Businesses part of the thriving cannabis industry still struggle when it comes to marketing their goods. This is simply because the largest search engine in the world is not a friendly place for medical marijuana or anything to do with cannabis, for that matter.
Running a simple Google ad for a medical marijuana business or any ancillary business dealing in pipes, bongs, rolling paper, etc. is far from simple. For the most part and for a large portion of the cannabis industry, advertising on Google is simply not an option.
At least, not in the way they’re used to.
Even though marijuana laws have evolved over the years and have become somewhat flexible, Google Ads (formerly Google Adwords) policies have not changed much. This begs the question – is it even possible to run medical marijuana ads on Google?
The answer is a bit tricky, maybe even surprising.
Is Cannabis Marketing Through Google Ads Allowed?
Put simply, NO.
Google does not permit ads that promote the use or sale of cannabis. This even covers informational content about cannabis.
And if you’re wondering whether there’s a distinction between recreational or medicinal cannabis, the answer is still no. Google treats all cannabis advertising equally.
Google’s advertising policy clearly states that any substance altering the mental state or inducing ‘highs’ cannot be advertised:
This policy applied to both Google Search and Display ads.
What is the Penalty for Violating Google’s Advertising Policy?
If you still try to skirt the law and are caught by Google advertising cannabis, your ad will be banned and removed. Any cannabis related keywords used in your ad copy or landing page will trigger Google’s policy instantly.
What if you try to run a new ad after some tweaking and are caught again? Well, this time Google will probably ban your account altogether and blacklist the URL of the website linked to the banned ad.
This course of action will play out irrespective of whether the ad in question is for promoting recreational marijuana or medical cannabis.
You do have the option of appealing an ad ban or an account suspension but a reinstatement only happens in the case of an honest mistake.
How, then, do cannabis businesses market their products on Google? There are many cannabis ads freely present in Google search results. What’s the loophole?
What goes into getting an ad approved?
Before we get into how you can get around Google’s cannabis advertising restrictions, you need to know what exactly is involved in Google approving or rejecting any ad, not just one for cannabis.
Ad Copy, Landing Page, Keywords
While analyzing any ad submitted to Google Ads, Google looks at its three major components:
Your ad copy is the actual text or graphic you use in your search or display ad and is the user-facing component of your promotion.
The landing page is the destination a user lands on after clicking on your ad. It is usually a webpage and contains the content for which you want to generate website traffic.
And finally, the bidding keywords are the words or phrases you target when launching your ad.
For a cannabis business, advertisers cannot use words like cannabis, marijuana, weed, ganja, pipes, rolling paper, etc. in either the ad copy or the landing page, as this will lead to obvious rejection of the ad.
When it comes to keyword targeting, this is where cannabis advertisers see a ray of hope. Strategically managing keyword bidding is what makes cannabis marketing possible on Google.
Is it Possible to Promote a Cannabis Business Through Google Ads?
This is where we can finally say – YES, it’s possible.
As discussed above, you simply cannot use any marijuana or cannabis-related words or phrases in your ad copy and landing page. But what you can do is use marijuana-related keywords when bidding.
Wordplay Goes a Long Way
Google doesn’t scan the keywords you’re bidding for when analyzing your ads. That’s limited only to your ad copy and your landing page. Hence, without triggering Google’s advertising policy with cannabis keywords, you can freely bid for and rank for them.
This is how you get around the restrictions and run a successful cannabis ad through Google Ads.
Verdict: Is The Cost of SEO Worth It?
Suppose you are looking to implement a marketing strategy for your business. In that case, SEO can be the ideal process for attracting organic traffic to your website, increasing your brand visibility on the internet, and ranking your web pages on the search result pages. Whether you have a new website or you are running an old website, search engine optimization is important for getting favorable results.
Despite SEO being so expensive, it can be a perfect way to generate leads and sales. SEO takes care of your website and helps you stay ahead of the competition. With effective SEO practices, whenever a person searches a term on Google that is related to your business, your webpage lists on the top results of Google. This way, your online presence increases, and your sales increase.
