platforms and other advertisement providers — such as Google ads — from breaking conflicting local laws and international laws. All of this is to say that one brand may offer support for your CBD brand’s advertising, but other platforms will reject the same content.

Photo of a no entry sign with overlaid header text: “Private Advertising Rules to Know as a CBD Brand.”

If you plan to run campaigns for your CBD brand, then your best bet will be using what are known as “frictionless channels”, which include email marketing and podcasts. These advertising platforms are — for one reason or another — less able to regulate and ban different types of content. This ultimately means that they are prime target locations for running ads.

A shareable infographic featuring text over a colorized photo of a farmer. The header text reads: “CBD Advertising: Which Platforms Allow It?” Below this is smaller body text: “The following platforms are open to tightly controlled CBD advertising”. This is followed by a four-point list: “Snapchat, Some email service providers, Twitter, and Various adult-oriented websites.”

However, before I outline these handy ways to advertise CBD products, I want to briefly review the policies of some major digital platforms.

Amazon’s Stance on CBD Products

Selling your CBD products on Amazon may seem like a no-brainer, right? It’s one of the biggest ecommerce marketplaces, and it’s always busy. Surely, your business will be booming once you set up your Amazon page!

Unfortunately, I have some bad news for you…

Amazon bans the sale of any CBD products. By extension, it also prohibits the sale of marijuana and THC.

While you can find some CBD brands on the platform, these companies are engaging in what is known as “account burning”. They spend big on their marketing budget and continually dodge Amazon’s filters by creating new accounts once the old ones are shut down. This is not a good business strategy. It is, however, a wonderful way to paint a massive Amazon-branded target on your back.

Can You Advertise CBD on Facebook and Instagram?

Thanks to its growth and rebranding as Meta, Facebook is one of the dominant forces in the social media industry. This means that it has plenty of power, and its corporate policies apply to two of the largest platforms on the internet: Facebook and Instagram.

Neither of these platforms are the best place to run your ad campaigns. However, on a technical level, you can advertise CBD on them.

As of 2022, both of these platforms consider CBD to be drug paraphernalia. This means that, while it may be allowed, CBD advertising is severely restricted. It is true that these marketing channels will give your CBD brand plenty of exposure, but customers won’t actually know what they’re buying.

This is because both Facebook and Instagram share the same rules for advertising CBD products, namely:

  • Edible products are not allowed. This effectively bars gummies from advertising on either of these platforms. It also means that Meta conforms with the FDA’s ban on promoting CBD as a dietary supplement.
  • The word “CBD” cannot be mentioned at all. This means that any CBD company advertising through Meta must remove this word from its URL, landing page, and product descriptions.

Can You Advertise CBD on Google Ads?

Here’s one of the biggest problems for a CBD marketer.

A shareable infographic. Text overlays a colorized unfocused photo of the Google logo. The header is, “Advertising CBD Products: Google Ads.” Below this are two paragraphs of smaller body text. The first paragraph is in bold black font: “Google does not allow any CBD advertisements.” A line below this is the second paragraph, which reads, “While you can hire a marketing agency to help you bypass Google's rules, you won't get many solid leads. The platform bans any ads that mention CBD, THC, and/or medical marijuana.”

Google does not allow CBD brands to advertise with its Google Ads platform. This includes AdWords. As such, brands will have to search elsewhere for pay-per-click ad placement.

Like Amazon, there are still plenty of brands that skirt the brand’s rules. By hiring a CBD agency, some companies will sneak ads onto the platform. However, like Facebook ads, these promotional messages are confusing to viewers. They cannot mention CBD, and often rely on vague language to meet approval requirements.

Can You Advertise CBD on Snapchat?

It may seem like an odd place to be marketing CBD, but Snapchat is actually a prime target for your brand’s marketing efforts.

Snapchat allows CBD product ads, although the platform has a few key caveats. If you plan on using this platform for your ad campaigns, then you must:

  • Avoid “glamorizing” the product by showing smiling CBD users
  • Avoid mentioning or quoting reviews or effects
  • Avoid selling gummies or edible products
  • Limit your advertisements to users who are 21 years old or older

While this may seem restrictive, these regulations are some of the best! Considering the near-blanket ban that most social platforms have on CBD, Snapchat is as close to digital paradise as CBD marketers can get.

Does Twitter Allow CBD Ads?

