By: Will Bolles

It’s April: a month where everyone can find something to celebrate. The list of events to look forward to includes the conclusion of NCAA basketball tournaments, MLB’s opening day, the Masters, Easter, what should be the end of winter in Chicago, Phish’s triumphant return to Madison Square Garden, and of course, 4/20. Yes, I am talking about that 4/20!

With cannabis becoming legal in more and more states each year, it’s always a good time to take a step back and think about how to best pitch programmatic advertising when speaking with cannabis marketers. In this article, we’ll explore how cannabis campaigns are pitched and executed in Basis DSP.

Last year, cannabis tech company Dutchie conducted a study consisting of over 5,000 adult cannabis consumers in the US and Canada, with the goal of better understanding the modern cannabis user. Their study concluded that “cannabis users are highly educated – 54% have a college degree or higher, and more are likely to participate in the workforce than the average American.”

The study also found that the employment status of cannabis consumers ranged from high-achieving doctors and lawyers to mothers, teachers, creatives, and athletes. The takeaway? The negative stigma around cannabis is finally waning, and we can lean on programmatic advertising to help discover many new audiences in this fast-growing industry.

For example, cannabis has broken into the health and wellness space in recent years. Frontier Data performed a study last October to better understand health and wellness patterns amongst current U.S. cannabis consumers. The study resulted in three main findings when it comes to usage from the modern-day cannabis consumer:

  • Relaxation and stress relief: 52% of cannabis consumers reported taking cannabis to improve their mental health during the COVID pandemic. With nightlife virtually nonexistent in 2020 and into 2021, many spent their nights and weekends indulging in the “devil’s lettuce” while binging trending TV shows.
  • Combining cannabis exercise: 13% of consumers reported regular use of cannabis before exercise to improve training. Not sure I fully understand this one, but hey—to each their own!
  • Alcohol replacement: 47% of cannabis consumers replaced at least some alcohol use with cannabis. No hangover, but still getting that sense of release? Sign me up!

Knowing that the target audience in cannabis has shifted, it’s important to remind cannabis marketers when pitching campaigns that they might not know who makes up their target audience. This is where you can speak to running a well-rounded media plan with a good mix of targeting and tactics, and then utilizing the Basis DSP optimization tools to dial in on top-performing segments and domains towards the pre-determined KPI.

I have been coming across a lot of campaigns in the cannabis space that were only targeting cannabis/CBD keywords, or only targeting cannabis/CBD-accepting PMP deals. While running in a contextually relevant environment is a very sound way to reach the target audience, it’s time to embrace the fact that today’s cannabis users could be anyone from my own grandma to a fitness instructor at the gym down the street. Don’t be afraid to test out some segments that don’t relate to cannabis as you build these plans out!

For more information on cannabis advertising in the programmatic space, be sure to listen to the February edition of the Basis podcast – Adtech Unfiltered – with Enlighten Chief Digital Officer Sam Hollander. For a deeper dive, download our guide on cannabis marketing: Cannabis Marketing in the Roaring 2020’s. Finally, tune into our Q2 Rev Up Revenue webinar in June to hear more about the cannabis vertical and how to create a successful plan in this space.