How cannabis should be advertised has burdened regulators since states began legalizing medical and adult-use marijuana. Some states have created stiff regulations and then stuck to their guns, refusing to budge. Others have haphazardly created and applied advertising regulations only to change them up a few months or years later. This has put dispensaries in a tough spot as they try to reach interested consumers while still abiding by regulations.
Now, California has nixed certain cannabis billboard advertising, taking away one of the most popular ways to reach consumers. What should CA dispensaries do, and should other states be prepared for similar blows?
Cannabis Billboard Advertising
If you drive down a highway in a state where medical or adult-use cannabis is allowed, you’ll probably come across cannabis billboard advertising at some point. It’s a relatively inexpensive way to reach a large number of people. Unfortunately, it’s not a very targeted way to get your message out there. There are plenty of people driving by that aren’t of age or who aren’t interested in trying cannabis. But at least it was allowed.
Now, a CA judge has ruled that dispenaries cannot advertise on interstate highways. While in-state highways and roadways are fine for billboards, those that cross state borders are now completely off-limits. Billboard owners have already been notified to remove such signs. Previously, Prob 64 was interpreted as prohibiting signs within a 15-mile radius of a state border, so this is a large scale expansion of that interpretation.
The issue here is two-fold. Billboards easily reach and advertise to individuals who are under age. There’s no way to limit who billboards reach. That lack of targeting puts them at odds with plenty of cannabis advertising regulations. Billboards also entice residents of other states to cross the border with cannabis, which remains federally illegal.
Will other states follow suit? Probably. As an early adopter of medical cannabis, CA has helped set the bar in many ways. It is likely that similar legislation or lawsuits will occur in other states so dispensaries should be prepared to advertise in other ways.
So what can dispensaries do to reach more customers in a compliant way?
Alternatives to Cannabis Billboard Advertising
There are at least two big problems with cannabis billboard advertising: you can’t target customers and you can’t measure the effectiveness of your campaign.
Being able to implement targeted advertising that can be tracked for effectiveness is crucial for making the most of your advertising budget. We’re big believers in revenue attribution and want dispensaries to be able to see the results of their efforts.
Dispensary Direct Mail Campaign
If you need to increase brand awareness, a direct mail campaign is a great way to find new customers and introduce them to your dispensary.
In states where direct mail campaigns are permitted, you must ensure that the majority of your recipients are 21 and over. You can buy targeted mailing lists of adults 21 and over in particular neighborhoods that are close to your dispensary or that are part of your delivery area. We recently did a webinar about this, so be sure to check it out.
Mobile Banner Ads
You know the ads that show up when you’re browsing a site on your phone or in an app? Those are mobile banner ads, and they’re a great way for dispensaries to advertise to individuals who are already interested in cannabis.
With mobile banner ads, you can create targeted campaigns based on location, time, and consumer behavior. We have a network of over 3,000 cannabis-friendly sites and apps that allow dispensary advertising. Mobile banner ads aren’t an option for all dispensaries as some states do regulate digital ads, however, they are allowed in most states.
Dispensaries can advertise on Google—and most aren’t. That means that you can score relevant keywords for less and jump to the top of search results quickly.
Google Ads can help you improve your visibility and keep you top of mind when someone searches for your keywords. Learn more about Google Ads can help get you more sales with this webinar.
If you’re ready to explore more ways to reach your target audience, schedule a call with Eduardo today and get ready to boost your sales.