Case Study

How Magnitude of Change and Cannabis Decoded partnered to inform youth and their parents about the impacts of using cannabis.

Our Impact
Cannabis Decoded

Client Background

Cannabis Decoded is a Youth Marijuana Education Initiative from Monterey County Behavioral Health. This initiative was launched in partnership with the San Mateo County Youth Commission to educate youth and young adults about the facts on cannabis use.

Cannabis Decoded provides reliable, factual information so that young people have the tools they need to make informed decisions that impact their health and futures.

Client Challenge

The use of marijuana before age 25 may have an impact on brain development. Cannabis Decoded observed that youth in age ranges 14-16 and 17-25 had misconceptions about the use of cannabis and its potential health, legal, and social consequences.

Cannabis Decoded needed inform youth within San Mateo and Monterey counties about the impacts of cannabis usage. It decided to run an innovative ad campaign, creating a bridge to the life-saving information on its website.

Since cannabis is a highly regulated industry, Cannabis Decoded needed an experienced partner who could guide them through the regulations and intricacies of messaging within regulated parameters.

The Plan

Campaign Overview


  • Health Belief Model: Explain and predict individual changes in health behaviors.
  • Social Norms Theory: Our behavior is influenced by misperceptions of how our peers behave and think.
  • Social Physics: Analyze what we are really doing, rather than what we think we are doing. We apply this concept to human behavior in analyzing how ideas and information, data points, similar to energy, move around.
  • ORION allows us to see communication influence on behavior combining traditional metrics, such as message reach and awareness, with newer, advanced measures of social interaction.
  • Track and predict whether a communication campaign can bring about a real social change through our team and our analytical capabilities.

Channel Explanations

  • A Gamified High Impact Unit is an interactive advertising format designed to engage users through game-like experiences. These units are designed to capture attention and create a memorable impression. They often incorporate elements of play, challenges, and rewards to encourage user interaction and engagement.
  • Haptic Shake Me Ad Units are a unique, innovative, and exciting form of rich media. The user shakes their mobile device to be directed to a call-to-action. Haptic feedback refers to using the sense of touch in a user interface design to provide information to an end-user. In the context of an ad, it can vibrate the user’s device when interacted with, usually by shaking the device.
  • Programmatic Audio can include music streaming services (such as Pandora and Spotify), digital radio stations (Sirius XM), and podcasts. 86% of 12 to 34-year-olds consume audio content via digital audio. These are audio based ads that play at the beginning, middle or end of audio-based programming.
  • Instagram Stories are vertical photos or videos, up to 15 seconds, that disappear after 24 hours after posting. Instead of being displayed in the feed, they’re displayed at the top of an active user’s app when they’re logged in, and are tapped through to view. 90% of youth today utilize social media.
Drive awareness of as a trusted resource for cannabis information for youth and parents
Awareness, Behavior Change
Click-Through Rate, Listen-Through Rate, Video Completion Rate
Monterey and San Mateo Counties
  • Primary: Ages 14-16
  • Secondary: Ages 17-25
  • Tertiary: Parents 25+
Gamified High Impact Unit
Programmatic Audio
Rich Media
Performance Display
Paid Search
Instagram Stories


Magnitude of Change built and executed a custom media plan to meet the needs of Cannabis Decoded to address misinformation on cannabis use by youth, with high levels of frequency, multiple touch points, and multiple channels throughout the user’s journey in the target demographic and geographic location.

The campaign utilized ORION, Magnitude of Change’s proprietary programmatic platform created specifically for purpose-driven organizations and government and adjacent agencies.

Cannabis is a highly regulated industry that has advertising limitations, even regarding preventative measures. MoC used their experience managing hundreds of campaigns that require a comprehensive device graph, strategic publisher relationships, and additional compliance standards.


Magnitude of Change and Cannabis Decoded ran a survey study with a sample population who had seen the ads to understand the effectiveness of digital intervention in influencing behavioral change amongst youth:

  • Usage of cannabis declined by 34% among youth ages 14-25
  • There was a 20% increase among teens who said they’d warn their friends about the implications and harms of Cannabis
  • 75% of those 14-25 who were surveyed, after seeing ads and learning more through Cannabis Decoded, said they were better informed about the risks of cannabis than before


Exceeded engagement goal by more than 3x

The campaign utilized a diverse array of channels like Instagram Stories, Paid Search, Display Ads, and YouTube, each with its unique advantages. This enabled Cannabis Decoded to cast a wide, yet targeted, net across different demographics and user behaviors, ensuring the message resonated profoundly with teens and parents.

The amalgamation of visual impact, interactivity, precise targeting, and high-intent visibility in Magnitude of Change’s media execution created heightened engagement, which allowed the campaign to surpass client expectations and achieve engagement levels three times above the set goal. This multifaceted approach not only amplified reach and awareness, but also catalyzed informed conversations about cannabis use, contributing to the continual success of the initiative.

Cannabis Decoded renewed for the remainder of 2023 with Magnitude of Change, deepening the multi-year partnership.

Exceeded engagement goal by more than 3x
Click Through Rate
Listen-Through Rate
Video Completion Rate
Dig Deeper

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