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Digital Advertising 101: Behavioral and Contextual Targeting

Get The Most Out Of Your Advertising Dollars 

In today’s increasingly digital world, it's becoming more and more vital for growing brands to advertise online. For cannabis brands, this is especially critical, as there is an ever-increasing amount of competing marijuana and CBD brands seeking to grow their consumer base. Set your cannabis brand apart from the competition by mounting a successful digital advertising campaign and put your brand’s messaging in front of millions of potential customers.

Two key methods employed by successful digital advertisers are behavioral and contextual targeting. These methods ensure that your advertising dollars are not wasted on placing ads in front of consumers who are not interested in your product. Instead, your advertisements are specifically targeted to customers who are in-market for cannabis or CBD.

For cannabis brands, finding a trusted advertiser that specializes in these methods is difficult due to the highly regulated nature of the industry. Cannabis brands need a digital advertising partner who has an understanding of cannabis advertising law as well as digital advertising expertise. Luckily, we check both those boxes. In addition to being 100% legally compliant, Vana is a pioneer of behavioral and contextual targeting specifically for cannabis companies. 

Understanding Behavioral Targeting

All consumers exhibit specific behaviors that advertisers can track. Marijuana-focused behavioral tracking identifies consumers who are curious about the cannabis space, which allows the appropriate brands to effectively woo prospective buyers with targeted digital advertising.

Our behavioral targeting methodologies focus on using first-party and third-party data. The former comes straight from Vana’s own online properties, and the latter comes from a variety of trusted sources.

Third party data comes from any activity a target persona takes online — think frequented sites, web searches, or buying history. Once this data is amassed and analyzed by powerful software, the full scope of a user’s behavior creates a basic consumer profile. As data points accumulate over time, a full-fledged picture of the consumer emerges.

Though third-party data is vital, our first-party data provides a bit more value to our customers. As consumers on Vana’s engagement platform learn about product types, locate and call retailers, or reserve products for pickup or delivery, we store that data in a data management platform.. This is extremely valuable because it tells us these consumers are in the market for (or at least considering) cannabis products. 

From there, we are able to use this data to retarget and segment messaging based on what a certain user is interested in. For example, if a user was looking specifically at THC edibles instead of the flower itself, we’d make sure to send messaging based around edibles.

Vana uses the resulting profile as a way to categorize each user into targeted customer buckets. People who fall into each bucket share similar traits, which makes them more likely to want specific types of content. For example, older individuals might be new to the cannabis market and intrigued by the health benefits of CBD products. On the other hand, younger marijuana buyers might already be comfortable around cannabis and seek recreational brands that dovetail with their preferred lifestyles.

By concentrating on behavioral targeting, a cannabis company can increase the effectiveness of its content. Ultimately, this boost helps them gain more click-throughs, strengthen prospect engagement, and secure high-quality conversions.

How Cannabis Brands Can Employ Behavioral Targeting

All in all, behavioral targeting might seem like a difficult concept to grasp. Fortunately, trusted third-party digital partners — including Vana — provide software to help cannabis brands take advantage of machine-learning algorithms and big data.

As you feed data to this software, it begins to make correlations between users and profile each user individually. The input might include metrics like specific button clicks, time spent on a site, frequency of site visits, or other integral data points. Again, the key to making sense of all this information is having a sophisticated system to synthesize it.

Vana uses behavioral targeting’s outputs to display the most efficient cannabis advertisements. When users see personally relevant marijuana or CBD marketing, they’ll be more likely to move into the sales funnel by clicking through to a landing page or taking another step.

While it may seem like behavioral targeting covers all the bases, contextual targeting is necessary in instances when behavioral information is unavailable. So, in addition to behavioral targeting, Vana also employs contextual targeting to ensure the absolute efficiency of all the ads we serve.

Contextual Targeting and Associated Benefits

Contextual targeting, also known as contextual advertising or contextual marketing, can bypass the need for behavioral data. Contextual targeting doesn’t consider the visitor individually but instead looks at the context for ad placements. 

For instance, Vana’s intuitive software might determine that a compliant digital ad for CBD products belongs on the same page as an article discussing natural, legal alternatives to pharmaceutical painkillers for seniors. By understanding the context of the surrounding language, properly programmed digital advertising software can make a logical conclusion about where to place an ad.

In action, contextual targeting occurs in a matter of microseconds. Crawlers analyze websites and visitors, thus establishing a generalized understanding of what a page is about. Once it creates a basic overview of the page’s content, the crawler can then pepper that page with advertising that probably matches its information.

Beyond protecting user identities and information, contextual marketing provides a great complement to existing articles, videos, images, and related content. Plus, according to an IPG Media Lab study, cannabis brands using contextual targeting could see up to a 63% rise in consumer buying potential due to the relevancy of the ads and what the site visitor is reading.



To learn more about Vana’s ethical and effective digital advertising strategies for cannabis brands, get in touch with us today. Our team welcomes the chance to walk you through a customized demonstration to show how we’ve helped countless cannabis brands engage consumers and win loyal  customers.

The Vana Team

By: The Vana Team

Vana is the leading compliant marketing platform for cannabis and CBD. We reach over 200 million unique consumers per month and offer compliant advertising and marketing solutions for brands and retailers across the cannabis and CBD industry.