If you are reading this you are probably looking around to see what cannabis ad networks are out there. Here we will go through the current ones in detail and tell you which ones we think are the best and the worst. In short, currently, the Mantis Ad Network is the best cannabis ad network for publishers.
Currently here are the cannabis ad networks that are out there that we know of:
Ad Networks Designed For Cannabis
These ad networks are either targeted specifically to the cannabis industry by companies who realize the special needs of this market, or at least they specialize in highly regulated markets including the cannabis industry.
Mantis Ad Network – Currently Our Top Pick
Mantis is a US-based cannabis ad network. It’s currently the most popular ad network for cannabis and CBD. It has many websites as part of its network including this site and Leafly, MedicalJane, and GrassCity Forums, and more. Originally, the “420 Ad Network” was acquired by Mantis Ad Network and is now part of that same merged company. Mantis offers no intermediary fees and has been effective for both publishers and advertisers.
Review of Mantis Ad Network, Publisher Side
Currently, Mantis is our main network and the overall best. It pays the most, has the highest fill, and they take 0% commission and pay 100% out to advertisers. Mantis’ platform allows you to manage your own ads.
CannBe – A Close Second
CannBe is based in Israel and is our choice for the current second-best cannabis ad network. They run on a revenue share model that’s generous and publishers are assigned an account executive to help them with any support issues. They’re a media company founded by cannabis entrepreneurs.
Review of CannBe Ad Network, Publisher Side
We previously ran ads with both CannBe and Mantis, and at times CannBe had a higher average CPM. Additionally, CannBe backfills with their own sites and pays publishers for that as well.
CannBe Review, Publisher Side
Currently, we do not run CannBe ads because they did not have enough fill consistently for us to continue.
For a smaller volume site, CannBe may be a very good fit. We ran their network for about 4 months and they operate on a split fee agreement of ad revenue. Payments were fast with CannBe and a dedicated representative assists with any issues you might have.
Overall, CannBe is a great network and something we would consider running again once there is more fill alongside Mantis.
Puff Network – Fast Payouts, But Lower
Puff Network is based in Canada and has some high level publishers including High Times and Skunk on its platform for publishers. As the name implies, it was founded with cannabis businesses in mind first.
Puff Network Review, Publisher Side
We ran Puff Network on this site for a few months and customer service is very fast and impressive. It’s also nice that you can cash-out anytime via PayPal and get paid quicker than some of the net terms of most other ad networks.
The downside of Puff Network is the CPM deteriorated over time and the payouts are overall lower than that of Mantis or CannBe.
Traffic Roots – Now More Ads On General Sites
Traffic Roots is a US-based cannabis ad network that received funding from Canopy Boulder. You can find a much more detailed rundown of Traffic Roots here. They deliver ads across cannabis and other sites and give advertisers the option to show traffic on adult networks as well.
Traffic Roots Review, Publisher Side
Unfortunately, Traffic Roots paid out the lowest rate of any cannabis ad network we tried. They also had a $250 minimum cashout, which is substantially more than any of the other cannabis ad networks. The overall CPM paid out several times lower than other cannabis ad networks.
Lately it looks like Traffic Roots now also focuses on non cannabis sites that still allow cannabis and CBD ads. For companies looking to advertise cheaper, but not necessarily targeted at cannabis alone, it might be a good option.
For those looking for more targeted cannabis and CBD traffic, the standard cannabis ad networks may be more effective.
We haven’t tried the following sites, but they indicate that they may also be cannabis-friendly ad network and affiliate alternatives.
Kush Clicks Marijuana Ad Network
Kush Clicks is a US-based company that helps advertisers connect with publishers. It does not seem that this network actually takes any direct publishers but is more in the business of assisting advertisers, possibly with multiple platforms.
Healthy Ads is an ad platform that is shown across various health related sites. They accept both CBD and Medical Marijuana related ads.
CannAffiliate bills itself as “affiliate marketing for the cannabis industry.” They accept dispensaries, cannabis brands, and CBD brands.
A specialized network that works just for the CBD sub-industry, including ingested products.
A “lifestyle brands” advertising network that is tailored for the cannabis and CBD industries.
Networks that specifically ban cannabis products
You can rule out:
- Google ads
- Facebook and Instagram ads
All of these specifically prohibit cannabis, marijuana, CBD, drugs in general, or “any illegal activity” even by other country’s laws.
The topical CBD exception
All ad networks do allow hemp-derived topical CBD advertising. This means:
- bath bombs
- pet products
- beauty care
Anything that is a non-ingested application (you do not eat it, drink it, smoke it, vape it, etc.). This is a really weird exception, and takes a lot of explaining. Since CBD is federally legal to sell (barring all the health claims restricted by the FDA), all CBD should be allowed. Word is still out on delta 8, too.
Why is Digital Cannabis Advertising So Difficult?
In the US, cannabis is still federally illegal and will be until a major reform bill passes at the federal level through a House, Senate, and presidential approval. Individual states are legalizing anyway, at paces varying from “tentative limited medical use” to “smoke it in the street!”
Other than the US, only four countries in the world allow complete, unfettered recreational cannabis use: Canada, Uruguay, Georgia, and South Africa, and of those four, only Canada and Uruguay allow the sale of cannabis products (the others allow consumption but not free trade). Roughly one third (???) of the other nations on Earth allow cannabis in some limited degree for medical purposes, personal use, or decriminalized.
Now, the Internet is a global market. Which means, when you advertise on the Internet, you have far more to worry about than your own country’s laws. True, your country may let you post whatever the heck you want on the Internet… and other countries can ban your website! Advertising networks want to be as global as possible, because that increases the income pool for the ad network and its clients alike. So if an ad network takes the conservative approach and prohibits content that could be illegal in almost any country, they broaden their scope and increase potential revenue.
Not only does the cannabis industry fall into the grayest of legal gray areas right now, but it’s far from being the only controversial industry. Just for one example, here’s the list of prohibited content on Taboola, and the even longer list of partially allowed, but restricted content. Stuff like tobacco, prescription medications, and firearms are prohibited right out. There’s even restrictions on dental products, cosmetics, and cryptocurrency! Beyond that, literally every ad and its landing page is screened by personnel for quality, spaminess, and general edgy practices.
So cannabis is just too hard-core for the global ad market. You have to remember also that outside of international laws, advertising an edgy product causes other sponsors to drop out. There’s products that don’t want to advertise on certain sites, and there’s sites that don’t want certain products advertised there.
These same kinds of hangups are affecting other financial spheres of the cannabis industry, like banking and insurance. It’s one reason why your local dispensary still deals only in cash. Times may change later, but even if the US goes fully legal like Canada, digital marketing will always be weird for the cannabis industry, as is advertising for other adult-oriented products.
We’ll keep this list updated!
readers, we welcome your input if you have experience with a marketing platform in the scope of the cannabis industry – but negative and positive stories. Business owners, we mean you too, don’t be shy! Check in at the comments below or in our comfy forum.