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Instacart for CMOs: The Four-Sided Marketplace

The Instacart Paradox can easily confuse brands and advertisers. Instacart is part marketplace, part last-mile delivery, part advertising space, and yet not fully any of these all at the same time. Kiri Masters joins the pod to explain Instacart & how brands can leverage Instacart as a marketing strategy.

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The Instacart Paradox can easily confuse brands and advertisers. Instacart is part marketplace, part last-mile delivery, part advertising space, and yet not fully any of these all at the same time. Kiri Masters joins the pod to explain Instacart and how brands can leverage Instacart as a marketing strategy.

Instacart for CMOs

  • Kiri just wrote a new book called “Instacart for CMOs.” 
  • “There wasn’t as much written about Instacart as there was about other retail marketplaces and there’s a huge thirst for information from brands.” - Kiri Masters
  • This book is a comprehensive guide on how to approach Instacart and how to understand it for your business.

Fulfillment and ROI

  • “[Instacart] doesn’t quite fit the definition of a delivery app and it doesn't quite fit the definition of a marketplace.” - Kiri Masters
  • Instacart isn’t a traditional two-party marketplace, but a four-sided marketplace—the retailer, the in-store shopper, the delivery gig-worker, and the brands that advertise via Instacart.
  • Delivery is a complex issue for businesses in making them profitable. Kiri suggests that fulfillment as a service is a new business model and Amazon is way ahead. Other retailers need their own infrastructure, but are far behind.
  • Instacart is better positioned for the long-term because grocers, for example, are in the grocery business—not the innovation, technology, logistics, and fulfillment business.
  • 10 out of the 10 clients assessed for the book said that Instacart is their highest ROI on ad auctions. 
  • Repurchasing is 20-25 percent of shopping activity and Instacart helps drive this by setting up its UI to recommend previously ordered product to its customers again and again.

The Instacart Paradox and the Complexity of Ad Networks

  • Instacart offers great ROI for an advertiser and the demand is there. However, there’s a lack of control over the availability, the content, and the pricing. 
  • For example, if a certain geography is out of a certain product because of a retailer’s inventory, a competitor could win those advertising bids.
  • Ad investments are fractionalized across many platforms, so in order for brands to build their own infrastructure, a lot of work would have to be done to bring in-house skill and capabilities to the table. 


Have any questions or comments about the show? Let us know on, or reach out to us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn. We love hearing from our listeners!

Brian: [00:01:08] Hello and welcome to Future Commerce, the podcast about next generation commerce.

Phillip: [00:01:13] That's the one.

Brian: [00:01:13] I'm Brian, and I've got a couple of amazing people here also with me.

Phillip: [00:01:20] Hey.

Brian: [00:01:20] Like Phillip.

Phillip: [00:01:22] Yeah, no, nobody cares about me. Kiri Masters is here.

Brian: [00:01:26] Kiri Masters. What's up, Kiri?

Kiri: [00:01:28] Hello. Hey.

Phillip: [00:01:29] Welcome back again.

Kiri: [00:01:30] What's up? Besides the daggy glasses? Do you guys know what daggy means?

Phillip: [00:01:36] No, but please explain.

Brian: [00:01:36] No idea.

Phillip: [00:01:36] Is that like Dagwood from the like Archie comics?

Kiri: [00:01:41] I wish. So it's an Australianism. If you're a dag then you're a bit of a, not very groovy, like a little bit behind the times... A bit of a dag. And what it actually means is, it's the part of the sheep where the sheep's bottom meets the tail that gets all poopy.

Phillip: [00:02:01] Oh wow.

Kiri: [00:02:02] And what they cut off ultimately. So that's what a dag is. And I've got the daggy glasses. And you guys know just a little bit more about Australia now.

Phillip: [00:02:14] {laughter} More than we ever wanted to know.

Brian: [00:02:16] {laughter} A little slice of Australian culture here.

Phillip: [00:02:19] Kiri, you know, if you want to be on the show more frequently, you don't have to write a book. You could just ask.

Kiri: [00:02:27] Would make it that much easier.

