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Should Instacart be in your Retail Media Mix?

By Colleen Mahoney, Sr. Media Manager, MPG OmniCommerce


Instacart, a leading player that turned grocery shopping on its head in the pre-pandemic world, continues to gain popularity with CPG brands today.



As one of the largest omnichannel eCommerce platforms out there, it’s partnering with over 5,500 brands – brands that are looking to connect directly at point of purchase – with a highly engaged user base of 600,000 shoppers. Yet many brands still ask, “Does it really need to be part of my retail media and marketing mix? Why invest ad dollars into Instacart, when our items are listed for free through our retailer partners?”


Here’s why. Brands have a first-mover advantage on the Instacart platform. It’s a race to win your space in a new shopper’s basket before your competition -- because we know that by a customer's 10th order, 25% of all conversions on Instacart are from the 'your items' aisle made up of products a customer has purchased in the past. And at the same time, 20-30% of the basket comes from browsing recommendations – another clear opportunity for brands to capture consideration and trial on the platform. Amplifying your brand's visibility on Instacart through paid advertising tactics allows you to do just that.


So YES! You want to see if incorporating Instacart into a multi-channel marketing approach makes sense for your brand. We know from our work with clients that the platform can be both effective and cost-effective, letting you tap into one advertising network to connect directly with shoppers across multiple retailers. Costs will vary depending on your brand’s goals, target audiences, and competitive set. For example, new products may need a more robust budget than established brands to push for reach. But Instacart does have the power to drive strong incremental lift and category growth – IF you have the right omnichannel strategy.


So how do you win the Instacart Digital Shelf?

  • First -- Recognize that a one-size-fits-all strategy doesn’t work here. Be sure to tailor your approach to promoting your products in a way that takes full advantage of Instacart’s platform offerings at each stage of the marketing funnel.

  • Understand that Sponsored Search is the foundation. This pay-per-click live auction model allows you to bid on relevant, high-converting keywords to ensure your products appear at the top of search results, allowing you to secure premier placements on the digital shelf as you would aim for in the brick-and-mortar aisles. Make sure you understand how to maximize this tactic, which can be monitored and optimized in real-time or result in wasted spend if not managed properly.

  • Then consider Featured Display. Feature your products or portfolio in search results, specific aisles or categories, or during check-out. This increases your visibility to potential customers throughout their entire shopping journey. Display ads also allow for audience targeting, remarketing, loyalty-building and more!

  • Also think about Shoppable Video Display, an ad placement now available on-site right alongside instant ad-to-cart item functionality. Shoppable video is a great way to further amplify your brand awareness and product benefits with short, engaging video ads.

    • And of course, don’t forget other core advertising opportunities, like Instacart-centric coupons and promotions, if promoting consideration and trial is at the forefront of your goals.

  • Finally, ensure that your KPIs are the right ones. These can be very different depending on if your focus is on the new shopper or returning shopper.

When it comes to winning on this digital shelf, the gold lies in getting into a new shopper’s online basket before your competition. A cohesive marketing strategy on the platform will help you get there. If you’d like to connect and talk about how to take your brand’s Instacart game to the next level, get in touch!


For more insights, reach out to Colleen at colleen.mahoney@mpgllc.com.



As a leading end-to-end, strategy & services omnichannel commerce agency, MPG is passionate about sharing best practices and charting the best PATH FORWARD for brands in the fast-changing omnichannel environment.


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