Learning how to advertise CBD on Google can be daunting, but there are guidelines that will help you create compliant and engaging promotional content. If your company sells cannabidiol (CBD) products, one of your biggest pain points might be worrying about how to advertise CBD on Google.
The CBD industry is relatively new, and strict regulations apply to marketing hemp-derived products. It can be extremely challenging to obtain content approved for Google Ads. CBD brands face stricter regulations than other businesses. This article will cover some key processes and terms that will help you understand how to advertise CBD on Google.
What is CBD, and If it is Legal, Why Are CBD Ads So Closely Scrutinized?
CBD is one of the most abundant cannabinoid compounds. It does not cause a psychoactive effect like the other major compound tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC and CBD are both extracted from the cannabis plant, and regulation has often taken a blanket approach to regulate all cannabinoids in an effort to restrict access to THC. This effort is mainly to restrict access to THC’s psychoactive effects. As a result, policymakers started to create more distinct policies applying to various cannabinoids including CBD. As scientists discover new cannabinoids, marketing regulations will also evolve.
What is Google Ads?
Google Ads can be described as Google’s advertising system that allows companies to promote advertisements for common search keywords in Google. This system is auction-based, so businesses set a bid to outdo competitors. Many ads function as cost-per-click, so the business pays the bidding amount of dollars per click.
Why Does Google Ban CBD Ads?
Google considers some ads as promoting dangerous substances and will ban ads that seem especially questionable. Google’s stance on CBD is based on its general response to illicit substances. Although there is a significant body of medical research indicating CBD is generally safe and well tolerated, regulations on CBD advertising are stringent and based on cannabis policy.
Many states are refining their CBD policies so that they are distinctive and reflective of CBD marketing needs. This process means redefining regulations carried over from restricting access, sales, and use of cannabis. As policies for hemp-derived and cannabis-derived products evolve and policymakers revise regulations, it should become easier to advertise on Google Ads in the future.
Google Ads CBD Policy
Updates to the Dangerous Products and Services and Healthcare and Medicines Google Ads policies in January 2023 allowed for the promotion of FDA-approved pharmaceuticals containing cannabidiol (CBD) and hemp-derived CBD topical products in California, Colorado, and Puerto Rico. These products must contain no more than the legal limit of .3% THC content. This change means CBD will be removed from the Unapproved Pharmaceuticals and Supplements list. All ads promoting other CBD-based products such as inhalants, supplements, and food additives will not be allowed.
Another key policy change relates to certification. Google published a form in January 2023 about requesting certification. CBD companies that are certified by LegitScript and FDA-approved pharmaceuticals containing CBD must also be certified by Google as a requirement for advertising. Advertisers can request certification with Google. This change was effective starting as of January 20, 2023.
What is LegitScript?
LegitScript is a program that screens CBD advertisers and confirms the eligibility of CBD products and websites. The advantage of the certification is that it helps distinguish the top-tier practices used by certified businesses from many other businesses in the CBD industry. It indicates that a CBD business operator functions safely and effectively according to industry standards.
Some benefits of LegitScript include increased credibility. Legitscript certification demonstrates reliability and high standards, and customers can see your business is thoroughly compliant with state and local regulations. It can make the difference in persuading a customer to purchase your CBD product over others.
Google Ads potentially increases advertising reach and impact. Businesses can market products on Google and increase brand awareness.
What Kind of Content Should I Not Include in a CBD Ad?
CBD retailers should have greater success with ad approval success if they know what to avoid. It may seem apparent what should and should not be mentioned, but there can be subtle points to approvable content. It is helpful for businesses to know exactly what might attract scrutiny.
Here are some ad content examples that Google sees as immediate red flags:
- Content about producing, purchasing, or consuming substances for recreational use.
- Psychoactive substances such as THC, heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine.
- Accessories, products, or services associated with recreational drug use (grinders, bongs, vaporizers, etc.)
