In case you are someone that is either in the cannabis or pharmaceutical business, you must already know by now that Google has some restrictions in terms of advertising for these industries. But, what is there to know, exactly?
If you or your company is dedicated to the marketing of pharmaceutical products, digital advertising can get a bit tricky and finicky with you. Mainly due to the highly stringent requirements for brands that are looking to advertise their products.
Throughout this article, we’re going to discuss some of Google’s restrictions, requirements, tips & how to’s, and hopefully, help you get your products out into the online world for purchase. That is, if Google permits it, being the digital advertising king of the era.
Let’s dive in, shall we?
The King of Digital Advertising
Everyone wants their piece of cake. Everyone wants to be present and selling online. We all want Google to advertise us. That’s the crude reality of the matter.
And why is that? Well, because Google continues to be the digital advertising king of the era. This is so accurate, that digital advertising spend is about to exceed traditional media spend for the first time in history. Yes, this is how huge Google is.
Google continues to take the biggest slice by earning 36.2% of all digital media spend compared to 19.2% for Facebook. But surprisingly enough, all this shining glory won’t all belong to them for long. You might be shocked (or maybe not) to know that the quick rise and incredible rapid growth of other advertising competitors like Amazon and Snapchat might soon be catching up to the “king”.
You get it. But, where are we going with this? The point we intend on making is that Google is still king. Google is still sitting comfortably on the throne. Google’s reign is a reality for every industry wanting to advertise under their rules, even pharmaceutical and medicinal marketers.
Take a look at this: Health and wellness searches make up 1 in 20 of Google searches. This is just 5% of the 63,000 searches happening per second on Google.
And even if the search traffic is a reason for motivation, the legal restrictions remain to be a considerable obstacle for executives or marketers in the pharmaceutical (and also cannabis) businesses.
In the case of cannabis, the search rates rapidly grew between the years 2016 and 2017 but blew up with 160% from 2017 to 2018. In 2019 people were estimated to search for the keyword “CBD” and “cannabidiol” 117.7% more this year. A very promising set of numbers for anyone selling cannabis or within this industry.
However, the restrictions to advertise cannabis-based products are very real on Google- and getting more difficult. A matter which we will get to further into throughout this article.
2 Ways Google Treats Pharmaceutical Advertisements
When it comes to displaying pharma ads, Google restricts the search results to a minimum. If you market your own products, you must have already noticed this.
The strict restrictions are due to two main reasons:
- Review Process. There is an internal, legal and regulatory review process within every brand looking to advertise. All of the content, from printed marketing material to website copy is closely analyzed by Facebook and Google Ads.
- Regulatory Measures. In addition to following every guideline from the FDA and the FTC in order to sell pharmaceuticals in any way, shape or form, by either advertising traditionally or online, you must also follow Google’s specific guidelines in order to market on the platform. That’s a whole lotta rules.
Yes, these are highly rigorous guidelines to follow, which makes it tricky for any pharma brand to advertise their products. Then again, taking the time to understand all of these regulations, will, in the end, ensure your ads are seen by consumers and maintain your account in line and avoid getting it suspended.
Tips to Consider Before Marketing a Pharmaceutical Brand on Google
- Google is very specific in terms of guidelines for medicine and healthcare products being advertised on the platform. Read closely and determine if your product complies with these regulations. If so, what restrictions apply?
- Violating Google’s policies will lead to not only ad disapproval but also the disabling and suspension of your account. Once this happens, it’s hard to come back.
- Consult other pharma experts if you are still unsure about violating Google’s guidelines. Although these are relatively clear, if you are uncertain, ask someone with experience. Better to be safe than be sorry in the long run.
Get Certified with Google to Advertise
In order to start advertising and welcoming those clicks and sales with open arms, you’ll need to apply for certification first. This is specific to healthcare and pharma advertising.
The application process is short and will take you about 2-3 minutes to fill out. Once you’ve been approved, you can start designing your first campaign while still keeping a few other restrictions in mind.
For the certification process you’ll need a few things on hand:
- Google Ads Customer ID number
- Your copy of the pharmaceutical license, this if you are acting as an agency and applying on behalf of manufacturers.
- Website URL. This is optional.
After grabbing all the essentials, you’re ready to fill out the form. In under 5 minutes, you’ll have applied to advertise pharmaceutical products on Google. Well done!
Can You Advertise Cannabis on Google?
Moving on from pharmaceutical drugs, it’s time to discuss running AdWords ads for your cannabis brand. How do you do it? Can you do it? Well. It isn’t easy. Just as pharmaceutical products, cannabis also has its restrictions within Google’s advertising network and it can truly be a challenge but is it surely not impossible.
Within the growing cannabis industry, more and more brands are emerging and looking to advertise their products & services on the advertising king that is Google. Because, as mentioned earlier, Cannabis continues to be a growing niche and the search query statistics reflect this very well.
In this section, we’re going to go through some of the tips and tactics you can use to successfully advertise and market your Cannabis products without getting reviewed or suspended by Google.
It IS Possible to Advertise Cannabis on Google
Yes, it is possible to successfully run ads on Google Adwords to offer services and products related to the cannabis industry. You can advertise through text ads, display ads, remarketing, Gmail, and Google Shopping.
A quick tip: It’s important that your business name DOES NOT contain the word cannabis (or canna, nnabis, or any other form of this word) because if you do, the restrictions are much more rigorous for you. Making it almost impossible for you to successfully run an advertisement, ever.
3 Essential Tips on How to Start Advertising Cannabis on Google
With the above in mind, here are two essential tips to advertise cannabis on Google:
- In order to succeed you need to set your ads up in a way that you pass the algorithm scan. It is vital that you are not using any “prohibited” keywords in your ad’s copywriting, landing page, URL and company name. If you are running an ecommerce business, ensure none of these words are included in your landing page when launching.
- The words cannabis, canna, weed, pot or anything that has to do with these terms will be automatically forbidden, restricted and banned.
- Take note: Once your ad has been disapproved one time, this triggers a manual review and it is hard to recover from this, though not impossible.
You can read Google’s full “Dangerous Products & Services” page here and read up on some of the cannabis-related terms here.
The Bad News for Cannabis Advertising
Although Google’s search query is blowing up with cannabis-related searches, Google’s restrictions are not getting any easier. More words are being forbidden (CBD, cannabidiol, cannabinoid, etc) and the air for the cannabis industry is getting thicker in terms of finding loopholes and ways to sneak past Google, even if your products are truly medicinal.
Nevertheless, it’s never too late to ask yourself (and your company) if Google is the right advertising platform for you. We are well aware that this giant is the biggest advertising platform available online today, however, if neither you nor your consumers are attaining what they need, then maybe it’s time to search for other platforms to work with.
Alternative Networks for Advertising Cannabis
Due to Google’s restrictions, it’s getting more and more difficult to provide cannabis products and services to your consumers. A solution to this might just be finding other advertising networks, such as:
- Bing Ads.
- Traffic Roots
These are some of the networks that are dedicated to the cannabis advertising business.
So, if you’re in the business, do not despair just yet. There are channels available for you still, you just have to find them!
When advertising in someone else’s field, there are rules we have to follow.
The same goes for any other social media advertising network like Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat. Every advertising network has a set of restrictions and rules which work to keep the internet a safe place. Sure, some of these may damage businesses at some level, however, as far as pharmaceuticals, medicine, and medicinal cannabis goes, there are still ways you can advertise your products if you play by the rules.
If you still have any questions regarding this article, let us know. We would be happy to assist you.