Marketers in the CBD space are all too aware of the obstacles in promoting online. Negotiating the complex web of social media regulations according to the various platforms is not easy due to the ambiguous perception of CBD that still persists in certain quarters.
Although CBD has become mainstream, Facebook, Google, Pinterest and Instagram, in particular, have, through a cautious approach, checked what could be much greater growth and awareness.
Recently, and following a threatened lawsuit, Facebook has shown itself to be willing to budge ever so slightly on its long-held hardline stance.
Facebook – strict yet confusing
There had been some confusion about what exactly Facebook wanted from CBD purveyors if anything at all.
The social giant had banned advertising for CBD or ingestible hemp even though those products were not specifically mentioned in Facebook’s advertising policies.
That apparent discrepancy caused confusion and frustration in equal measures and was the source of a lawsuit against the company for deceptive ad practices.
Digiday website reports that Facebook has now relaxed its outright ban on CBD products, although whether that move was informed by legal progress or business lobbying pressure is unknown.
Advertisers are now allowed to run adverts for topical hemp across Facebook. Advertisers can run ads that direct to landing pages that feature ingestible hemp and topical CBD.
However, the ads still cannot specifically feature those products. Facebook is still prohibiting ads for ingestible CBD, including ads that direct to landing pages with those products.
So just to clarify that further you can advertise CBD topicals on Facebook and those can direct to landing pages where ingestible hemp features. But you still cannot advertise those hemp products explicitly on the site nor have them directed to a landing page with that product.
“Our policy remains the same: We don’t allow people to promote CBD or ingestible hemp on Facebook. The update to non-ingestible hemp was made months ago,” a Facebook spokesperson emailed.
Winds of change
Facebook’s change comes as the business of CBD is rapidly growing and U.S. states are individually trying to regulate the market. Meanwhile, the platforms are each addressing CBD ads differently. Google, for example, is testing allowing ads for topical products as long as they don’t say CBD, according to Morning Consult.
The pressure for Facebook and other platforms to change their ways has been increasing, said Andrew Hemmingway, president of Toasted Collective, a digital agency focused on cannabis clients.
“Facebook more than ever is having more and more of their reps saying they need placement so they’re going to be forced to clarify. A lot of these companies are selling hemp-derived and primarily they’re selling creams, rubs, patches, but Facebook had been staying completely away from it,” Hemmingway said.
Adding to the confusion, Facebook often makes mistakes with flagging ads, that would otherwise, on paper, meet the company’s policies and standards, perhaps indicating some confusion about CBD internally.
The policy change comes not only as CBD is growing but as it gains approval from drug stores and enters new categories like beauty brands and even the creation of pet care brands. With the change focused on topical hemp and CBD, the brands that offer oils, lotions, creams, salves, serums as well as makeup infused with CBD stand to benefit.
CBD brands went to SXSW this past March to educate consumers about CBD. For brands like Medterra, which is currently 60% direct-to-consumer in terms of how it sells its products, the ability to advertise on Facebook, where other direct-to-consumer brands have used digital advertising to break out, could be a game-changer.
CBD gummies search performance shows potential
The restrictions imposed on CBD are tantalising for sector interests. CBD Intel reported that “CBD gummies” was the third most searched food term on Google in 2018 so any sign that FB will further relax its advertising position should witness a stampede if that data holds true.
CBD continues to suffer from the fact that it is derived from cannabis, despite not being psychoactive. Despite the growing mainstream knowledge and goodwill afforded to CBD, there is still road left to travel before complete acceptance among social giants.n that the industry has some distance to travel before being fully accepted.
For now, companies are having to invest in increasing brand awareness through events, sponsorships and other ways to connect with customers. Finally, marketers can use CBD-friendly social platforms such as Mantis, Leafly, Traffic Roots, 420network and High Times.