Cannabis Digital Marketing: 3 Types of Ads You Need to Be Using

Take it from us: the world of cannabis digital marketing is both deep and wide, suggesting a seemingly endless number of tactics, strategies, and philosophies.

It’s true: Constructing an effective digital marketing strategy is a complex task, and it demands experience, a keen eye on analytics and trends, and a willingness to fine-tune and experiment until you get the results you expect. But every great endeavor, they say, begins with a small step. We’re confident that effective cannabis digital marketing is something anyone can understand, given the context and the tools.

If you’re intimidated by this realm, we’ll help ease you in. We’ll start off with an introduction to three basic ad types you need to be using:

Ready to dive in? Let’s get started!

Cannabis Digital Marketing: Google PPC Ads

You’re already intimate with PPC ads, even if you don’t know it. Any time you do a web search, a number of web pages will display higher in the results because their owners paid for such placement. Depending on the specific search engine, those results might be included among the listings (typically with an “Ad” icon nearby) or they might show in a separate carousel or sidebar.

It’s not much of a stretch to say that PPC ads—short for “pay per click”—are the central pillar of digital advertising platform. And far from being just an online version of traditional print, billboard, or TV ads, they represent a true paradigm shift. With those ads, the cost of the ad spend is based on the number of impressions, or the total of consumers who see that ad. By comparison, the cost of PPC ads is determined by the number of consumers who actually click on them. Instead of paying for the opportunity for consumers to take action, you only pay when they do.

When done correctly, PPC can deliver some fairly astonishing results. While WordStream’s recent chart of average clickthrough rates by industry doesn’t include dispensaries, it’s a useful tool for understanding exactly powerful a well-designed PPC campaign can be.

Of course, there’s the question of how much all those highly trackable clicks actually end up costing you. Because there are any number of dispensaries competing for the highest ad placement for any given keyword, the answer’s a bit of a moving target. The exact cost of those search terms—such as “premium cannabis near me”—is determined by a sort of instantaneous behind-the-scenes auction. The higher number of marketers who are interested in that specific search term, the higher the cost of each consumer click will be. That’s one reason we focus on “return on ad spend” (ROAS) as one of the most crucial performance indices to keep our eyes on for each and every one of our customers.

Where do all these PPC ads actually run? Every search engine supports ads to generate revenue, but because Google dominates the search engine industry—currently representing roughly 92% of market share—we tend to focus our main efforts there. MediaJel launched its Google Ads service in 2016, and since then we’ve added cutting-edge tools like AI/machine learning to deliver exceptional value to our customers.

If you’d like to learn more about how PPC for dispensaries works, start your learning here.

Cannabis Digital Marketing: Geo-Targeted Display Ads

Next up is a class of digital display ads that go by various names: “Geo-targeted, “geo-fenced,” and plain old “geo-ads,” to name a few. But whatever you call them, they’re a remarkably effective tool in the cannabis marketer’s toolkit. They run on platforms such as Google’s Display Network and via programmatic advertising networks, which run small graphic ads on those websites and apps that have agreed to host such content.

Because so many cannabis sales are made by consumers on the go—and because our culture is increasingly dependent on mobile devices—these nimble ads use sophisticated geolocation tools to target potential customers in specific locations. They’re a powerful way to capture consumers’ attention at the exact time and place they’re likeliest to be swayed by your ad.

There are a number of ways to target when, where, and how these mobile display ads appear. Here are a few of the most potent examples:

  • Geo-ads constrained to a radius around your dispensary. Because of the aforementioned “on the go” nature of so many cannabis sales, targeting their mobile devices when they’re in close proximity to you increases the chance of a sale.
  • Geo-ads set to show near a competitor’s dispensary. The same tactic can be flipped. Do you have a more alluring offer or promotion than your competition? Letting consumers know right when they’re ready to buy can win you the sale; thanking them with a robust rewards program can make them a customer for life.
  • Targeting cannabis tourists. Is “cannabis tourism” a thing? You better believe it! Using geo-ads to target transit hubs, rental car facilities, hotel strips and other such areas can meet those consumers’ needs at just the perfect moment.
  • Geo-ads around landmarks and attractions. Along the same lines, you can focus your ads on landmarks and locations your target audience is likely to congregate near. If there’s there a popular commercial strip or natural attraction, you’ll be reaching consumers when and where they play.

