Instacart Launches Self-Serve Advertising Platform

The ad update will allow brands to access online grocery retailer's fast-growing customer base.

Need to Know

  • The online delivery service will allow brands to pay for promoted results in user searches within the platform.
  • Instacart’s new feature has been tested by Procter & Gamble, Unilever and PepsiCo over the past few months.
  • New advertising capabilities bring Instacart up to speed with online retailers such as Amazon and Walmart, which allow brands to promote within search results on their own platforms.


Online grocery retailer Instacart, which has seen a surge in use during the coronavirus pandemic, has launched a new self-serve advertising feature allowing brands to pay for promoted search results.

The new advertising capability, which Instacart rolled out on Wednesday, will display featured products from brands using the self-serve ad platform. Marketplace ads, meanwhile, will comprise delivery promotions, banner ads, and coupons. Major brands such as PepsiCo, Procter & Gamble, and Unilever have already tested the feature.

In order to use Instacart’s advertising tool, brands or agencies simply need to set up an account on Instacart. They can then select individual items to promote and set a budget within the online grocery retailer’s platform. Instacart is also offering measurement and analytics tools, so advertisers can track progress and learn what type of campaigns work for them.

The new feature puts Instacart in the same league as other online retailers such as Amazon and Walmart, who allow individual brands and retailers to pay for promoted search results within their own respective platforms.

Walmart’s new self-serve advertising portal, which the retailer developed in-house, was unveiled in January. Like Instacart, it allows users to search and bid on ads that will appear on; the two retailers also have in common the fact that customers are already familiar with the brands sold on their platforms — Walmart through its offline, bricks-and-mortar presence, and Instacart through the fact that the 350 retailers it services, such as Costco and Loblaw’s are also well-known to shoppers.

Instacart has seen a boom in customer activity since COVID-19 lockdown measures led more consumers towards online grocery-buying. The company reported a 74% increase in shoppers, from 200,000 to 350,000 active shoppers per month, in April; at that time, the platform introduced a number of new features, including the option for consumers to select contact-free delivery, to accommodate a growing and changing customer base.