Navigating Instacart Ads: Food and Beverage Brands

This article explores how Instacart ads can benefit food and beverage brands by increasing visibility, driving targeted advertising, and boosting sales. Learn about the best practices for creating effective Instacart ads, including how to know your target audience and highlight unique selling points.

Instacart is an online platform and app that enables consumers to order and receive grocery deliveries from a wide range of retailers across the United States. Instacart has partnerships with 900 grocery stores including popular brands like Albertsons, ALDI, Costco, CVS, Kroger, Loblaw, Publix, Sam’s Club, Sprouts, and Wegmans, among others. Customers can easily browse a diverse selection of products and add items to their virtual cart, select their preferred delivery window, and have their groceries delivered straight to their doorstep.

What are Instacart Ads? 

Instacart ads have evolved into a self-service advertising tool that enables brands to increase their visibility and reach potential customers through featured products and brands. Similar to other popular advertising platforms like Google and Amazon Ads, Instacart ads provide a targeted approach to reach customers who are already searching for products on the app. By leveraging features like sponsored products and brands, businesses can increase their visibility and attract more customers to their products.

How do Instacart Ads Work? 

Instacart ads work by using a cost-per-click (CPC) model or cost-per-mille (CPM). CPC means that advertisers pay only when a user clicks on their ad. CPM means advertisers pay for every 1,000 impressions. Advertisers can set their own budgets and bidding strategies for each campaign.

When a user searches for a product on the Instacart app, relevant ads will appear alongside the search results, featuring the product’s image, name, price, and promotional offers. Ads can also appear in personalized recommendations, based on a user’s previous shopping history and preferences. 

Advertisers can track the performance of their campaigns in real-time, adjusting their bids and budgets as needed to optimize their results. 

Types of Instacart Ads Formats

Instacart Ad Format Options. A guide to Instacart Ads.

Instacart offers four main types of advertising options for brands looking to increase their visibility and drive sales:

Sponsored Product

These ads appear in search results on the Instacart app and feature a product’s image, name, price, and promotional offers. Sponsored Products are designed to help brands attract more customers to their products by increasing visibility. This type of advertising is driven by targeting keywords and it’s the most common type of ads brands use on the platform. 

Shoppable Video Ad

These ads show your branded video alongside product boxes with add-to-cart functionality. Videos can be between 3 and 30 seconds. The objectives available for these campaigns include reach and engagement.

Shoppable Instacart Ad Example. A guide to instacart ads

Shoppable Display Ad

These ads show a personalized tagline with an image of your choice alongside product boxes with add-to-cart functionality. A good chance to get discovered next to complementary products.

Shoppable Display Ad Example. A guide to Instacart Ads

Display Ad

Display Ads are banner ads that appear on the home screen of the Instacart app, providing brands with a highly visible space to showcase their products. Display Ads are customizable and can include features such as videos or product carousels to provide customers with a more engaging experience. These ads link to a custom landing page and can target either keywords or behaviors (such as bought an item in a specific category within the last 90 days)

Choose your objective

Campaign Objective Options. A guide to instacart Ads.

There are 4 main objectives to choose from for ads:

  • Reach – be seen by the most potential customers via high visibility placements by targeting behaviors
  • Engage – prompt people to interact with your brand during their shopping journey using keywords
  • Maximize sales – use optimized bidding to capture sales in all aspects of the Instacart experience
  • Build your own – Mix and match ad types

Why are Instacart ads important for food and beverages brands?  

Instacart ads are increasingly important for food and beverage brands seeking to boost their visibility and drive sales. With millions of users across the United States relying on Instacart to get their groceries delivered, advertising on the platform can be an effective way to get your brand noticed and increase conversions. By targeting users with sponsored products, sponsored brands, or display ads, brands can increase their visibility in search results and gain exposure through personalized recommendations. This makes Instacart ads a valuable tool for reaching new customers and expanding your brand’s reach in the competitive food and beverage market.

Benefits of Instacart advertising

With Instacart’s growing user base and the platform’s expanding market share, advertising on Instacart can offer an array of benefits for food and beverage brands like: 

Increase visibility

Instacart ads provide food and beverage brands with the opportunity to gain increased visibility among millions of users who use the app to shop for groceries. By using targeted keywords and specific demographics, brands can create highly customized ads that appear prominently in search results. This allows brands to gain more exposure to potential customers, which can lead to increased brand awareness and stand out from competitors. By standing out from competitors, brands can generate more sales and revenue.

