Cannabis Programmatic Advertising: Maximize Reach and ROI


Are you struggling to advertise your marijuana or CBD products due to regulatory restrictions? Fear not! Cannabis programmatic advertising offers a targeted, data-driven solution for brands to maximize their reach. 

As the industry grows, advertising rules continue to make it hard for businesses to reach their ideal customers. 

Conventional advertising channels are often off-limits, and CBD and cannabis companies have to deal with a complicated web of rules and limits. 

But imagine getting your ads displayed across major digital sites like ESPN, Rolling Stone, USA Today, and countless others—all within the confines of the law!

With programmatic advertising, your cannabis brand can do just that.

With accurate targeting, data-driven insights, and real-time bidding, you can reach your ideal customers across different media, such as digital audio, display ads, connected TV advertising, and more.

But where do you even start?

Our guide to programmatic advertising for cannabis covers everything, from best practices to new techniques and things to think about for compliance. 

Whether you’re new to the field or a seasoned pro looking to improve your campaigns, this guide will give you the knowledge and tools you need to succeed in this highly regulated industry. 

Let’s get started!

olorful gummy bears infused with cannabis extract, featuring a prominent marijuana leaf symbolizing their infused nature.

Key Takeaways

  1. Cannabis programmatic advertising allows you to automate the buying and selling of ad inventory, use real-time data to target specific audiences, and optimize campaigns in real-time based on performance metrics.
  2. Cannabis programmatic advertising can be used across a wide range of media formats, including display ads, video ads, audio ads, mobile ads, and native ads.
  3. Cannabis and CBD businesses must be aware of legal restrictions and ensure that their campaigns comply with all applicable laws and regulations.
  4. Programmatic advertising is constantly evolving, and new approaches are emerging like voice search and digital out-of-home (DOOH) advertising.

Programmatic Advertising for Cannabis: What is it?

Cannabis programmatic advertising offers a way around traditional marketing challenges, like strict regulations and limited targeting options. It’s a digital advertising method that uses algorithms to automate the sale and purchase of ad space in real-time. 

In programmatic advertising, cannabis brands can use data to target specific audiences based on demographics, interests, behaviors, and more. 

You can choose from different types of ads, such as display ads, mobile ads, native ads, digital audio ads, and connected TV ads. 

With real-time reports and insights, you can also keep an eye on your campaigns and make data-driven decisions to get the most out of your ad spend.

Programmatic advertising for cannabis and CBD brands can be done through specialized platforms that understand the unique regulatory environment of the industry. 

These platforms help ensure that ads are compliant with local and national regulations. They also provide advanced targeting options to reach specific groups of consumers.

Cannabis programmatic advertising offers a powerful solution for marijuana and CBD brands looking to reach their target audiences in a highly regulated industry. 

By using data-driven insights and real-time bidding, programmatic advertising can help cannabis businesses and CBD brands get the most out of their reach and return on investment (ROI).

How Does Programmatic Advertising Work?

Wooden letter pieces form the word "Marijuana" alongside a vibrant green leaf.

Before you can start using programmatic advertising for your cannabis business, you need to know how it works.

Using artificial intelligence (AI) and real-time bidding (RTB), programmatic advertising allows you to automatically buy and show ads to specific audiences. 

It may seem complicated and confusing, but it’s a lot more prevalent in daily life than you think. In fact, you likely see hundreds of programmatic ads daily while scrolling through apps like news, games, and dating platforms.

Here’s a more detailed breakdown:

  • User visits a website or app: When a user visits a website or app, data about their behavior and interests is collected.
  • Advertiser places a bid: An advertiser places a bid for ad space based on specific targeting criteria, such as demographics, interests, and behaviors.
  • Ad exchange matches bids with ad space: An ad exchange uses complex algorithms to match the advertiser’s bid with available ad space.
  • Ad is displayed: If the advertiser’s bid wins the auction, their ad is displayed to the user in real-time.
  • Performance data is collected and analyzed: Data about the performance of the ad is collected and analyzed in real-time, allowing advertisers to make adjustments and optimize their campaigns for maximum impact.

To ensure your ads reach the right audience, programmatic advertising uses a process called targeting. Targeting collects information from different places, like cookies on a website, to make a profile of the ideal audience. 

This process ensures that your ads are displayed to users that fit within your ideal demographic, making your ad spend more efficient.

