Never Mind Its Legality: As the Cannabis Industry Grows, So Does Its Ad Spend

The cannabis industry is growing by leaps and bounds: Headset projects ( U.S. growth this year of $22 billion. But those cannabis companies themselves? They’re not yet satisfied.
Written by 
Joan Oleck, Cannabis Journalist.
|Last Updated:
Cannabis ads spend

In fact, they’re out there spending (and out-spending their previous outlays) according to data just released by MediaRadar. The sales intelligence company reported $32.7 million in ad sales for a little over the first quarter of 2021 (through 10. That’s up 118 percent from 2020’s $15 million for the same period, the sales intelligence company said.

The company says it provides ad analysis for more than 3.1 million brands across multiple media platforms, including TV, digital, mobile, email, social media and more.

Founder and CEO Todd Krizelman pointed out in a statement that, despite the current patchwork of laws, “Marketing from marijuana and CBD products continues to increase sharply.

“While aggregate spend is still relatively small, this is one of the fastest growing segments of advertising,” the executive said. “Also, we thought I was interesting that the bulk of advertising is not from marijuana and manufacturers themselves, but instead from a collection of brands that support the industry.”

Retail was one of those brand sectors. Another was newer lifestyle brands like Houseplant, launched in California in March by the actor/screenwriter Seth Rogen and his partner Evan Goldberg. Houseplant focuses on sales of lighters, ashtrays and music box sets as much as it does on marijuana.

Some highlights of what MediaRadar’s data found:

  • Top brands in terms of advertising spend in the weeks leading up to the cannabis holiday 4/20 2021 included: Level Select CBD, Sunnyside, Feals, Marley Natural and Harrelson’s Own.
  • National television has seen the biggest increase in ad spend – namely 2,000 percent –, compared to two other ad avenues: print and digital. Through the beginning of April 2021, that year over year increase has amounted to $3.1 million, versus $111,000 for the same period in 2020.
  • Print ad spend has comprised 68 percent of total ad spend so far in 2021,with ads appearing in B2B publications (e.g., Drug Store Review, Chain Drug Review) and consumer publications (such as Martha Stewart Living, US Weekly and the Chicago Tribune).

Media Radar’s analysis included dispensaries (both medical and recreational), growing and processing equipment, and ingestible products.

Some month-by-month comparisons:

January 2018, $552k; 2019, $848k; 2020, $752k; and 2021,$514k

March 2018, $1.04mm; 2019, $679k; 2020, $686k; and 2021, $1.0mm

April 2018, $490k; 2019, $1.02mm; 2020, $750k; and 2021, $157k (through the 10th)

Joan Oleck
Joan Oleck
Cannabis Journalist
Joan Oleck is a freelance writer currently specializing in the cannabis industry and cannabis tech. She has been an editor and reporter on staff for such publications as, Business Week, Newsday and The Detroit News. She won the Jesse Neal Award for best feature series in a trade publication, Restaurant Business, and a GLAAD Award for a Salon story about discrimination in adoption against single and gay parents

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