Instacart’s Explosive Growth Means Opportunity for Progressive Marketers

When the first wave of COVID-19 shelter-in-place orders went into effect across the U.S. in early 2020, Instacart quickly adapted to meet consumer needs and became an essential part of daily life for many. With the ability to place online grocery orders from their local stores—and have them delivered contactless to their homes—Instacart resolved an immediate challenge for consumers. In the first half of 2020, Instacart saw a 500 percent increase in order volume and a 35 percent increase in average basket size.

Through this exponential growth, Instacart has secured partnerships with over 350 grocery chains across 25,000 stores in over 500 cities in the United States and Canada—and it continues to grow by launching its own advertising platform.

For marketers, Instacart’s advertising platform means insight into a vast amount of purchasing data and targeting capabilities. As one of the first agencies to implement this advertising platform for clients, Mindstream Media Group has the insider information to help you determine if your brand should be taking advantage of Instacart’s benefits.

Basics of Instacart

Instacart is one of the largest, most widely available grocery delivery services across the United States. The delivery app partners with most supermarkets, local specialty shops and even pharmacies in the user’s proximity. Shoppers create a virtual shopping cart, filling it with grocery foods and household goods, which is then fulfilled and delivered to their home by a “personal shopper.”

Instacart was founded primarily in grocery services and partnership stores; however, as consumers continue to adopt and depend upon on-demand “personal shopping,” Instacart has branched out into non-food entities, creating connections with and access to personal everyday goods for consumers, like beauty, home and office products.

Instacart Ads Platform

During mid-year 2020, Instacart created a by-invite-only self-service advertising platform for brands to better reach their target audience. Via this ad portal, marketers can manage Featured Product campaigns that appear across the Instacart marketplace. These campaigns function similarly to paid search, leveraging user keyword and phrase searches to identify potential in-market customers. The platform then holds a bidding auction for advertisers under the payment terms of a cost-per-click model. The best part? No minimum ad spend required.

Source:  Instacart

How Brands Can Benefit from Instacart

Brands utilizing Instacart’s platform can benefit in multiple ways, like leveraging the partnership of an experienced agency partner, getting real-time performance data and arguably the most important—driving sales growth.

Leverage Agency Expertise

Mindstream Media Group has been granted an Instacart Ads license, which enables our clients to be at the forefront of an extremely high-demand and cost-effective form of advertising for consumer packaged goods (CPG).

Valuable (and Timely) Insights

Brands in the CPG category find the platform’s capabilities especially valuable and even critical as it enables real-time performance insight into advertising efforts’ impact to sales in the form of platform-reported return on ad spend (ROAS). Too often, brands are dependent on retailer-reported weekly—or worse, monthly—sales summaries, which must then be extracted or sent individually from each point-of-sale entity. This creates a lag in assessing the effect of paid media support on the lift in overall sales, making it even more difficult to quantify the rate of return relative to campaign spend.

A real-time performance dashboard is assigned to each brand account showcasing direct response campaign metrics like Impressions served, Clicks, associated Click-through Rate, relative Spend and ROAS. This view allows media managers to keep an eye on performance and delivery trends to assess the overall market landscape and track return.

Source: Instacart

Summary tables of each campaign Ad Group present a detailed breakdown of investment, overall sales volume and revenue generated respectively. Clicking into each Ad Group drills into the specific user searched keywords and/or phrases that triggered activity against each product category.

Source: Instacart

A Recommendations dashboard outlines where opportunity lies for media managers to bid up on specific user search queries that are trending related to the brand’s campaign Ad Groups. Although this is a useful tool, it is very important to evaluate each recommendation relative to existing Ad Group performance. Suggested Bids are typically much higher than what your current bid is clearing at, meaning that increasing your bid may actually bring down your ROAS!

Source: Instacart

Capture Sales

Instacart users have high average order values and frequently make repeat purchases, which presents brands with a favorable environment for capturing immediate sales. On average, customers conduct 20 searches per order, of which more than half result in an addition to the shopping cart, leading to a purchase. Thus, it is critical for brands to engage users often by queueing up all available products and inventory, and by bidding smartly on Featured Product campaigns.

Source: Instacart

Advertising Goals Supported by Instacart

The primary advertising goal supported by Instacart is sales. Brands can reach users in the shopping environment as they are curating their orders for immediate purchase. Keyword targeting and the pay-per-click auction model tailor the Instacart Ads platform as a ROAS solution for advertisers.