Why Choose Programmatic Ads for Cannabis and CBD Promotion?

CBD bottles displayed on a pink background with marijuana leaves.

When it comes to programmatic advertising for cannabis, this automated, data-driven approach can be especially helpful because the industry is so heavily regulated. 

It offers a compliant way to advertise across a vast network of over 70,000 online publishers. 

By targeting specific, compliant audiences with the right messaging, cannabis and CBD brands can reach their target market while staying on the right side of the law.

Here are some more compelling reasons to choose programmatic ads for your next cannabis advertising campaign:

Precise and Targeted Advertising

Programmatic advertising allows you to target your ideal audience with precision and scale. Programmatic audience segments can be based on demographic information, location, behavior, and other factors, ensuring that your ads reach the right people at the right time.


With programmatic advertising, you can set geofencing parameters, so your ads are only displayed to users in specific geographic locations. This is especially crucial for cannabis and CBD businesses, which are subject to strict regulations and must ensure ads are only seen by 21+ audiences.


Cannabis programmatic advertising is typically more cost-effective than traditional advertising methods like TV or print. You only pay for impressions or clicks that meet your targeting criteria, which means you can reduce waste and optimize your budget.


With programmatic advertising, you can easily scale your campaigns up or down to match your business needs. You can quickly adjust your advertising spend based on your marketing goals, so you always get the most out of your budget.

Real-Time Optimization

Programmatic advertising allows you to optimize campaigns in real-time. It gives you useful info and key performance indicators (KPIs) that you can track, like impressions, revenue, and return on ad spend (ROAS). Make adjustments on the fly to improve your campaign’s effectiveness and ROI.


Cannabis programmatic advertising is becoming more important as the advertising industry moves toward a future without cookies. With this technology, you don’t need cookies to target and track users, which means that you can continue to reach your audience even as the cookie landscape changes.

Cannabis Display Ads: Show Your Stuff

Programmatic display ads account for 91% of all digital display ad spend, which is expected to reach a total of $168.02 billion in 2023 alone. 

If you’re running any kind of display adverts your marijuana or CBD products, programmatic ad buying is pretty much non-negotiable.

Here are some best practices to leverage for success:

  • Use audience targeting: Use advanced, cannabis-specific audience targeting to your advantage based on specific factors to maximize the impact of your ads.
  • Leverage retargeting: Retargeting is a powerful tool that allows you to reach users who have already interacted with your website or ads. You can display tailored ads to users who have already shown an interest in your products or services.
  • Test and optimize: Cannabis programmatic advertising allows you to test and optimize your campaigns in real-time. Try different ad formats, creatives, and targeting options to improve your performance over time.
  • Use a reputable programmatic platform: Working with a credible, cannabis-specific programmatic platform can help ensure compliance with regulations and provide access to advanced targeting and optimization features.

By using programmatic ad buying for cannabis or CBD products, you can optimize your campaigns to get the most bang for your buck.

Cannabis Mobile Ads: On-the-Go Promos

Three women engaged in lively conversation over cups of coffee while sitting in front of a computer.

Banner ads rank second for global mobile advertising spend, after social media ads. It’s an integral part of any successful marketing strategy, especially for cannabis businesses. 

Mobile programmatic advertising is a highly effective way to reach audiences on the go in the cannabis industry. 

Here are some of the key benefits:

  • Increased reach: You can reach a wider audience as more and more people use their mobile devices to browse and shop. This means you can expand your reach and engage with potential customers no matter where they are.
  • Reach users with a demonstrated interest in cannabis products: Increase conversions by targeting mobile users based on activity, such as those who have downloaded cannabis-related apps like Leafly or WeedMaps.
  • Improved user experience: Mobile programmatic advertising provides a seamless and non-intrusive user experience, essential for mobile users. Native ads that blend in with the content of the app or website can be less disruptive and more engaging.
  • Geofencing: Target people near specific locations relevant to your campaign, such as music festivals, industry events, or competing cannabis stores. By targeting users already in the vicinity, you can increase the effectiveness of your mobile campaigns.

By leveraging mobile programmatic advertising for cannabis and CBD, you can increase your brand’s visibility, engagement, and conversions in a competitive market.

Cannabis Native Ads: Seamless Promotion in Trusted Environments

Phone screen displaying a multitude of apps in a grid pattern.