Targeted advertising

Another key benefit of Instacart ads is the ability to create highly targeted advertising campaigns. Brands can choose from a range of targeting options such as search terms, geographic locations, and demographics to reach their ideal audience. This targeted advertising approach can help brands generate more leads, increase engagement, and boost conversions. For example, a company that sells vegan products can target people who are interested in a vegan lifestyle, increasing the chances of converting them into customers.

Boosted sales

Instacart ads provide food and beverage brands with a powerful tool to boost sales and revenue. With increased visibility and targeted advertising, brands can improve their click-through rates, generate more leads, and increase engagement. This ultimately leads to more sales and revenue for the brand. By using Instacart ads, brands can capitalize on the vast audience of potential customers who use the app to shop for groceries and increase their customer base. As a result, Instacart ads can be a valuable investment for food and beverage brands looking to grow their business.

How to effectively advertise on Instacart 

To maximize the impact of your advertising campaigns on Instacart, it’s essential to implement the following best practices:

Know your target audience

It is vital to have a clear understanding of your target audience when creating Instacart ads. Start by identifying their demographics, interests, and preferences, such as age, gender, location, and shopping behaviors. Use this information to tailor your ad content and targeting options to meet their needs and interests. Instacart’s targeting options, such as search terms and geographic location, can also help you reach your desired audience.

Do your (Keyword) Research

If you do keyword research upfront, you will have a great sense of how people search for food and beverages including what adjective and synonyms they use. This will help you target all of the relevant searches for your brand.

Experiment with all the different levers

There are an infinite number of combinations of ad setups when you consider objectives, ad formats, budget, targeting options, taglines, bids, and products. Test the options you think will have the biggest impact such as ad format, products, and bids. Keep track of what changed and look back after some time (1-4 weeks) to see which aspects affect performance most.

Split Campaigns into Ad Groups by Category

By splitting up your campaigns into ad groups such as product lines you will get a better sense of which product categories are driving the best ROAS (Return on ad spend) allowing you to boost the high performers and decrease or pause spend for lower performers.

Create eye-catching visuals 

Eye-catching visuals are crucial to attracting the attention of Instacart users. Use high-quality images or videos that showcase your product in the best light possible. Select colors and fonts that align with your brand and are easy to read on mobile devices. Incorporate product carousels or videos to provide a more interactive and engaging experience for users.

Highlight unique selling points

To differentiate your brand from competitors, highlight your unique selling points in your taglines. Focus on what sets your product apart and why customers should choose it over other options. For example, if your product is sustainably sourced or gluten free, make sure to emphasize that in your ad copy.

Monitor and adjust your campaigns

Regularly monitoring and adjusting your campaigns is essential for optimizing your results. Keep track of your ad performance and adjust your bids and budgets to maximize your return on investment. Analyze your data to determine which keywords and targeting options are driving the most conversions and adjust your strategy accordingly. Continuously testing and optimizing your campaigns will help you get the best possible results from your Instacart ads.

Case Study

Hail Merry is a brand of delicious refrigerated dessert cups that are plant-based, grain-free and packed with healthy ingredients. It had been running Instacart Ads for almost a year when Superfood Digital started working on the account. 

After a full overhaul of the account including new ads, campaigns, and targeting strategies, Superfood Digital was able to help increase sales by 80%, including 66% new to brand sales, at a 3x ROAS.

Hail Merry logo Instacart ads

“Hail Merry has loved working with Stephen and the Superfood Digital team. Within two months of Stephen taking over our Instacart ads, we saw an 80% increase in our Instacart sales with a majority of those being new-to-brand sales! 
Not only did he work magic for us on Instacart, but he also tripled conversion and tripled ROAS on our Google Ads. He finessed our SEO for an increase in keyword ranking for our company and got us into the front page searches for our target keywords.”

Susan O’Brien
Founder, Hail Merry

Key Takeaways:

  • Instacart ads provide a powerful tool for food and beverage brands looking to increase their visibility, attract new customers, and drive sales on the platform. With millions of users across the country using the app to shop for groceries, Instacart offers a vast audience for advertisers to reach.
  • By using targeted advertising, eye-catching visuals, highlighting unique selling points, and continuously monitoring and adjusting campaigns, brands can maximize their return on investment and achieve their marketing goals. 
  • Instacart ads offer a valuable platform for food and beverage brands to increase their online presence, generate leads, and ultimately grow their business.