Instacart Ads

Introducing a New, Streamlined Way to Create Campaigns 



Oct 19, 2022

Today, Instacart released a new and streamlined way to create ad campaigns on Instacart — a framework which more closely aligns campaigns to the objective the advertiser wants to achieve. Since this changes how ad campaigns are created on Instacart, it represents a notable update to our self-service portal, Ads Manager. 

Instacart Ads, as a full-funnel advertising solution, provides several ways of running ad campaigns, each better suited for consumers at different stages of the consumer journey. So when you set up your ad campaigns you have a menu of different options to select from. These campaign tactics define things like which ad format, targeting method, and bidding optimization your campaign uses.

A display ad targeted at consumer behavior can work great for when you want to generate awareness among consumers who haven’t bought your brand before. But a sponsored product ad targeting consumers searching for ice cream likely reaches higher-intent consumers to better increase your sales.  

Because of these different opportunities to play a role at different stages of the consumer journey, ad campaigns can be optimized by the choice of tactics for different objectives. 

So we have released a new campaign creation process where you first select your objective — either reach, engage, or maximize sales. This initial choice informs the available options and recommendations made downstream in the campaign creation. And by minimizing the choices you have to make when creating campaigns this new framework streamlines the process. It also helps you to select the campaign tactics that are going to work best for the objective you select. 

Selecting different campaign objectives

Why are we introducing this new framework?

Lots of our talks with brand partners about advertising on Instacart centered on the goals for their ad campaigns. For some brands, growing their sales and market share of their core product line on Instacart was of the utmost importance. While others debuting a brand new product were more concerned about raising awareness and educating consumers about this new offering. 

From these discussions we’d come back with specific recommendations. Zeroing in on which ad format they should use and how they should target consumers, along with budget and bidding options. 

While a logical starting point used to be the different ad formats available — sponsored product, display, shoppable video, and so on — and how they could help the brand show up in a certain way to their target audiences with the right targeting method, we inevitably ended up translating those formats and their various options into tactics focused on achieving the goals — or, objectives — the brand had for that campaign.

With this upgrade to Ads Manager, we’ve factored those discussions into the campaign creation flow; by focusing on the objective first, we can better focus our brand partners on the applicable options and tactics, speeding up some of the decision process. This will help advertisers go live with an ad campaign faster and ultimately be more effective.

What objectives do we support?

We have identified three major objectives that encapsulate the goals of our brand partners when they advertise on Instacart — reach, engage, and maximize sales. To best achieve these we’ve selected a combination of campaign tactics for each. 

Reach. When you want to reach the right consumers to generate awareness. Imagine reaching consumers as they walk into their favorite retailer, when they haven’t even started on their shopping list yet. And because these campaigns utilize behavioral targeting, you can do things like focus on consumers who haven’t bought your brand before but frequently buy from your category.

Engage. When you want to interact with consumers and start to build the path to the sale. Think of the times you’ve been introduced to a product that pairs perfectly with what you’re shopping for. Like hearing about a new chocolate fudge sauce when you’re deciding between the vanilla or the butterscotch ice cream. Some of us would get very interested right about then and want to know more. Like if it comes in gallon jugs. Because these campaigns utilize keyword targeting and ad formats linked to your brand’s page on Instacart, they’re perfect for building up  inspiration and getting consumers searching for related keywords to engage with you.    

Maximize sales. Secure premium space on the digital shelf and get your products into carts. These campaigns are where the rubber meets the road, so to speak, and where many brands start when first advertising on Instacart. 

What does the new framework look like?

Although this change represents an upgrade to Ads Manager, the good news is if you’re already familiar with setting up ad campaigns the new flow isn’t all that different. The majority of the configuration of ad campaigns remains the same; we still have campaigns, ad groups, products, and keywords. You still define budgets, select ad formats, and budget pacing. And you still group the products being advertised into ad groups with unique bids, targeting, and creative assets. 

What has changed is a new focus on campaign objectives. 

Now, as the very first step to create an ad campaign through Ads Manager you select your objective. 

An image showing Ads Manager with the user creating a new campaign. They are prompted to select an objective either Reach Engage or Maximize sales

Ads Manager adapts the options available in the subsequent campaign creation steps to correspond to the objective you selected. This means recommending the best ad formats, targeting, and optimizations to achieve that objective. 

Let’s look at an example of how this works with our imaginary ice cream maker, Eureka Farms. They’re running a successful maximizing sales campaign targeting consumers who are searching for ice cream. 

But they also want to drive consideration among lower-intent consumers shopping from their favorite retailers on Instacart. They want to talk to consumers searching for related or adjacent keywords like ‘dairy’, ‘dessert’, and ‘popsicle’ so they create a new campaign and select the engage objective to interact with these consumers. 

From there, they decide between shoppable display or shoppable video to tell their brand story and pin their top ice cream flavors for easy add-to-carts should the consumer feel inspired to purchase. With format and targeting options tailored to their objective, they can focus on the most effective tactics and launch faster.

Each objective works like this in the new campaign creation process, with Ads Manager aligning campaign tactics to those best suited for the objective. But for those who want to take a bespoke approach, there’s the ‘Build your own’ objective. Selecting this tells Ads Manager to not make any recommendations on campaign tactics. Instead, you manually select every aspect of your new campaign from every available option. 

What’s next for Ads Manager?

This is the start of many planned updates that are laying a foundation for a future where all your campaigns are optimized to achieve your objectives and work in harmony to target consumers in all steps in their journey from discovery to purchase.  

We have plans to introduce a set of campaign tactics optimized to help brands acquire new consumers and incorporate objectives into the reporting and analytics you access. 

Talk with your Instacart representative for more details on the new framework for creating ad campaigns and to have any of your questions answered. And when you’re ready, create your first campaign in the new framework!



Instacart is the leading grocery technology company in North America, partnering with more than 1,400 national, regional, and local retail banners to deliver from more than 80,000 stores across more than 14,000 cities in North America. To read more Instacart posts, you can browse the company blog or search by keyword using the search bar at the top of the page.

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