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If you want to advertise marijuana with a google ad, try to carefully put together an ad copy and a landing page that doesn’t contain any of the trigger words related to marijuana. You can then bid for marijuana-related keywords and get ranked for them in Google’s search results.
To be perfectly clear, we’re not actively encouraging you to get around Google’s ad restrictions. In fact, this guide is intended to help you promote legitimate medical cannabis companies promote their products and services through the world’s largest search engine.
How to Run Cannabis Industry Google Ads?
Now that you know the loophole you can use to unlock cannabis marketing and run Google ads for your marijuana or cannabis products, you need to ensure you’re using every tool at your disposal.
Optimize Your Ads
Managing your medical marijuana ads is an ongoing process. You need to be on your toes constantly tracking your ad performance and ad spend.
Maybe your ads are plagued with under-performing landing pages or badly-optimized ad copy. Or maybe you’re not bidding for the right keywords.
You can gain valuable insights like these with Google Analytics that can help you refine and increase your medical cannabis ads and grow your cannabis brand.
Choosing the Right Partner
If you’re one of the cannabis brands too busy to manage an entire Google Ads program, partnering with the right agency will do wonders for your business.
Cannabis advertising is both an art and a science which benefits greatly from years of expertise and experience working with small and large businesses. Turnkey Mate can help you run a customized medical marijuana PPC campaign to increase conversions and revenue.
Not only on Google, but you can also benefit from advertising cannabis on Facebook, with Turnkey Mate’s advanced Facebook Pixel ad strategies.
Marijuana Laws Have Changed; Will Google Change Its Policies?
Although marijuana laws have evolved a lot from just a few years ago, Google, and even Facebook, have yet to change their policies when it comes to cannabis marketing.
The cannabis industry has struggled with federal laws, platform regulations, and just plain-old taboo. So what does the future hold? Is Google likely to change its stance on marijuana ads?
No one can say for sure but there are a few things that need to happen for Google to relax its restrictions.
Firstly, marijuana will have to be legalized federally by the USA.
Secondly, there needs to be a push from investors and tech evangelists to push the government to exclude recreational and medicinal marijuana from the cannabis advertising restrictions currently in place.
Only the future can tell what Google Ads holds for your cannabis business.
But, for now, are there any other ways for marijuana marketing other than Google Ads?
How to Advertise Medical Marijuana without Google Ads?
Google owns the biggest piece of the online advertising pie. And with the way it’s going, there seems to be no stopping it. So, are there any other ways you can use to advertise your marijuana products?
Purchase Banner Ad Space Directly
You can always decide to bypass the Google Ads network and approach a website directly, buying banner ad space from them. You can then run display ads on these select websites with no involvement from Google.
This enables you to be much more creative in your ad copies and landing pages as you’re no longer shackled by Google’s advertising policy.
The other alternative you have to promote and grow your website, and consequently, your business, is to use organic marketing techniques like SEO, content marketing, social media marketing, and public relations.
Organic marketing is powerful in the sense that it brings organic traffic to your website as a result of valuable and informational content delivered by you. It’s a validation of the fact that if you publish relevant and engaging content about your product or business, people will notice.
This holds true for marijuana businesses as well. Moreover, the better you are at SEO practices and content marketing, the better your data repository becomes with Google or Facebook.
When Google and Facebook’s ad policies finally change, you’ll have accumulated a veritable data repository with the platforms, which will inevitably benefit the performance of your ads and lower your CPC rates of your future ads.
Marijuana advertising will likely go through tons of changes as legal and societal trends evolve. What your business needs to perfect is making the best out of the current situation.
Advertising your cannabis products on Google might be tricky but it’s not impossible.
With a few strategic techniques, ad-free alternatives, and getting outside help, you can easily craft and run high-performing and legal marijuana ads.