Click-through rate data varies by intent. Most users are clicking on organic search results, according to data analyzed by the software company SparkToro in an October 2018 report: On desktop, organic Google searches drew a 66.5 percent clickthrough rate vs. 3.9 percent for paid ads. But pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns deliver quicker results, according to digital marketing software company WordStream Inc., and allow brands to demographically target consumers.

“It’s just such a new industry, we don’t know anybody’s reasoning for anything” when it comes to these restrictions, said Erik Zeiner, president of IndieSEM LLC, a digital marketing and search engine marketing company based in Utah that services several CBD companies.

Zeiner also advises CBD clients to lean into SEO when considering online marketing, often telling them to target industry-related phrases, such as “hemp” or “CBD,”  in hopes of moving up in the search rankings.

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But quality organic traffic is not free. While it’s difficult to estimate how much an SEO campaign will cost versus one utilizing a pay-per-click ad campaign, Zeiner said his firm’s service for managing PPC campaigns would, in most cases, be cheaper than SEO services.

Evans and others said the current climate has less to do with regulation and more to do with these private companies not feeling comfortable with allowing the products on their platforms — although those two things are not mutually exclusive.

The Drug Enforcement Administration has kept approved cannabidiol drugs on its list of controlled substances, despite the Farm Bill lifting the ban on industrial hemp in December 2018. And the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act prohibits CBD-infused food and drinks, or even approved drugs, from interstate commerce.

The public is picking up on this confusion: 61 percent said they believe CBD is legal, according to Morning Consult polling, with 11 percent thinking it is illegal and 28 percent unsure.

“Social advertising is waiting on that federal government regulation to be in place,” Evans said.



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