How to Advertise With Instacart Featured Products

During recent years, Instacart has emerged as a force of change in the eGrocery industry. For example, in 2020, Instacart generated $35 billion in sales, according to data collected by Business of Apps. In addition, Instacart’s 9.6 million active users represent a major asset for search marketers and product retailers to capitalize on increases in online grocery purchases. To remain competitive in this growing industry, retailers emphasize Instacart Featured Products advertising as a significant source of sales revenue.

Since Instacart alone hosted more than 50% of online grocery purchases in 2020, their advertising provides market retailers a chance to put their brand on the front lines of a changing industry.

In this guide to Instacart featured products, we discuss:

  • Where featured products appear
  • Campaign goals for featured products ads
  • How to budget for Instacart advertising
  • Tips to optimize ads and measure performance

For a complete guide covering more than just Featured Products, visit our Comprehensive Guide to Instacart Advertising.

Where Instacart Featured Products Appear

To optimize ads for Instacart featured products, retailers should consider where these ads can appear, which changes their reach.

Search: Results, Product Detail Pages

When customers search for keywords, their results display relevant featured products in the form of an ad banner. This banner can appear on several Instacart pages.

Search Results

Using the same principles as SEO in search marketing on Google, the most Instacart purchases come from products listed early in a customer’s search results. By purchasing a featured product ad, retailers can make their products more relevant in the results:

Instacart featured products commonly appear in the search results.

Item Detail Pages

When customers click on one of these featured products, they can also view additional items by scrolling down the product details pages. For example, by clicking the first result above, “Coca-Cola Soda,” customers receive additional featured product ads:

Another common place for Instacart featured products to appear are in item detail pages.

Browse: Homepage, Department Pages

Even without typing in search terms, customers can be exposed to featured products through landing pages for stores and departments.

Homepage

The homepage displays recommendations in the form of shopping suggestions. For example, on a customer’s account, it will look something like this:

The homepage can also show Instacart featured products.

Department Pages

Customers can also click on a department such as “produce” or “dairy & eggs” to be redirected to a page full of suggestions in that department, including featured product ads:

Department pages feature Instacart featured products as well.

Personalized: Buy It Again, Cart Checkout Pages

Instacart encourages customers to repeat past purchases and sends them featured product ads based on their activity. These appear on the “Buy It Again” and “Cart Checkout” pages.

Buy It Again Pages

The “buy it again” page reminds customers of their past orders. This page saves customers time and increases brand loyalty for products they have already purchased.

The "Buy it Again" page allows you to quickly access and purchase items you have bought in the past, without having to search for them.

Cart Checkout Pages

Additionally, on the checkout page, featured product ads suggest items based on the current cart to entice customers to add them before completing the purchase:

Instacart featured products can also appear in the cart checkout page.

Instacart Featured Products Advertising Goals

Instacart provides retailers with insight into an ad’s performance. These insights help marketing teams refine their ads in terms of sales growth, returns, and visibility.

Sales Growth

Instacart measures the sales attributed to a specific ad over a fixed period. This metric is their estimate for how much an ad is worth to your business.

ROAS

ROAS compares an ad’s financial performance to your investment in it. It is often used with the CTR for each ad to measure its value.

ROAS is one of the key metrics that can help you gauge the success of your Instacart featured products.

Source: Instacart

CTR

The clickthrough rate or CTR represents the percentage of ads that customers interacted with. Thus, CTR gives market retailers a sense of their ads’ engagement level. Combined with ROAS, CTR is a primary metric for measuring the financial performance of a specific ad.

CTR is another key metric for Instacart featured products.

Source: Instacart

Total Category Share

A retailer’s category share compares their sales to the total market value of their product category. This percentage allows you to view your products’ impact on the market from a more global perspective. Note that this analytic is only available for Instacart Premium customers.

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Source: Instacart

Category Visibility and Awareness

Category visibility uses impressions to measure how often your ad appeared on Instacart pages. This metric allows retailers to estimate their ad’s impact within their product category.

Instacart Featured Products Campaign Structure

Successful featured product ads on Instacart take advantage of the app’s organizational structure. They use campaign grouping and product grouping to optimize the ad budget for keywords and categories.

Campaign Grouping

Campaigns can be grouped on Instacart using a tiered structure similar to Amazon’s marketing. Budget for each campaign based on the value of its category. This will make your marketing schedule easier to optimize by allowing you to make changes for the whole campaign rather than for each ad.

Product Grouping

There are three primary ways to group products in Instacart ad campaigns: like products, similarly priced products, and individual products. Each has advantages related to how grouping affects your ability to target keywords within your campaign.