For example, Mindstream Media Group’s current Instacart campaigns for a CPG client consistently return 3.5 average ROAS and have even strategically and successfully effected 5.4 ROAS during pinpointed product pushes.

Consideration is the secondary goal, after sales. Keyword targeting allows brands to position themselves among similar categories and competitors that the consumer is actively seeking.

Types of Clients Best Suited for Instacart

While Instacart started out as primarily a CPG space, it continues to expand its partnerships with other retail category types and product goods such as Bed Bath & Beyond, Sephora, Best Buy and many others. The platform will undoubtedly continue to grow as consumer demand for convenience remains a top priority.

Source: Instacart

Whether you’re just getting started in ecommerce or are an experienced brand looking to accelerate growth, you could benefit from the help of an experienced marketing partner like Mindstream Media Group. Please reach out to start a conversation.

Read more about client growth in the CPG category: [Case Study]: Redefining CPG Media Mix for Immediate Growth

Learn about recent campaign success in Shopper Marketing: [Video]: Accelerating Sales With Shopper Marketing



Meet the Mindstreamer – Fabio Ramos

A long-time veteran of the agency (literally since it was formed), Fabio Ramos is a steward of clients and relationships. As VP, Business Development he’s responsible for fostering new business, developing agency partnerships and overseeing a few key accounts. (Catch his chat with GMAC’s Senior Director of Strategic Marketing about the success our partnership has driven for their organization here.)

Ten years ago, Fabio and his wife moved from Brazil to build a life in San Diego. Although they left their family, friends and a piece of their hearts in their home country, they do have the opportunity to travel back and forth frequently. Fabio says, “We love the city and what it offers, especially the awesome California cuisine and great weather and waves!” It’s no surprise that Fabio’s hobbies include surfing, music, food and wine. He also enjoys family time with his children, Luca (10) and Sofia (3).


What Fabio likes best about his job is, “the possibility to make clients smile through good work, performance and solid relationships.” Communication plays a big role in that. He shares, “I have encountered many different challenges throughout my career. I can say with confidence most issues were due to (mis)communication, and these issues and challenges were also overcome through communication, so to me communication is key – words can build or destroy relationships, so I always try to use them wisely.”

Originally attracted to marketing through the creative side (commercials, slogans, jingles, etc.), Fabio is astounded by the power of digital and the ways in which it can be harnessed as a vehicle for creativity. The media landscape has seen a lot of changes over the years and is accelerating even more rapidly now. A few of Fabio’s favorites for staying on top of developments in the industry are AdAge, AdExchange and Marketing Brew. In fact, his advice for anyone wanting to pursue a career in marketing/advertising is to “learn to unlearn, and re-learn, over and over again.”

Fabio notes, “I started in the pre-smartphone times, and the world has changed so much since then. The velocity on how technology and the world is changing is impressive to say the least. Adaptation is key. The challenges that technology can bridge and enhance people’s lives is amazing.”


When it comes to long-term changes, Fabio points to the “grand dilemma” of personalization vs. privacy.  “On one side people want personalized, relevant content in their lives; on the other hand, privacy. Navigating through this dilemma is the main challenge for the media landscape, the way I see it.”

His plans for the future? “[I’m] excited to see how the world is going to change over the next decade, and to watch my children grow. My motto is work hard and live life to the fullest – not losing sight of what matters most and trying to enjoy every single day whether finding purpose in the work we do or spending time with loved ones. Carpe Diem!” We couldn’t agree more, Fabio!

An enormous part of what makes Mindstream Media Group successful is the collective talent and collaboration of its employees across the country. While we as an agency love to share stories about client successes, industry news and product updates on our MMG Blog, we also want to feature the actual people behind the work we are doing to grow client business.

Our recent video series, Fast-Forward the Conversation, discusses the HOW behind supporting client growth through media strategy, with topics like shopper marketing, franchise work, QSR challenges, agency partnerships and more.

We’re also now featuring a Mindstreamer (as we like to call ourselves) periodically to share their stories and celebrate the diverse people, backgrounds, interests and qualities that make us unique.

A Look Under the Hood, Amazon’s DSP

As the third-largest ad seller in the country, Amazon has secured its stronghold in the advertising landscape. With its millions of products available for consumers to peruse, research and purchase, it has become the go-to source for a great deal and quick delivery time. In a similar way, Amazon has also become a valuable resource for advertisers with its DSP – a programmatic advertising platform with many benefits for those who have the privilege, and expertise, to access it.