Native advertising matches the form and function of the platform on which it appears. This strategy can work well in the cannabis industry, where traditional advertising channels aren’t always available. 

Native ads can send a more subtle and effective message to potential customers because they blend in with the user experience. 

Here are some top benefits of native programmatic advertising for your cannabis business:

  • Seamless integration: Native advertising seamlessly integrates into the platform on which it appears, such as a news article or social media post. This builds trust with potential customers and establishes legitimacy for your marijuana or CBD products.
  • Tailored content: By aligning the content of your ad with the interests and preferences of a specific platform’s users, you can enhance your ad’s effectiveness.
  • Increased engagement: Native ads are often less overtly promotional than other forms of advertising, which may make them more likely to be shared and commented on by users. This can increase the reach and effectiveness of your cannabis ads.
  • Compliance: Native advertising can help marijuana and CBD businesses stay compliant with advertising regulations by blending in with the platform’s content and not overtly promoting a product.
  • Effective message delivery: Native ads can deliver a subtle and effective message to potential customers, who may be more receptive to this approach than traditional advertising channels.

Native advertising is a valuable tool for cannabis and CBD businesses looking to reach potential customers in a more subtle and effective way. 

By leveraging native ads via programmatic advertising, your marijuana business can reach more people without being too pushy.

Cannabis Digital Audio Ads: Sales Through Sound

A man wearing headphones, sitting outdoors, with a content smile while reading printed papers.

Digital audio ads make up almost a quarter of all audio ad revenue, and annual growth is expected to continue. They present a valuable opportunity for CBD and cannabis businesses to reach a much wider, more engaged audience.

With cannabis programmatic advertising, you can use data-driven strategies to target consumers with personalized digital audio ads that are relevant to them.

Unlike other forms of advertising, such as display or video ads, digital audio ads are often listened to while users are engaged in other activities, such as driving or working out. 

Listeners are often more focused on the audio content, which can lead to higher levels of engagement with your cannabis ad.

Many of the biggest names in audio are beginning to explore the possibility of running such ads. 

But not all of these companies are eager to publicize this fact.

For CBD and cannabis businesses looking to tap into the audio advertising space, it’s a smart move to leverage digital audio ads. 

You can maximize your reach and get ahead of the competition in this emerging advertising space.

With cannabis programmatic advertising, you can use personalized digital audio ads to intrigue and inspire podcast, radio, and other online listeners to buy your products.

Cannabis Digital Audio Ads: Sales Through Sound

A couple comfortably seated on a couch, attentively watching a large-screen TV.

Connected TV advertising (CTV) refers to ads delivered through internet-connected television devices such as smart TVs, streaming devices, and gaming consoles. 

With this type of programmatic advertising for cannabis, you can use data points like location, demographics, and interests to reach the right people.

CTV ads present several benefits for cannabis and CBD businesses, including:

  • Reaching a broader audience: CTV advertising provides some of the same advantages of streaming ads. An engaged audience, 100% share of voice, and a competitive edge are a few major benefits.
  • Targeting specific demographics: CTV allows for precise audience targeting. For example, a CBD company that specializes in products for older adults can use CTV to reach viewers aged 55 and above who are interested in health and wellness.
  • Engaging audiences with high-quality content: You can create relevant cannabis or CBD video ads that engage and inform viewers about your products.
  • Measuring advertising effectiveness: CTV provides detailed metrics on the ad performance, including viewability, completion rates, and audience demographics. This data allows you to refine your strategies and improve ROI.

The cannabis advertising restrictions that apply to traditional broadcast TV don’t apply to connected TV ads. 

Because information is available on whether account owners are over 21, you can reach your target audience in their homes, during evenings or weekends.

Through programmatic advertising, connected TV ads give cannabis and CBD businesses a unique chance to reach their target audience, raise brand awareness, and engage viewers with high-quality video content.

Search and Social Ads for Cannabis Brands

Programmatic advertising for cannabis can get tricky when it comes to social media platforms.

Major sites like Instagram, Google, and Facebook have regulations that often reject cannabis ads and heavily restrict CBD advertising. 

But there are some things you can do to up your chances of approval.

One tip is to work with an expert firm like Hippo Thinks. Ads we manage may have a better chance of approval if they’ve been previously rejected on your own social media.