Another good place to market your CBD products is Twitter. Like Snapchat, the little blue bird has a few provisions in place to make sure its ads comply with both federal and local laws. These rules make Twitter a bit more difficult to tap into, but the potential reach is massive.

Twitter only allows pre-approved CBD marketers to advertise on its platform. These brands are required to submit legal documents to prove their local legality and company status. Once this information is verified, a CBD brand will be allowed to run ads on Twitter. However, CBD companies will also have to follow a few more rules once they’ve been approved.

A shareable infographic with text over a colorized photo of a phone with Twitter opened. The header is, “Advertising CBD: Twitter.” Below this is smaller body text, which says, “Twitter is one of the few platforms that allow CBD advertising. However, the platform has a few rules that advertisers need to follow…” Below this is a list: “All accounts must be pre-approved. Ads for edible CBD products are banned. Mentioning medical effects is banned. The target audience must be 21 or older.”

If you plan on advertising CBD products on Twitter, then you should know that the platform:

  • Bans advertisements for users in Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Virginia.
  • Bans advertising CBD products to users under the age of 21.
  • Bans the sale of edible products. This includes gummies and dietary supplements. And — as a reminder — the latter is illegal.

Frictionless Channels for Your CBD Advertising

So, with all of these barriers, how does a brand make its CBD products known?

Well, there’s always direct mail marketing. You can send physical newsletters and hand out samples in appropriate places. Both of these strategies are perfectly valid, and there are more than a few CBD brands that began by using these tried-and-true marketing methods.

A photo of an indoor hemp farm with overlaid header text, which reads, “Frictionless Channels for Your CBD Marketing.”

However, if you want to truly amplify your brand’s reach, you need to have a solid digital strategy.

It may seem like there’s nowhere for your digital marketing to go, but that’s far from the truth. There are a few different marketing channels that welcome individuals marketing CBD, and these are known as “frictionless” channels.

In general, these advertising outlets are fairly large and lack a singular entity to control them. This decentralized structure makes them the perfect place for many brands to promote their CBD products.

Attract Attention With Affiliate Marketing

Both affiliate marketing and — depending on the platform — influencer marketing are great sources of exposure for CBD brands.

Of course, finding a good affiliate marketing partner can be tricky. You’ll want to seek out someone who promotes your values and fits the brand’s image. You should also pay attention to your existing customers. By understanding who your current audience follows, you can easily extrapolate the best person to recruit to bring in new customers. Service Direct is a great example of affiliate marketing because they pay per lead. Setting up an affiliate structure where you pay high commissions or on a recurring basis is a great way to attract more affiliates.

Search Engine Optimization for Everyone

While you may not be able to promote your CBD products through your Google Ad account, you can absolutely goad the search engine into pushing your business to the top of its list.

A photo of the multicolored Google logo on top of a building.

This will, of course, require that your brand have its own website. You’ll also want to hire a professional to help you refine your search engine optimization without sacrificing your brand’s unique tone. Having an in-house graphic design team will boost this marketing effort even more with relevant images and descriptions.

Talking Up Your CBD Brand With Podcasts

One of the best ways to promote your brand’s CBD products is through podcasts. These talkative marketing tools can help you build an audience, and more developed brands can use them to boost brand loyalty.

If you’re going to start podcasting, take time to research the market. The CBD industry has a decent overlap with the herbal drugs community. As such, many smart CBD marketers will team up with holistic medicine podcasters to showcase their brand.

Email Marketing for Every CBD Product

Of the many frictionless channels, one stands above the rest…

Email marketing is one of the best ways to promote your CBD company. Aside from the proven efficacy of this tried-and-true marketing channel, a single email marketing campaign is a blank canvas. You can use emails to keep subscribers updated on cannabis news, inform customers of a new CBD product, and promote lifetime value boosters (such as subscriptions).

A photo of a keyboard with overlaid header text: “Email Marketing for Every CBD Product.”

Moreover, as long as you abide by federal laws and the 2018 Farm Bill, you can forget about worrying that you’ve included the wrong keywords. You can slap a straight up photo of a hemp plant onto your emails!

The Importance of a Professional

If you’re going to start running email-based CBD campaigns, then you need to hire an expert. A team of email marketing specialists — like the ones you’ll find at The Email Marketers — will help you adhere to all relevant laws and regulations while boosting your brand’s growth.

Don’t be afraid to reach out for help! I’m not just here to wrote blog posts! I also offer expert counseling and advice. One phone call can change the trajectory of your CBD company. Let me help you, and let’s see what we can do together!