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Instacart brings ad service to Canada

CPGs can now target ads to consumers who are actively shopping on the app
A hand holding up a cellphone against a backdrop of green vegetables with the Instacart app open

The online grocery shopping and delivery service Instacart has confirmed the launch of its ad business in Canada.

Instacart Ads offers CPG brands and their media agencies a chance to send sponsored product ads to consumers while they are actively shopping and looking to add items to their basket.

Instacart Ads provides a self-service portal, meaning brands can manage their sponsored content campaigns, set advertising goals, budgets and schedules, control content and manage sponsored products bids on a campaign level.

"We know how important it is for brands to have a platform with direct access to ad performance results and shopping insights to inform their campaigns in real-time,” said Ryan Mayward, vice-president of ad sales at Instacart, in a press release announcing the Canadian launch. “With our expansion to Canada, we're deepening our CPG brand relationships and offering even more brands the tools to help them inspire consumers and grow their businesses."

The move by Instacart is part of a larger trend by retailers to use first person consumer data to not just sell products, but to sell advertising for the marketers behind the products.

While Amazon was the pioneer—and remains the frontrunner in the space—more traditional retailers with quickly growing streams of consumer data from their own online sales, have similarly expanded their ad business. Walmart generated US$2.1 billion in advertising revenue last year, and Loblaw has made moves to launch and grow its advertising business fuelled by the data gathered from its popular PC Optimum loyalty program.

Instacart only launched its ad business in the U.S. in 2019 but it has made a number of moves since then to build-out the business, with Canada being its first market outside the U.S. to get the service. The Wall St. Journal reported Instacart generated US$300 million in ad sales in 2020 and was aiming for US$1 billion this year.

Instacart, which partners with many of Canada's top grocers and claims to reach 90% of all Canadians across every province, has already been working with CPG marketers including Danone, Unilever, and Purina to roll out Instacart Ads in Canada.

“One of the most significant benefits of Instacart is the breadth of data they are able to provide us in a self-serve format,” said Shannon Cross, senior manager, e-commerce, Nestlé Purina PetCare, in a press release. “Having access to customizable reports, SKU-level data at any time of the day has allowed us to make informed business decisions at a more granular level.”

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