We sat down with our own Amazon Certified Programmatic Traders for a brief Q and A session to cover some of the basics of Amazon DSP.

1. What is the Amazon DSP?

Amazon DSP is a demand-side platform that enables advertisers to programmatically buy display, audio and video ads at scale. Mindstream Media Group uses this DSP along with others to execute successful client campaigns.

2. Can ads be placed outside of Amazon when using Amazon DSP?

Yes, ads can be placed outside of Amazon through the Amazon DSP. Audiences can be reached on third-party websites and apps, and through other exchanges like AppNexus, OpenX, etc.

3. What are the benefits of using Amazon DSP?

Advertisers are able to leverage Amazon’s exclusive, first-party shopper (in-market) audience to target potential customers and track product purchases/subscriptions. This access to this first-party data is especially valuable as third-party cookies face elimination.

Source:  Amazon

Another benefit of using the Amazon DSP is that advertisers have access to high-quality, guaranteed inventory across premium publications like A&E, Hulu, Forbes, CBS and FOX. Brand-safe environments like these uphold quality standards to ensure ads do not appear next to inappropriate content.

The platform also provides granular conversion and Amazon Standard Identification Number (ASIN) tracking. This allows performance to be measured at the individual product level for maximum transparency to influence optimization strategies.

4. What are the requirements to use Amazon DSP?

Amazon DSP can be used by advertisers regardless of whether they sell products on Amazon. As for the minimum spend requirement, the threshold may vary based on service option and country, but a minimum spend of $35,000 is typically required.

5. What advertising goals does Amazon DSP help support?

Amazon DSP can be used to support a variety of advertising goals including brand awareness, consideration, driving sales and increasing customer loyalty.

Common KPIs unique to Amazon are CPDPV (Cost per Detailed Page View) and Amazon ROAS (Return on Ad Spend).

6. Who can use Amazon DSP?

Although selling products on Amazon is not required, brands that do can utilize all of the features available for a more complete picture to track product sales, ROAS and leverage valuable shopper data. Because of its extensive reach, Amazon DSP is best suited for advertisers who want to programmatically buy advertising at scale.

7. What are the advantages of having an agency partner manage Amazon DSP?

By using an agency partner to manage Amazon DSP, brands benefit from enhanced visibility, elevated campaign learnings and granular conversion reporting.

Using an agency like Mindstream Media Group to manage Amazon DSP campaigns provides deeper insight and recommendations to advertisers. Our expertise within the platform has helped clients optimize their advertising investment and better understand the nuance between audience and media types, and more.

8. What kind of performance data is available when using Amazon DSP?

Performance data such as impressions, clicks, product page views, ROAS and more are available inside Amazon DSP. Brands get performance visibility down to the product level to gain insight and help improve future campaigns. Having an agency partner with certified traders can help advertisers take full advantage of the platform’s capabilities.

Source:  Amazon

9. How are ads created?

Advertisers can use their own custom ads or quickly produce creative options using Amazon templates and creative builder platform.

Source:  Amazon

10. How can brands get started with Amazon DSP?

Mindstream Media Group’s Amazon Certified Programmatic Traders can help your brand maximize ROAS with complete campaign transparency and insight into optimizations and reporting.  Contact us today to determine if Amazon DSP is right for you.

Meet the Mindstreamer – Marti Janson, CCO

To commemorate International Women’s Day, Mindstream Media Group is celebrating women’s achievement by shining the spotlight on our very own Marti Janson, Chief Client Officer.

Marti provides the leadership, management and vision necessary for our team members to consistently remain ahead of the needs of our clients. She oversees media operations, media buying, account services and strategy teams and arms them with the proper tools and resources to provide agency clients with omnichannel media strategy and implementation. Marti also directs the IT and analytics teams to ensure our technology is assembled with scale and perspective, enabling the use of data to find the insights and opportunities to help drive better results for our clients.

Based in the agency’s St. Louis office, Marti has been in a leadership role for fourteen years, but her experience dates back 28 years. In true agency fashion with the constantly evolving landscape, she’s worked through eight different mergers and acquisitions. Having started her career making copies of print ads and sending tear sheets to clients, she worked diligently to develop her career, which led to an Account Executive role two years later, then progressed to Account Manager and Account Director.

