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Cannabis Businesses Are Running More Geofenced Campaigns. Here’s Why

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While geofenced campaigns and foot traffic attribution are old hat for mainstream brands, they represent a new frontier for cannabis businesses.

Despite widespread legalization in many states, the cannabis industry has been shut out from many of the most effective marketing and advertising strategies. In some cases, those restrictions come in the form of strict state and federal laws. In other cases, it’s simply due to a lack of ad tech platforms willing to accept their campaigns.

But times are changing, and new doors are opening up to businesses in the cannabis industry.

With many states labeling cannabis businesses as “essential” during the coronavirus lockdowns, the industry as a whole is riding high. Dispensaries are seeing traffic increases of several hundred percent to their online ordering and curbside pickup programs, helping them weather the economic storm that many businesses are facing. Now, with lockdown orders ending in many parts of the country, these businesses are looking to build on the momentum and investing in marketing solutions previously reserved for more mainstream brands.

“Most agencies today are still tiptoeing around their involvement in cannabis and CBD but everyone sees the growth potential in this industry,” says Chris Shreeve, co-founder of the programmatic agency PrograMetrix. “It is really important for brands to find service providers that have a vested interest in the growth of this industry and aren’t just trying to ride on the coattails of our budding industry.”

Shreeve’s agency recently formed a partnership with the cannabis-specific ad tech platform Safe-Reach to help its cannabis clients run geofenced advertising campaigns — something they hadn’t been able to do before.

Although geofencing is a digital advertising tactic that brands in other industries have been using for years, cannabis businesses have struggled to find ways to target consumers on their mobile devices. With the new partnership between PrograMetrix and Safe-Reach, cannabis businesses can reach consumers on mobile devices using the location services on their phones.

“If you are at a restaurant by a nearby dispensary, geofencing allows you to reach consumers within a certain radius of your store to encourage store visitation,” Shreeve says.

Because most cannabis brands and retailers have a hyper-local footprint, and few companies have stores in multiple states or nationally recognized brands, cannabis marketers can have a hard time reaching consumers on their devices in a targeted way. With geofencing, these same marketers will be able to accurately target known cannabis consumers, while maintaining total control over the size and scale of their campaigns.

Cannabis brands have also traditionally struggled to track campaigns from an impression to the actual sale. Since the majority of cannabis transactions are done in cash, retailers and brands have limited ways to quantify the impact that advertising has on sales. Through foot traffic attribution, Shreeve says businesses can now track consumers who have seen their ad campaigns and gone to their actual retail stores.

“Now, we cannot actually determine what was purchased or the total basket size of that consumer, but we can use foot-traffic attribution data to see the conversion percentage between how many impressions we served, how many consumers clicked the ads, and then how many of those users actually ended up at a dispensary,” he says.

Shreeve and his family have deep roots in the cannabis industry, dating back to when it was only medically legal in the state of Washington. That experience is what opened Shreeve’s eyes to the lack of mainstream technologies available for cannabis advertising, and it is part of the reason why he has worked at PrograMetrix to open those doors for clients in emerging spaces. Once cannabis started to take off, Shreeve says he knew it was time to jump in headfirst with industry-specific advertising solutions.

The global coronavirus crisis has made operating in an already-complicated industry even more challenging. However, Shreeve says the pandemic has unintentionally led a number of cannabis retailers and brands to use their digital assets more aggressively than before.

Shreeve doesn’t see consumer behavior changing much in the near future or the demand for cannabis and CBD decreasing. He believes cannabis brands are going to need to market directly to consumers to educate them on the value of their products.

“Pre-Covid, cannabis brands didn’t really care about their website presence because they couldn’t actually sell products directly on their website. They focused their marketing efforts on budtender education and in-store training,” he says. “Now, retailers aren’t seeing the same level of foot traffic as before and are leveraging online ordering and curbside pickup as a safer way to purchase products during the pandemic.”

Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.Rainbow over Montclair

Stephanie Miles is a journalist who covers personal finance, technology, and real estate. As Street Fight’s senior editor, she is particularly interested in how local merchants and national brands are utilizing hyperlocal technology to reach consumers. She has written for FHM, the Daily News, Working World, Gawker, Cityfile, and Recessionwire.