These three points are mainly in reference to substances that produce a psychoactive effect. A majority of the general public may be aware that CBD will not get you high, but it is still important to avoid any claims that CBD’s effect on mood. This is a tricky area because many research studies have shown that CBD effectively reduces symptoms associated with anxiety, depression, and irritability. Careful wording and clear citations of research study findings may help avoid being flagged for health claims, but many businesses prefer to be overly cautious and skip all health claims.
There are many companies that suggest the potential therapeutic benefits of CBD products, yet they make claims without any credible medical research. Ads need to reflect carefully word summaries of research studies when emphasizing that CBD is a safe and effective medicinal alternative. The FDA will quickly send out notification letters that a company is in violation.
It is helpful to create a company style guide that lists what cannot be included in ads as well as preferred language and images that maintain compliance and still promote strong brand awareness. References to state specific regulations are important to include for your company’s copywriting team.
Steps to Take after Google Ads Denies or Approve CBD Content
It is important to have a backup plan if Google denies your ads. If the ad is not approved, build a gated landing page for a promotional campaign. A gated landing page requires visitors to enter their contact information before they can access resources such as business contact information, downloadable content, and photos. Gated content is an effective lead-generation strategy. Omit any references to hemp and CBD. Another trick might be to remove any links to your website from your gated landing page. This may help avoid any potential content bans.
When ads are approved, it is good to plan how to proceed and replicate best practices in future promotional campaigns.
Business owners also offer a key step to take if Google approves your CBD ad. They advise waiting for several days before adding any links from your gated landing page to your website.
Other Strategies for CBD Advertising
While you wait for further developments that loosen restrictions on CBD marketing, there are some things you can do to promote product awareness among your target audience.
Review your current SEO and refresh content. It is important to spend time on this aspect of advertising even if it is time-consuming to draft and revise content. You should refresh the content on a regular basis for several reasons. It will help with customer engagement and positively influence rankings. In addition, hemp and CBD policies will continue to evolve. Providing current content is added value to your customers, so incorporate updates about the latest policy developments into the content.
An advantage of refreshing website copy is that there are fewer restrictions on SEO used on websites. You can describe products and their effects in great detail without using non-compliant words. Content marketing is one of the most effective ways to engage new and continuing customers. Posting up-to-date content on CBD products and related materials provides customers with educational value.
What CBD Advertisers Need to Know
For those newer business owners, it is important to keep the following tips in mind to avoid violating marketing regulations.
Consider the specific regulations affecting different kinds of CBD products.
Currently, only topical CBD products that have been certified by LegitScript can be promoted on Google in the United States. CBD products businesses must do two things in order to advertise CBD products. They must provide samples of their product to test that it only contains legal THC amounts. They also must provide LegitScript with a third-party Certificate of Analysis (COA). A COA indicates third-party lab testing results that show cannabinoid potency profiles and terpene profiles. COAs also indicate testing results for pollutants, contaminants, heavy metals, and other compounds.
Always avoid making unsubstantiated health claims.
Making health claims will increase scrutiny of your company and products. Get into a regular routine of reviewing and revising your ads for any content that might be questionable. Also, keep abreast of regulations pertaining to health claims as more research sheds light on the risks and benefits of CBD products and their impacts on regulatory policy and practices. There will be more regulatory changes ahead that will redefine research and marketing policies and procedures.
Create a Google Ads account if you do not already have one.
Be ready and prepared by setting up accounts well before major promotional campaigns begin. Create a Google Ads account for advertising your company’s CBD products if you do not already have one. For new business operators, It is easy to set up an account, and the process helps you learn more about keywords, bids, quality score, ad rank, cost-per-click, and conversion.
Find Resources for Creating Effective and Compliant CBD Ads
Since CBD is a young industry the regulatory climate has been changing and will continue to change for many years. It is important to check regulations with every new content project or promotional campaign to ensure accuracy.
Spend time developing your landing page.
It plays a critical role in redirecting traffic to your website. It provides educational value to the customer about CBD products and it captures customer details. Landing pages can also be instrumental in elevating brand awareness and increasing SEO effectiveness.
