Over the past few years, governments have relaxed and reformed their policies on cannabis and related drugs. In 2018, the U.S. federally legalized CBD if it comes from hemp, and although it’s still outlawed within our borders, the legalization of CBD has brought a legal (and profitable) market of new products to much of the US.
The market for CBD hit a new high in 2022, with almost $2 billion in sales.
CBD products seem to be everywhere, but one place you haven’t been able to find them is the Google SERP. That is set to change soon though, as Google announced that it would begin allowing ads for some CBD products later this month.
Read on to learn what’s changing and what you need to do to begin advertising CBD products on Google.
Google has historically had strict policies prohibiting advertising for any kind of CBD products, even as they’ve become legal and FDA-approved. But Google announced that starting January 20, 2023, it will relax some of these long-standing rules and provide a path for advertisers to market some CBD products on its network.
While this is good news for those in cannabis marketing, not all CBD products are allowed, and qualified advertisers will need to be certified by LegitScript before they can run ads on Google.
Although it’s removing CBD from its long list of unapproved pharmaceuticals and supplements, that doesn’t mean that your local dispensary will be able to start promoting its wares. In fact, most products are still restricted. Starting on January 20, Google will begin to allow advertisers to promote CBD products that meet both the following criteria:
Additionally, the new policies only allow ads on Google within California, Colorado, and Puerto Rico. CBD Ads will not show to users identified as under the age of 18.
Google will continue to disallow advertising for all other CBD products, including supplements, food additives, and inhalants. These products—as well as many other legal recreational products and tobacco—are prohibited under Google’s Dangerous products or services policies.
Before starting on Google Ads for CBD, you must first complete certification with LegitScript. Google has previously partnered with LegitScript to vet and certify advertisers to run ads for addiction treatment services and other medical & pharmaceutical products.
To get certified to run CBD Ads on Google, first apply via LegitScript. This certification process is designed to ensure that all of Google’s CBD ads are from safe, legal, and trusted partners.
In the application to get certified to run CBD ads on Google, be prepared to provide:
The process to get certified to run CBD ads may take some time with LegitScript and their laboratory partners. Applicants will be reviewed in the order they were received. LegitScript includes some tips to expedite the CBD certification process and avoid unnecessary delays here.
Getting certified to run CBD ads on Google isn’t free, unfortunately. LegitScript prices its CBD certification for advertisers both per-product and per-website. Advertisers must first pay a nonrefundable application fee before they potentially begin advertising on Google. If approved, advertisers then pay an annual fee per product and website every year.
Websites can apply to get verified for an $800 application fee and an additional annual fee of $1,600 once approved. Some websites with a past history of significant compliance issues may be approved on a probationary basis. These probationary websites must demonstrate that they are currently in compliance and meet LegitScript’s certification standards. Probationary websites have a higher annual fee of $2,250 in addition to the $800 application fee.
CBD products must also be certified by LegitScript before they can be advertised. The costs for certifying CBD products vary by the catalog size.
|Number of CBD Products||Nonrefundable Application Fee per Product||Annual Monitoring Fee per Product|
|1 – 5||$650||$1,000|
|51 – 99||$550||$850|
At the start of their program, LegitScript is waiving its application fees for CBD certifications through March 31, 2023, potentially saving advertisers thousands of dollars. When checking out on LegitScript’s website, use the promo code CBDPRODapp to waive the CBD product certification application fee and the promo code CBDWEBapp to waive the CBD website certification application fee.
Google’s new plans to allow CBD ads is a welcome change to a new growing legal industry. Although its new policy may not allow advertising for all CBD products and LegitScript’s certification will costs these new advertisers thousands of dollars a year, the value of advertising on Google is clearly worth it for many new advertisers.
If you need help getting started with Google Ads, check out our Google Ads tutorial and don’t miss these cannabis marketing tips.
Mark is the Director of PPC at SearchLab Digital. Previously, Mark worked at WordStream and was named the Most Influential PPC Expert of the Year by both PPC and Microsoft.
See other posts by Mark Irvine
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