5 Ad Tech Platforms for Supermarket Chains

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Online grocery sales are continuing to soar, and supermarket chains are adjusting their marketing and display advertising strategies to keep pace. The total U.S. online grocery market reached $8.7 billion in February 2022 — an 8% increase from the same period last year.

In a move that’s been a long time coming, supermarkets are finally switching from print to digital advertising en masse. Printing circulars and paper coupons are being replaced by sponsored search and display ads as supermarkets both boost their own advertising spend and set up retail media networks to allow brands to better reach their shoppers. Amazon paved the way for grocers to advertise online with its acquisition of Whole Foods in 2017, but continued growth in 2022 is due primarily to surging demand for last-mile grocery delivery via mobile apps like Instacart and DoorDash.

While some of the country’s largest grocery chains have the resources to create their own retail media networks and digital ad platforms, a greater share of supermarkets fall somewhere in the middle between mom-and-pop and corporate behemoth. Regional supermarket chains that want to advertise online but can’t afford to build their own platforms in-house are searching for third-party solutions that they can manage on a self-serve basis.

The recent debut of Instacart’s new retail media offering was designed to serve just this market. Instacart has developed a new source of revenue for grocers by putting ads on their existing websites and mobile apps, but it isn’t alone in the space. Instacart is just the latest in a string of ad tech firms developing platforms made especially for multi-location supermarkets. These platforms check different boxes, offering grocers a way to advertise products with in-stock availability, generate revenue through branded store apps, or reach consumers nearby through an evolving roster of new social channels and loyalty strategies.

If you’re struggling to keep up with the most recent developments in the space, these are five ad tech companies to watch.

1. Instacart

Having already captured an enormous share of the grocery delivery and pick-up market, Instacart launched a retail media offering in March 2022. The new platform leverages the company’s ad tech, ad products, and sales insights. It’s composed of three main parts: Carrot Ads, Carrot Warehouses, and Carrot Insights. Supermarket chains can now use Instacart’s technology to serve their own direct campaigns on their websites and branded apps, in addition to ​​viewing valuable metrics like delivery times, ratings, and order sizes. Instacart’s technology platform is already used by major chains, including Wegmans and Publix, however its new ad tech platform is targeted at smaller regional chains that may not have the resources to build their own in-house advertising platforms.

2. DoorDash 

DoorDash launched a suite of advertising products last year, giving the company’s merchant partners a way to reach new customers and grow their businesses through the online marketplace. Merchants can run promotions through the Offers Hub, and they can purchase homepage banners targeted at DoorDash users by location and demographic. Sponsored Listings are also available to increase a merchant’s visibility on the DoorDash platform. With Sponsored Listings, merchants only pay for orders placed via their ads and not for ad clicks or impressions. DoorDash’s advertising opportunities are available to most merchants that use the company’s platform.

3. AdAdapted

With the launch of a new add-to-cart e-commerce capability for AdAdapted Direct earlier this year, the shopping list marketing and insights platform opened the door for grocery marketers to create campaigns that enable shoppers to add products directly from ads to their online carts. AdAdapted Direct serves mobile ads to shoppers while they are planning trips to their local stores, helping get promoted products into the lower purchase funnel. Brands and advertisers can choose from over 200 retailers to drive shoppers to, including Walmart, Kroger, and Amazon. The company says its solution drives consumers to specific retailers while also supporting the grocery environment more broadly and promoting private-label products.

4. CitrusAd 

CitrusAd has developed a new retail media opportunity for supermarket chains with its CitrusAd Grocery Network. Supermarket chains that integrate their e-commerce websites with the CitrusAd network can run sponsored product ads and display media on their sites. CitrusAd matches CPG brands with the supermarkets carrying their products, so they can reach high-intent shoppers through paid media campaigns. CitrusAd says it can ensure the best SKU is served in ad positions, creating a positive shopper experience and driving more efficient ad performance.

5. ShopLiftr 

ShopLiftr is a platform designed to drive in-store grocery sales by delivering personalized deals on products available in-store in real-time. ShopLiftr’s ad engine searches deals from weekly trade promotions at the top 300 grocery retailers across the United States and promotes them through branded, programmatic display and video advertising. Local deals are personalized to targeted shoppers with flexible messaging, so grocers can update shoppers on changing conditions or product availability. ShopLiftr partners with retailers and CPG brands throughout North America.

Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.

Stephanie Miles is a journalist who covers personal finance, technology, and real estate. As Street Fight’s senior editor, she is particularly interested in how local merchants and national brands are utilizing hyperlocal technology to reach consumers. She has written for FHM, the Daily News, Working World, Gawker, Cityfile, and Recessionwire.