Leveraging the Power of Video: Cannabis YouTube Advertising

Once upon a time, creating video ads was out of the reach of the average cannabis dispensary. Even if you did manage to scrape together the funds to produce a well-crafted and compelling piece of video content, where would you share it? With YouTube and other major platforms having cracked down on cannabis-related content, there seemed to be little point to shelling out for cannabis YouTube advertising.

Cannabis Youtube Advertising

Fortunately, things are beginning to change. Earlier this year, YouTube quietly updated its ad guidelines, signaling it would allow “expanded monetization” on videos that include explicit drug-related content, which until recently weren’t allowed to include ads at all. With three broad ad tiers—“Always allowed”; “Requiring advertiser opt-in”; and “Never allowed”—there are more opportunities than ever for savvy dispensaries. How do you seize this opportunity? Let’s take a deep dive into the immersive world of cannabis YouTube advertising.

Cannabis YouTube Advertising: The Basics

YouTube’s change of heart couldn’t come at a better time for dispensaries. With some sources estimating that by 2022 digital videos will account for the vast majority of all internet traffic, those businesses that can make the leap from static to video ads will be positioned to reap sizeable rewards. The marketplace agrees: Analytics firm Hubspot reports that 72% of consumers already prefer to learn about new products or services via video.

Nor is the price of entry nearly as steep as it once was. While some high-flying cannabis videos are virtual showcases of the videographer’s craft—we fell bigtime for Kiva’s 4/20 video last year—long-form cannabis videos tend to be the exception. Some industry sources estimate that an average dispensary should be able to produce a compelling and effective 15- or 30-second spot for between $1,500 and $5,000, give or take.

Of course, you’ll also need to pay the platform—YouTube, in this case—itself. Generally, cannabis YouTube ads are uploaded and configured through the Google Ads interface, where an average daily budget might be on the order of $10 – $20. Alternately, you can investigate YouTube’s own online advertising portal.

So, what does your video need to include—and, just as importantly, need not to include? Let’s drill down into the nuts and bolts of getting a dispensary video ad off the ground.

Cannabis YouTube Advertising: Types of Videos to Consider

Because with so many aspects of the cannabis world and dispensary life to highlight, the creative marketing director has a wide range of options when it comes to planning a video. Some of the strongest options include:

The Dispensary Tour

Especially as the nation cautiously opens back up post-COVID, you’ve got an untapped resource to share: All the work you’ve invested in your storefront and product displays! A short video tour of your dispensary gives potential customers a behind-the-scenes look, primes their expectations, and entices them to come in and visit you in person.

Your Company Culture

As we’ve written before, a lot of the business of selling cannabis isn’t really about cannabis at all: It’s about creating a meaningful emotional connection with consumers so that they identify more deeply with your brand. And one of the best ways to help foster this is through behind-the-scenes videos showcasing your company culture. Recognizing that your team members are active and engaging people just like them is a great way to forge that all-important bond, and you’ll note it doesn’t even have anything to do with “cannabis!”

Dispensary Events

The year+ of COVID lockdown put the chill on in-store and sponsored events, but now that warm weather’s here, there’s no excuse not to host special events like “Farmer’s Markets,” educational presentations, and other events that welcome your community. You can—and should—be making the most of these opportunities by committing them to video for later use in promo spots. A crowd of people curious about what your dispensary offers? It’s a movie that practically writes itself!

Educational Videos

Scratch the surface of the cannabis consumer community and you’ll quickly learn there’s an enormous hunger for valid information and guidance about products. You can help fill this gap—and build your brand voice and authority—by producing how-to and general education videos on a virtually unlimited range of products and topics. Make them short, sweet and to the point—don’t forget fun!—and you’ll be on the way towards capturing a whole new audience through your video ads!

Cannabis YouTube Advertising: Specific Do’s and Don’ts

We’re excited to help you usher in the era of video-based cannabis advertising, but given the cannabis plant’s complicated legal status, there are naturally a few no-no’s. We maintain an up-to-date listing of state-by-state cannabis advertising regulations. But over and above this, here are a few key considerations to take into account when you’re thinking of running cannabis ads. Specifically, they cannot include:

  • Suggestions of health or medical benefits
  • Elements that could appeal to children, such as cartoon characters
  • Statements that could be construed as false or misleading, including those made about competitors’ products
  • Testimonials or endorsements (for instance, from doctors)
  • Scenes of product consumption
  • Pricing, potency statements, or promotional offers

All video ads for cannabis-infused products must state “For Adult Use Only.” In addition, dispensaries operating in Alaska, Arkansas, California, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, Ohio, Oregon, and Washington must include state-specific disclaimers in their videos. Florida currently requires ad creative to be submitted for state review.

That said, we wholeheartedly invite you to investigate the world of cannabis YouTube advertising. With the platform’s new, relaxed ad guidelines and the growing popularity of video ads, this is a special opportunity for dispensaries to leverage the power of the next big wave in digital advertising. Want help putting something together—or want to try OTT video ads on Smart TVs via programmatic advertising? Contact us to get started!