With the goal of learning more about people?s cannabis-consumption patterns, professors and students from Dartmouth College?s Geisel School of Medicine in New Hampshire surveyed nearly 3,000 people on a wide range of marijuana-consumption-related topics.
In order to have a statistically relevant study, the researchers needed a representative pool of cannabis users from across the country?not an easy challenge, especially considering the fact that marijuana is still against the law in the majority of the nation.
The researchers looked no further than Facebook?s unique ad platform, where creating an ad and targeting a niche audience, like pot smokers, is just a click away. With some basic prior experience with Facebook ads, the team was able to quickly set-up a campaign, choose an audience, select a budget and create a set of ads, which linked to an online survey they created using Qualtrics.
At a time when marijuana is gaining acceptance as both a medical and legally controlled substance across more and more states, there is a greater need than ever for both quantitative and qualitative research into the changing attitudes and usage patterns among consumers. However, Facebook and other popular social networks are still grappling with their user and advertising policies promoting content related to the controversial herb.
For the researchers, it wasn?t exactly easy rolling from the outset. The ads were initially rejected by Facebook due to their cannabis-related content. After establishing their credentials and explaining the study, the campaign was quickly approved by Facebook and began appearing on both desktop and mobile devices.
Figure 1: One of the better-performing Facebook ads that were used to recruit participants in the Dartmouth study.
It didn?t take the researchers long to see results. In fact, Dustin Lee?a postdoctoral fellow who oversaw the study, along with Ben Crosier and Alan Budney?explained that using Facebook as a recruiting channel took a fracti...