Instacart Advertising Guide



In the previous year, few categories benefited aside from online grocery and Instacart was one of them. And once instacart launched its advertising platform, which is a self-serving one, it enabled businesses to take advantage of the rise in customer demand.

So in this detailed guide, we will show you how to create, organize, and optimize your Instacart ads.

Here’s a brief outline of this guide:

  • Instacart ad types and ad inventory
  • Your campaign structuring
  • Available bidding option
  • Keyword organization
  • Stores, regions, and geography
  • Reporting and measurement

Instacart advertising offers both Instacart managed and self-serve ads, with the most popular option being the Featured Product ad self-serve option. That said, if you advertise on Walmart or Amazon you should be familiar with the structure of the Instacart ads.

Instacart Ad types and Ad Inventory

Featured Product Ads (Self-Serve): Search and Non-Search Placements

While Instacart offers more than one advertising option, their only self-serve option at the moment is the Featured Product ads. Just like Amazon’s sponsored product ads, Instacart’s Featured Products are shown with the featured tag on them.

These Featured Product ads are an excellent way for you to promote your offers by having them show in areas of high visibility across Instacart. These ads can appear in two main categories or classifications, which are: Search or Non-Search.

Search Featured Ads

For this classification of the category of Featured Product ads they appear in the search results, both within the search results as a shopper navigates down a page or before the searcher’s organic results for the particular search term.

That said, most customers will probably not scroll down if they are on a search page, as research shows that about 80% of all purchases are made from the top 1 to 3 products on the results page for a search term.

This makes search ads very powerful, as not only do they help amplify your brand’s visibility but also capture both new and old customers for the search terms your ad is showing for.

Non-Search Featured Ads

These non-search ads show up in various places across Instacart. But primarily whenever a customer is looking at products but hasn’t typed in a keyword to search they are likely to view non-search advertisements.

This advertisement type helps ensure a broader visibility spectrum for your offers across the Instacart marketplace and isn’t just restricted to specific search keywords.

Here are the 4 types of placements that you can expect your non-search ads to appear: your items, department, the home page, and item details.

Your Items

As a buyer purchases a product on Instacart, the offer will be placed in the customer’s Instacart’s “Your Items” section. The items will show in the shopper’s “Your Items Section” that’s located within the retailer’s page that the item was purchased at, as far as that retailer keeps that SKU.

When a featured ad appears in the “Your Items” section of a particular retailer’s page the goal is to ensure that your brand stays relevant with customers who have bought your products previously as this drives a higher possibility for ensuring brand loyalty and repeat purchases.

Home Page

Just like the Department/Aisle Featured Ads the homepage ads are visible to the customer as soon as they click into (navigate) to a particular retailer on Instacart.

Instacart Managed Advertising

For expert advertisers, Instacart offers access to delivery promotions, coupons, and hero banner ads. For now, these types of ads are available directly only via the Instacart team and they aren’t self-serving, however, that may change soon.\

If this is your preferred option for advertising with Instacart, a representative of the brand will be the best help for more details on how to proceed.

If you’re interested, your Instacart rep will be the best contact to provide more details.


When a retailer isn’t offering any coupons for a particular product through Instacart there’s an option to run a coupon directly. Coupons are great for products that tend to drive a huge amount of traffic otherwise such coupons may not be used.

Hero banner

A hero-banner ad runs in a department or aisle at the top of a page. These ads are shown at a fixed cost weekly.

Delivery Promotion

This offers free delivery after buyers pick a quantifiable amount of products.

Note: Be Careful of Product Images

Product images are given to Instacart from sellers directly, which means there is a chance of such visuals being out of date.

So if you discover that any of your visuals are outdated then you need to contact your rep at Instacart who will give you a form to fill out so you can update your images. This process can take up to 48 hours or more so it’s recommended that you do this as quickly as possible.




Your Campaign Structuring



Product Grouping

Your campaigns on Instacart have a lifetime budget. And keywords and products are put into ad groups in the campaign. It’s best practice to group your products in two ways: similarly-priced products or like products.

Like Products

It is recommended that you group products that share more than 70% of particular keywords. By doing so you can ensure that your keyword targeting is directed to add characteristics particular to the items within each group.

Similarly Priced Products

Besides grouping products that share a huge volume of keywords, it’s a wise move to group products together that are around a particular price range, as the cost per click (CPC) that’ll fit into a budget to get the right ROI directly relates to your product pricing.

When Should My Products be Put in the Same Campaign?

The benefit of putting all your products in one campaign versus running multiple campaigns is that with the second option you can pick a different budget for particular product groups.

Budget Profiles

There are two types of budgeting options available on Instacart:

Maximize Impressions

In this type of budgeting option, your budget will be used to maximize the share of impressions void of daily spend limitations or structure.

Paced Spending

The paced spending budgeting option is quite similar to the maximize impressions option but in this case, your budget is spaced out evenly throughout the campaign. This one needs an end date.

Most times it is recommended that you use the paced spending option rather than the maximize impressions one. This is because if you’re using paced spending you can effectively set an estimated daily budget for Instacart to use. This ultimately means that you avoid the possibility of wiping out your monthly budget early and this would result in you having no ads running in the time frame left.