Of course, there’s more to the story. If you’d like to know more about the current state of geo-ads and how to use them, begin here.

Cannabis Digital Marketing: Retargeting

“Retargeting” is a method of reaching out to consumers who have interacted with your brand before, and while it’s less-known than the two types of ads we’ve shared above, when done right it’s a uniquely effective way of staying on potential customers’ radar.

Retargeting involves the use of a simple Javascript code—often called a “cookie” or a “pixel”—to track a consumer after they leave your site. This allows you to reach out to (or “retarget”) them later, typically by displaying a mobile banner ad or Google ad. Because many more consumers browse your product menu—or even load up their shopping cart—without actually making a purchase, you have a golden opportunity to remind them of what they’re missing.

The numbers don’t lie: Retargeting is efficient, effective, and a must for those who want to maximize their ROAS. Because the consumers you retarget are already familiar with your offerings, the chance of closing a sale increases greatly when compared with consumers who’ve never interacted with your brand before. And these multiple points of contact—especially when paired with a well-crafted display or other PPC ad campaign—strengthens brand awareness and builds that crucial relationship between customer and brand.

You can take advantage of these ad types with a knowledge cannabis advertising agency. Contact us today to get started and watch your revenue grow.

What we do

What We Do

Elevating digital marketing for regulated companies worldwide with our innovative MarTech solutions and game-changing programmatic software platform

Digital Marketing

An effective cannabis digital marketing and branding strategy captivates and converts target audiences at every point along the buyer’s journey. That’s precisely what we help you do.

Our proprietary targeting tools collect diverse first- and third-party datasets, multi-device identification data, and precise geo data to curate ideal audiences. And we tailor a campaign strategy that reaches across channels, including mobile, advanced TV, audio, mobile, DOOH, desktop, and more.

From early stage awareness through the moment of purchase and the nurturing of repeat customers, every piece of the puzzle is important to your growth and long-term success. We’re here to connect the dots.

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Marketing Cloud

MediaJel’s independent cannabis digital marketing cloud leverages best-in-breed data technologies and SaaS solutions. Our partner agnostic IT stack integrates diverse datasets, creates deeper digital connections, and unlocks ad inventory to target real consumers in real-life scenarios.

Every element of the platform is architected to support and elevate business-building  strategies. From our proprietary intelligent pixels and retargeting tools to our identity-safe impression tracking and multitouch attribution models, we help you do more with your data.

Brand Safety

Cannabis digital marketing and advertising for cannabis companies requires an unrelenting commitment to brand safety and compliance guidelines. And your growth-focused business can’t afford to misstep with poorly placed ads that get caught in regulatory crosshairs.

As more and more publishers open ad inventory to cannabis, it becomes increasingly vital to ensure privacy-first digital advertising and identity-safe marketing strategies. You can feel confident knowing your brand safety is a top priority for us. Our teams work to ensure that compliancy and brand-suitability concerns do not derail you from achieving your goals.

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Publisher Network

Cannabis digital advertising is playing an increasingly important role from the top to the bottom of the marketing funnel. And we’re positioned to help fuel that growth with better inventory, better targeting data, and better programmatic performance.

MediaJel powered by Equativ  is proud to offer the cannabis industry’s worlds largest programmatic private marketplace of endemic and non-endemic ad inventory. The depth and breadth of our exclusive global footprint – delivered through our proprietary ad server – reaches over 75,000+ publisher channels.

How we do it


Corporate size and financial balance sheets are no longer the most predictive measures of scalable, sustainable market leadership. Digital marketing has upended the traditional yardsticks. 

Thanks to big data and AI in today’s advertising industry, access to technology alone doesn’t guarantee success. Yes, data and software are important ingredients of innovation. But the real secret sauce?

Ingenuity and good old people smarts.


We believe cannabis companies should be freed from restrictive digital advertising barriers.

You deserve access to technology tools and expertise – regardless of your size or geography – that reflect the same innovative and entrepreneurial spirit you bring to the market.

Don’t compromise on safety or scale.