By Brad Weissberg/Oct. 18, 2017
Traffic Roots is a company that wants to bring digital cannabis marketing to a worldwide audience through their cannabis digital network.
“Print can not be scaled and doesn’t reach a digital audience,” said Christian Valdez, co-founder, Traffic Roots. “And no one was serving the digital platforms of the cannabis community. I saw a giant hole.” Valdez went to technology-minded co-founders Cary White and Ray Bonander and Traffic Roots was born.
Christian Valdez, co-founder, Traffic Roots.
“When I was in my traditional ad network job a lot of the salesmen would come to me and say they had companies in the cannabis space that really wanted to talk about getting into the network and advertising,” said Valdez. “This was from both sides of the ad business, publishers who wanted to monetize their site, and advertisers who wanted to reach a particular audience.”
One hundred percent of the time, Valdez had to tell them that’s there’s nothing his company could do; cannabis was not allowed on the network in any form.
Valdez did some research and found out that the scale of the cannabis industry was massive. “In 2016, the cannabis did $6.6 billion,” said Valdez. “Companies spend anywhere from 26 percent to 39 percent of their annual revenue on marketing.”
Eyes wide open, Valdez did the math and realized that meant a $2.4 billion dollar opportunity for cannabis advertising per year that was being untapped. Sensing an opportunity, Valdez applied, and was accepted into the Canopy cannabis business accelerator program. “Canopy only deals with companies that don’t touch the plant,” he explained. “They take on eight companies per cohort, which they hold twice a year.”
Canopy provides initial seed funding and the participants go through “a Master’s program in running a cannabis business” for 16 weeks.
“Display advertising is simply the ads that appear on a website,” he said. “Content does not pay the bills. Advertising on a scale pays the bills. Whether it’s a banner ad, a display ad or a native ad, this is what any web platform needs to create revenue.”
Traffic Roots serves both sides of this equation, advertisers and publishers. The company currently has a base of 600 advertisers.
“We are a platform that connects buyers and seller, in this case, advertisers and publishers,” said Valdez.
Advertisers chose the parameters of where they want to see their ads and then Traffic Roots matches them with publishers. On the publisher-side, “All the publishers needs to do is put up a snippet of code on their sites. We upload the ads, seamlessly, and that’s all there is to it,” he said.
Advertisers can set the image and the link where the user goes and most importantly, the targeting.
“We give the advertisers the ability to market to a specific audience at scale,” said Valdez. “If you want to only place ads on sites with end-users, you can do that,” “If you want to only set your ads to other cannabis business operators, you can do that. If you want to target only California, or only Los Angeles, or even in specific zip codes, you can do that.”
It’s all done real time and through Traffic Roots technology. “There’s not a person making the matches,” he said. “Our program matches companies and publishers that meet each other’s criteria.”
There is a minimum deposit of $250 to join the network on the advertiser side, which pre-funds your initial campaign. There’s no monthly fee.
There are two main ways for buying advertising space. CPM (cost per thousand impressions) and CPC (cost per click). Valdez said that which of the two options is best depends on how specific you want your advertising campaign to be.
“The more defined and granular you get; then more costly the campaign will be,” he explained. “If you want to run an ad worldwide it’s less expensive than to target just one geographical area.”
Advertisers as a whole determine the market value of an ad space on a particular site through a bidding process. “That’s important because if someone says they want to pay 10 cents for an ad on a certain site, someone else can come along and say they’ll pay 15 cents. That establishes true market value for the ad space, which is a great thing for publishers because it assures that they are getting top-dollar for their ad space.”
On the publishing side, Traffic Roots takes a percentage of the profits. Traffic Roots pays out once a month, with a $250 minimum to be paid out.