Also as more retailers are coming on board to

Instacart and demand is fluctuating, the spend on keywords changes significantly each day without a change in the bid prices. So unless you intend to check your campaigns every day and that closely, you may experience certain days eating through a large portion of your monthly budget.



Available Bidding Options

Instacart offers a second price auctioning system. This means that whenever you win an auction your Cost Per Click will be $0.01 more than the next highest bidder. And the least bid you can set on the platform is $0.15.

The platform has two bid types:

  • Default CPC
  • Keyword Override

Keyword Override

When you launch a campaign you can include keywords that you want to particularly target. For every one of these keywords that you include, you can make always-on optimizations either via third-party services or yourself that learn with time to make sure you secure the most efficient bid price depending on your goals.

The Default CPC

This type of bid is used in bidding for all non-keyword traffic on the Instacart platform. These include:

  • Item details
  • Homepage
  • Departments
  • Your items – when a shopper has bought that product previously.

This bid is also used by Instacart for any new keyword that was automatically harvested and is classified as relevant to a retailer’s UPC s.

That said, if you’re using the platform’s native ads, it’s crucial to keep all you just read above in mind when you decide to change the default CPC bid.

It is recommended that you look at the keywords that are set to your default bid before you carry out any decrease or increase to make sure that you don’t decrease a bid that’s on high-performance keywords or boost a bid on poor performing keywords.


Keyword Organization

If you’re used to Amazon advertising, you may be aware that Instacart keywords differ in 3 primary ways:

  • It harvests keywords automatically
  • It supports matching keywords only
  • You can’t delete keywords and negative matching isn’t supported

Branded Keywords

You can use branded keywords in the same light as your company defense strategy, but it isn’t a requirement. There’s a thin line between brand defense and growth. So though you generally see the highest ROAS and lowest CPC on branded keywords to make sure your ad spend stays incremental, it’s best practice to allocate a meager portion (if at all) of your budget to these keywords.

Category Keywords

Category Keywords like “cheese” or “milk” is where the largest opportunity for Instacart growth lies. Because of the low volume of advertisers on Instacart, this category keywords can easily be won with a Cost Per Click that’s lower than what you would get on Amazon.

Also, if you are able to drive customers to purchase your item you can get the benefit of potential repeat purchases via your item section.

Competitor Keywords

Bidding and winning your competitor’s keywords is termed conquesting and this is most times used as a strategy to get into the market share of your competitors.

But this can be both ineffective and expensive. This is because your Cost Per Click for competitive keywords is always more than that for category keywords and you could also experience low conversion rates.

It’s recommended that you target competitor keywords if your item is frequently purchased because the lifetime value of a customer can aid in offsetting the high initial cost of the bid.



Stores and Regions


Instacart advertising offers its services only in the United States currently.


When you advertise on Instacart your ads will be placed in every store that sells your products. What this means is that:

  • You can’t choose to exclude or include specific stores
  • You don’t face any risk of placing ads in stores that your products won’t be sold.

There’s also no current reporting on the stores your ads are displayed on. However, there’s an exception to this and that’s if you have SKUs that only specific stores carry, for example, Walmart DKU or Costco.

In that case, you can know that every sale is coming from a particular retailer.

The benefit of this is that there’s no action required because Instacart adds new retailers to its platform.

The moment a new store is included in where your items are sold, your ads will automatically begin to start serving. However, it’s vital to state that this could increase your spending unexpectedly. This is why it’s recommended that you use the paced budget option and that you monitor all email alerts you get.

It does take some time for stores to update their inventory so if your item is newly listed, you should monitor Instacart to know when your offer gets put in the system.


Reporting and Measurement

Shoppers on Instacart usually full their carts all week long and check-out by the end of a week. Because of this, Instacart places a 14-day attribution window for their Featured Product advertisements. So it’s best practice to carry out analysis at the start of the week on the metrics of the preceding week (avoid looking at spend/sales values every day) to get the correct insight on performance.

Organic Sales and Total Sales

You must keep your eye on both your attributed and organic sales of all advertising platforms, and this is true for Instacart as well. Ensure that you reach out to your Instacart AE for the monthly total sales figures for your business on the platform.

As there’s a rise in the number of advertisers on the platform currently, it’s obvious to expect that organic sales will decline, irrespective of whether you advertise on Instacart. Because of this, look at the total sales metric instead to make sure that they are on the rise.

Basket Penetration

As Instacart grows rapidly, it’s a bit challenging to know if growth is stemming from its rising market share vs customer increase. The Basket Penetration metric can reveal the percentage of Instacart baskets that your items contain, which is a great proxy of your brand’s growth on Instacart. Keep in mind that the Basket Penetration metric is available just for businesses that spend more than $10,000 each quarter.

Reporting Tiers

Instacart works with a model that functions by giving you more access to reporting based on how much you spend on ads. If you spend $10,000 each quarter, you gain access to the tiered model.

The tier you belong to is dependent on the spend having to be a specific percentage of your total sales on Instacart. The means the tier you get placed in is based on your spend in the last quarter, and this applies for the subsequent quarter.



That’s it! Instacart offers a tremendous opportunity for advertisers and by following the recommendations and tips listed in this guide you can be certain to make the most of the platform.

If you have questions please leave us a comment below.


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