Like Products

Like products share keywords. Customers searching for related products may search for that word, such as “bread,” or a related term like “sliced bread.” Since Instacart only sends ads to exact keyword matches, you should group products by these similarities. This allows your featured product ads to appear in relevant search results for a customer looking for bread, regardless of the exact keywords they type.

Like Products

Similarly Priced Products

Products within a close price range can also be strategically grouped together. Making decisions for the group based on its value saves time. It also prevents mistakes when comparing the cost-per-click of the ad to the value of the product.

Individual Products

Products can also be grouped individually. This could be strategic if they target specific keywords that are not shared by other groups or are priced uniquely in their category.

Budgeting for Instacart Featured Products

Instacart offers multiple ways to create budget profiles. Paced spending and max impressions represent the two leading options retailers can use to strategize their campaign budget.

What is Paced Spending?

Paced spending sets a daily spending limit. It requires a timeframe for the ad campaign and a budget plan spaced out by spending intervals. This option prevents an advertising budget from running out before the next interval.

Max Impressions

The max impressions option releases these daily limits. It allows Instacart to maximize impressions on ads using the total allotted budget. However, this means that with no spending structure, the entire budget could be depleted in days, leaving a campaign without ads until the advertiser can replenish the budget.

Instacart Featured Products Keyword Optimization

Instacart tracks multiple types of keywords. Understanding the differences can help strategize a featured products ad campaign.

Default Keywords

When customers type in a search term, Instacart applies your bids on default keywords to display your featured product ads. For instance, a default bid on keywords in a product category such as “sliced bread” or “whole milk” means that Instacart will display a featured product when this term is searched. They will then charge you the default bid when customers click on the ad.

Default Keywords

Keyword Overrides

Keywords overrides manually optimize keywords based on their value to specific ad groups. By targeting searches using groups of related words, overrides can optimize the value of a marketing budget by comparing it to the CPC of ads in that category.


Keyword overrides should be used for the keywords that matter most to a retailer’s ROI. These bids tend to be higher, as well as more specific. On Instacart’s performance dashboard, keyword performance, including their suggested maximum bid and your current override for each word, will look like this:

Keyword Overrides

Category Keywords

In addition to separating keywords by bids, larger categories like “milk” and bread” offer retailers opportunities to bid on broad groups of keywords.

Category Keywords

Branded Keywords

Branded keywords allow retailers to use customer loyalty to their advantage. For example, they can bid on their own brands to place featured product ads in specific search results.

Branded Keywords

Competitor Keywords

Brands can bid on a competitor’s keywords as well. This strategy can steal a competing brand’s ad space by taking advantage of its brand recognition. For example, consider search results for “nature valley,” a popular brand of healthy snacks. The relatively unknown brand “No Cow,” rather than bid on its own brand name, bid on the keywords “nature valley” to appear in these results:

Competitor Keywords

The cost-per-click of bidding on a competitor’s keywords tends to run high. However, it can be advantageous for lesser-known brands.

Measuring Performance with Instacart Featured Products

Retailers measure their ad performance differently. By emphasizing different KPIs, they may optimize their keyword strategies for their specific goals.

Instacart features a unique, real-time keyword rating system that helps businesses elaborate on their KPIs by evaluating each keyword separately. It works on a color-coding system where each color represents the probability that your current bids will win placements on your bidding words.

Green – These keywords have a high probability of winning at least 50% of ad placements at your current bid.

Yellow – This tier indicates a 25% probability of winning.

Red – Keywords listed as red show a nonexistent probability of any ads placing compared to your competitors.

Keyword Rating System

Using these estimates of the percentage of winnable placements at the current bid in each product category, retailers can adjust their sales targets and budgets accordingly.

On Instacart, a winning bid is not always the most expensive maximum amount. Instead, it is the most optimized bid based on this competitive keyword metric compared to your competitors’ spending in your ad category.

Getting Started with Instacart Featured Products

With Instacart leading the way in grocery delivery services, now is the ideal time to establish visibility for your products and brand on this growing platform. If you’d like to learn more about Instacart Advertising, feel free to reach out directly, or check out one of our many guides related to Instacart Advertising.

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Author

Zach Llewelyn

Zach Llewelyn

Zach holds a degree in Technology Information Management from the University of California Santa Cruz. He moved from a post-collegiate career in finance to digital marketing where he has developed a passion for paid search. Starting with the retail giant Amazon, Zach has grown his knowledge-base to include various up-and-coming retail platforms. Despite working in such an analytical discipline, Zach’s never too serious and loves a good joke.

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