Marti has worked with some client accounts for up to for 17 years and reflects, “My career has been focused on accounts and building relationships with clients. I have been a VP of Accounts and Chief Operating Officer and have filled the role of Chief Client Officer for the last year.”

To reinforce her client focus, Marti says what excites her most about her job is working as a team to provide results for our clients. “For me, it is that collaboration and brainstorming of ideas, playing off each other’s strengths and presenting a solid recommendation to the client and seeing those results exceed the client’s goals, that’s exciting.”

A few years out of college, Marti was inspired by working with an all-female leadership team. “I was fortunate to have this experience right out of college, because at the time in the early 90s, this wasn’t common. The remainder of my career transitioned to organizations that were primarily male-led organizations. I feel what I learned in those first few years from those women really helped shape me as a leader. I was fortunate to have those strong female mentors and colleagues. I remain in touch and continue to try to get together with them regularly.”

Although there have certainly been challenges in Marti’s path to leadership, she has witnessed positive changes in how women are represented in the workplace, and she hopes that equality will continue to improve.

Marti credits her work ethic and focus on personal growth for helping lead her career trajectory and evolution into a leadership role. She has definitely learned some lessons along the way and shares these words of wisdom in developing her confidence and leadership style. “Over the years I have worked really hard, but it took me a bit longer than it should have taken to become a leader. The advice I would give women aspiring to leadership is to be confident and don’t be afraid to speak up. It is okay if you are wrong, as long as you admit it when you are. Take a seat at the table and be sure to ask for what you want. It took me too long to get this confidence.”

For ongoing inspiration, Marti listens to audiobooks focused on leadership and career development, follows the Skimm for female leadership inspiration and, of course, reads many industry articles and publications to stay on top of the latest developments in media and marketing. One of her go-to references relating to leadership is the book Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office by Lois P. Frankel.

As an industry veteran, Marti has seen the evolution of technology greatly change consumer behavior. Starting out, she explains that consumers didn’t have as many avenues for research, which has changed tremendously with technology. The immense change in online spending has resulted in a large amount of data available. These consumer shopping patterns and data have made it table stakes to invest online. Marketing is no longer primarily based on awareness; it’s about narrowly targeting and getting in front of the consumer in the different phases of their consumer journey. She also notes, “it will be interesting to see how regulations change how far consumer tracking has come and how Google and other platforms will react to pressure from the regulations on data privacy.”

In her personal life, Marti’s two sons have kept their family busy playing several sports throughout their high school years, but now that they’ve both started college, she has more time for her own hobbies. Marti enjoys listening to true crime podcasts, audiobooks and playing sand volleyball. While competitive in her high school days as a three-sport athlete, and now in her business life, she notes that her sand volleyball league is just for fun. Although some who know her might find that hard to believe.

Another important lesson that Marti shares is, “Learn from your mistakes and move forward. I have made a lot of mistakes and will probably make a few more—the key is learning from them and changing. I feel my mistakes have helped me learn so much along the way. Sharing my mistakes is one thing I feel has also helped me to become a better leader.”

As a woman in a C-Suite role and an inspiration to many, Marti believes in the importance of eliminating gender bias, calling out inequality and creating a more inclusive world. She says it’s important to advocate for fellow women and foster those relationships, building other females up and not tearing them down. “It is easy to listen and give her advice on what you think she should do, it is another thing to advocate on her behalf, give her a shout out, put your name on the line and say, ‘you need to see her, look at what great things she is doing!’”

International Women’s Day is March 8, 2021.

“A challenged world is an alert world and from challenge comes change.
So let’s all choose to challenge.

How will you help forge a gender equal world?
Celebrate women’s achievement. Raise awareness against bias. Take action for equality.”


An enormous part of what makes Mindstream Media Group successful is the collective talent and collaboration of its employees across the country. While we as an agency love to share stories about client successes, industry news and product updates on our MMG Blog, we also want to feature the actual people behind the work we are doing to grow client business.

 Our recent video series, Fast-Forward the Conversation, discusses the HOW behind supporting client growth through media strategy, with topics like shopper marketing, franchise work, QSR challenges, agency partnerships and more.

 We’re also now featuring a Mindstreamer (as we like to call ourselves) periodically to share their stories and celebrate the diverse people, backgrounds, interests and qualities that make us unique.