As a cannabis business, you can also leverage social and search ads to focus on education and advocacy rather than product promotion.

At the end of the day, whether or not you advertise on these platforms depends on your goals, the audiences you want to reach, and the risks involved.

If your ads do get approved, you can enjoy benefits like ad retargeting and segmentation.

New Ad Approaches for CBD and Cannabis

A bustling city street filled with people and towering billboards, creating a vibrant and dynamic urban atmosphere.

As the CBD and marijuana industries grow, it’s vital to stay ahead of the curve. 

While cannabis programmatic advertising like audio, display, and CTV ads is effective, novel techniques can help your brand stand out. 

Here are a few to consider:

Digital-Out-of-Home Advertising (DOOH)

Displaying ads on digital screens in public locations like malls, airports, and bus stops is known as digital out-of-home (DOOH) advertising. This can be a powerful way to reach a sizable audience while they’re out and about and to focus on particular geographical areas. 

For CBD and cannabis brands, DOOH advertising can be particularly effective because it enables you to reach customers who might not be active on social media or search engines.

Voice Advertising

With the rise of smart speakers such as Amazon Echo and Google Home, voice advertising is becoming an increasingly popular way to reach consumers. 

It involves creating audio ads played through these devices when users ask for certain types of information or make specific requests. Voice advertising may be an excellent way to reach consumers who aren’t actively searching for CBD or cannabis products but who are open to hearing more about them.

Interactive Virtual Reality (VR) Advertising

Interactive virtual reality (VR) advertising is a new way for CBD and cannabis brands to connect with potential customers in a way that’s immersive and interesting. 

By using cannabis programmatic advertising, you can advertise personalized VR experiences that let customers interact with your products and learn more about your brand. 

These experiences can be tailored to specific audiences and targeted based on user demographics and behavior. 

With VR technology becoming more accessible, interactive VR advertising represents a unique way for CBD and cannabis brands to stand out and build brand awareness in a rapidly evolving market.

Compliance 101: Programmatic Advertising for Cannabis Brands

Cannabis programmatic advertising can be a powerful tool for reaching potential customers, but your brand must remain compliant with the applicable federal and state laws.

Here are some helpful tips to achieve that:

  • Know the regulations: Understand both federal and state regulations governing the advertising of cannabis products. Keep up to date with any changes and be sure to comply with all guidelines.
  • Avoid false or deceptive advertising: Ads can’t be false or deceptive, and cannabis products can’t be marketed as a cure or treatment for any medical conditions.
  • Be transparent: Provide clear and accurate information about dosage, ingredients, and potential side effects to consumers.
  • Verify age: Ensure that programmatic ads aren’t served to individuals under the age of 21. Use targeting and verification measures to verify a user’s age before serving them an ad.
  • Don’t depict consumption: Ads cannot depict the consumption of cannabis products or encourage excessive use.
  • Avoid using symbols: Avoid using symbols associated with cannabis, such as marijuana leaves or images of smoking paraphernalia.
  • Don’t use minors: Ads can’t feature minors or suggest that cannabis use is acceptable for underage individuals.
  • Age gate: Ads must be age-gated to ensure that they aren’t served to individuals under the age of 21.
  • Avoid certain terms: Ad copy mustn’t include the terms “weed,” “cannabis,” or “marijuana.”
  • Don’t use child-like depictions: Avoid cartoons, images, or styles that could be construed as marketing to children.
  • Work with experienced professionals: Partner with experienced professionals who understand the legal considerations of advertising CBD and cannabis products.

Your cannabis business must understand all creative and legal restrictions. Failure to comply can result in penalties and harm to the brand’s reputation.

Cannabis Programmatic Advertising: The Future of Your Brand's Success

Cannabis programmatic advertising is a powerful tool for marijuana and CBD businesses looking to reach their target audience and grow their brand. 

With precise targeting, real-time optimization, and cost efficiency, programmatic advertising can get your message in front of the right people.

It can give you a competitive edge and boost your return on investment (ROI), whether you use display, audio, mobile, native, or connected TV ads. 

Don’t let regulatory restrictions hold you back from reaching your full potential. 

Take your cannabis marketing game to the next level. 

Contact us today to learn how we can help you develop a targeted programmatic advertising campaign that drives results and keeps you compliant with the latest regulations.


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