Tactics to Keep CBD Ads Running on Facebook in the UK and Germany

October 1, 2020

Key Takeaways

Facebook and Instagram strictly regulate the advertising of products containing CBD, which fall under the platform’s Prohibited Content Policy. Earlier in 2019, some CBD brands (e.g. Oto Cbd, Rebotanicals, & BB Lifestyle) used Facebook ads targeting UK consumers to promote their products. However, only half of those ads were aired for more than one day. 

  • Facebook Ads Messaging — Avoid Mentioning CBD in the Copy or Image: VAAY ran a series of Facebook ads without mentioning their product ingredients and directed them to the informational landing pages rather than to the main ecommerce website. This enabled them to keep one of their ads running for 29 days. BB Lifestyle was also successful in keeping their ads running, one of which was on air for 66 days. Neither the ad copy nor the image mentioned “CBD”, however they highlighted their patented HC56Complex, which does have a CBD component. Another example is from Rebotanicals—the ad they aired in July didn’t reference any of the ingredients but rather highlighted the purity of the product itself. 
  • Facebook Ads Focus — Lead with Cream and Balm Products: Instead of mentioning CBD, the above mentioned CBD brands actually led with products that contained hemp oil extracts. 
  • Instagram Influencer Program — Engage Influencers and Nurture Brand Ambassadors: Influencers can organically post about your product, yet promoted posts were getting banned.

Instagram Organic Content — Build Strong Organic Content Strategy and Engage Community: There were no successful examples of CBD brands running paid ads on Instagram. The only two examples of the sponsored content containing “Hemp” in the copy came from Body Shop and Hey Bud. However, neither of those products contained CBD.

While advertising CBD products on Instagram and Facebook remains constrained, some European brands were able to get their products in front of the social media audience in the UK and Germany.

CBD Ads - UK and Germany
* Only half of these ads were on air for more than one day. 

The UK-based brand OTO CBD ran a Facebook holiday campaign last December, promoting its cosmetic products. 

OTO CBD - Facebook Ads
Ad #1 , Ad #2 , Ad #3

With three look-alike visuals and identical copy, two of the OTO CBD ads ran for at least a week and led to the shop page on the website

OTO CBD - Look-alike visuals and identical copy

While there was a significant uplift in page visits from Nov ‘19 to Dec ‘19 (+288%), it cannot be directly attributed to the social media ads. Yet, they might have indirectly stimulated Organic Search and Direct visits, both of which almost doubled in Dec ‘19. 

OTO CBD - Page Visits
Directional data—desktop only page visits. 

Rebotanicals was another company that launched two subsequent ads on Facebook in October 2019. The first one featured CBD body oil and was airing for three days.

Rebotanicals - Facebook Ads

Despite the +79% increase in social traffic, three days of running the ad did not contribute to the overall website traffic. Website visits to rebotanicals.com have been trending down MoM.

Rebotanicals - Website Traffic

BB Lifestyle, mainly a hemp-infused skincare brand, ran a series of product-focused Facebook ads referencing hemp extract in the ad copy between July and September 2019.

BB Lifestyle - Facebook Ads
Ad #1 , Ad #2 , Ad #3

Two video-based ads, one featuring the Performance product line targeting sport enthusiasts and the other highlighting hemp oil and carrying a more feminine undertone, had longer air time than the image-based ads. 

BB Lifestyle - Video Ads
Ad #1 , Ad #2 , Ad #3

While BB Lifestyle ads targeted the audience in the UK, the “Shop Now” CTA led to the international bblifestyle.com website rather than the UK website (bblifestyleuk.com).

BB Lifestyle - UK Audience
* Source: Justia Trademarks

Despite the social traffic increase by +1,703% and potentially stimulated brand awareness reflected in the higher MoM organic search visits, Facebook ads didn’t effectively impact website traffic. 

BB Lifestyle - Page Visits
Directional data—desktop only page visits. 

At the same time, mobile traffic increased by 3,164% (Jul. ‘19 to Aug. ‘19). However, there is no mobile traffic data available for the subsequent months to draw any conclusions from.

German brand Vaay ran a series of ads (four creatives in total) highlighting product benefits ”calm down” and “relax” without mentioning neither CBD nor hemp ingredients in the copy. All ads were published from Feel VAAY Facebook account, which was used only to run the ads.

Vaay - calm down - relax
Ad #1 , Ad #2 , Ad #3 , Ad #4

The ads with a “Shop Now” call to action led to the Your Vaay landing page, while the ones with a “Learn More” CTA linked to the Lets Vaay page. Both websites were purely informational and redirected to the main ecommerce site (vaay.com).  

Vaay - Your Vaay - Lets Vaay
Ad #1 , Ad #2

While Facebook ads activated the social media channel, their air time and reach weren’t sufficient to effectively impact website visits. Referral traffic to yourvaay.com and the paid search campaign pointing to letsvaay.com drove the most visits to the respective websites.

Vaay - yourvaay.com - letsvaay.com
Ad #1 , Ad #2

There were a few more ads featuring CBD products on Facebook during 2019-2020, however, given that their air time was less than one day, it is likely that they were taken down by the platform.

CBD Products on Facebook
Ad #1 , Ad #2 , Ad #3 , Ad #4

The Body Shop and an Australian hemp skincare brand Hey Bud promoted their hemp-infused products on Instagram to the UK audience. However, none of these products had any CBD keywords and the ads containing “hemp” in the copy were successfully running for over a month.

Cannabis - The Body Shop - Hey Bud
Ad #1 , Ad #2

Several CBD brands attempted to launch Instagram ads targeting UK and German consumers, yet neither of those ads ran for longer than one day.

CBD Brands - Instagram Ads in UK and Germany
Ad #1 , Ad #2 , Ad #3 , Ad #4

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