Know the Steps and Requirements for Google Ads Certification
In order to apply for become certified to run CBD ads on Google, businesses must provide the following information:
- The company’s legal business information (both the legal business name and any “doing business as” (DBA) names)
- Up-to-date product information
- CBD product samples
You can access different certifications via the Skillshop Google Ads Certifications page. By setting up a Skillshop account, you have free access to the Google Ads certification assessments. Passing the product area assessment is required.
How Google Ads Certification Works
When you set up a Skillshop account, you get access to the free Google Ads certification assessments and related learning paths that you can use to study for the assessments.
To become Google Ads certified in a Google Ads product area, you need to pass the product area assessment that is available through Skillshop.
Avoid Creating CBD Ads that Violate Google Ads Guidelines
- Avoid making unsubstantiated health claims. There is not enough research yet to make claims about how CBD can cure or treat health conditions. Cannabis prohibition has hindered research efforts. CBD research activity is increasing thanks to regulatory changes, so it is important to monitor policies affecting advertising practices as we learn more about the risks and benefits of CBD.
- Carefully craft promotional language and avoid trigger words such as CBD, hemp, and cannabis. Sometimes phrases like plant medicine, and pure plant-based remedies, and other wellness related terminology might be more acceptable to Google Ads.
It is effective to advertise CBD products, but the downside is that CBD ads approved on Google always run the risk of being flagged.
Final Advice on CBD Advertising
Industry experts anticipate continued growth of CBD and future CBD marketing policy changes, so it is important to plan and respond to different stages of policy implementation. Businesses should anticipate and respond to marketing regulatory changes, and it is important to check each media platform for their specific requirements.
Want to Learn More about Advertising CBD on Google Ads?
If you would like more resources on CBD advertising, please contact us. Client Verge would love to help you with effective Google Ads tips and resources. We would love to help you develop successful advertising strategies.
Frequently Asked Questions about CBD Google Ads
Can You Advertise CBD on Google Ads?
Keep in mind that the recent update only allows business in California, Colorado, and Puerto Rico. This policy change allows approved businesses to advertise two types of CBD products: CBD topical products or those derived from hemp.
Can You Run CBD Ads on Google Ads?
Businesses that have been certified by LegitScript are approved to run compliant CBD ads on Google Ads. Google Ads involved the automated buying and selling of online ad space using programmatic advertising technology.
What Kinds of Formats Does the Google Ads Policy Allow?
Google Ads does not allow the use of certain formats. These formats include YouTube Masthead which is a digital billboard posted on the YouTube homepage. These postings are usually live for a 24-hour period.
What are Some Common Limitations?
Some limitations have to do with compliance regarding age-restricted ads. For example, Google will not display CBD products to target audience members who are under the age of 18.
Other common limitations pertain to making unsubstantiated claims about product effectiveness and quality.
What are some Effective Strategies for Advertising CBD on Google?
Invest time and energy in creating effective ad copy. Ad copy should avoid any words that catch the attention of reviewers. You should avoid using keywords related to CBD. Make sure creative images do not have the acronym CBD in them. Images should not portray any images or words related to hemp and CBD.
You can also check the source code for more thorough prevention of any bans or disabled ads. Google algorithms crawl source code scanning for CBD or CBD related If the search turns up any non-compliant keywords, your ad will be disapproved.
Why Was Google Hesitant to Advertise CBD Ads Before this Policy Change?
Google was concerned about CBD’s complicated and confusing legal status. Many states have designated CBD as a legal supplement over the past few years. Its association with cannabis and its federally illegal classification have influenced Ads reluctance to embrace CBD advertising earlier.
Where Can a Business Advertise Their CBD Products?
Taboola, Outbrain, and Healthy Ads are some of the most popular digital content platforms that publish CBD product advertisements that conventional platforms usually prohibit. They support content discovery and content marketing tools available to advertise CBD products, and they allow publishers to place links to articles and videos on other websites in an attempt to route traffic back to their sites. Taboola is an advertising platform that allows you to share content across various websites and track customer engagement. Outbrain creates customized product recommendations for customers.
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