Phillip: [00:02:27] Kiri's written a new book. It would be. It would be a shorter path. Just send us a message. Just kidding. We had you on the show last about this time last year, maybe sometime in late spring, where you had written a coauthored a book called "Amazon for CMOs," which I think is in its fifth printing. No, I don't know. It's quite well circulated. And I still see people reference it from time to time. I've recommended it to a number of folks that we work with a lot. You've written a new book about Instacart. Tell us about Instacart or what inspired you to write another. Why would you put yourself through writing another book? I think it's the first question.

Kiri: [00:03:13] So I wasn't very inventive with the title, because previous book was "Amazon for CMOs," and this one is "Instacart for CMOs." So that preserved a little bit of energy to the content, I think, which is an interesting topic to cover because nothing had really been... Not nothing. But [00:03:34] there wasn't as much written about Instacart as there was about other retail marketplaces. And there's a huge thirst for information from brands because it was certainly in 2020, the shiny new penny to spend your ad dollars on the retail media platform that was generating great ROI, just a real hot commodity with the pandemic and people purchasing at home. So there was a lot of interest and not a lot of really credible, actionable information about what do you do with this platform to optimize the ads, to optimize conversion? And so we, my coauthor, Stefan Jordev, and I decided to put together the first and foremost guide on it. [00:04:27]

Phillip: [00:04:28] And it's, from what I understand... Haven't read the book. Full disclosure. But it's a comprehensive guide of how to approach Instacart, how to understand it for your business, specifically if you are a Chief Marketing Officer. What are some, just right up off the top? Are there some misconceptions about what Instacart is or how it's kind of lumped in with other delivery apps? Is it just a delivery app? Is that what Instacart is and why not Door Dash for CMOs?

Kiri: [00:05:02] That's a good question. It's interesting. It doesn't quite fit the definition of a delivery app and it doesn't quite fit the definition of a marketplace the way that we know it. And I'll take it from the perspective of retail marketplaces, which is my background. Amazon. Walmart. Those platforms and bring two parties together for a transaction. In the case of those two entities, they also have a retail business where they're selling, acquiring goods wholesale as well. So there's a little bit more nuance to it than that. But ultimately, it's a two sided marketplace. Instacart has a four sided marketplace because they have the retailer who is actually accountable for the inventory and pricing and content. They have the in-store shopper, which is the gig worker, picking up the delivery. The customer. And also brands who advertise on that platform. But the brands don't really have any control over inventory, pricing, product content and availability across geographies. So it's different to other online retail marketplaces, from that perspective, that it's four sided. It's also a little different to the delivery apps in that I think that they're... In a couple of different ways, one is how Instacart has really partnered with the major retailers. They've got a lot of cut through to actually reach through their retail partners, reach 80 percent of the US population and 70 percent of the Canadian population. So that sets them ahead of other delivery partners and just the extent of the relationships they partner with. I think at last count, eight of the top 10 retailers in the US across increasingly not just grocery, but Walgreens, CVS, Sephora, Best Buy, getting into all different types of verticals as well. So from that perspective, they are a demand aggregator and a destination for people who are shopping across every category, not just grocery, but getting ready to jump on Zoom, and you don't have all the makeup that you need. You can jump on and get what you need from Walgreens or Sephora, and that's become a central buying activity. So that's how I see them as different from both the delivery platforms and other marketplaces.

Brian: [00:07:54] So pretty unique, and with that comes a lot of complexity. I feel like everything you're saying is like, whoa. Instacart is a complex business. And there's been a lot of chatter about how, oh should retailers watch out for Instacart? Is this a threat to their business? Friend or foe? And yet you get into some of this and you're like, wait a minute. Actually, this is a really, really complicated. I think I error on the side of this is a friend, because figuring this out for, like a retailer to go do this on their own is going to take so much work and so much investment that I think the only foe side of things that I see here is not investing in it now as a business. It's not so much that Instacart's a threat because right now it's giving you access to something that would take a lot of work to get on your own.

Phillip: [00:08:59] Oh yeah.

Brian: [00:08:59] In fact, I wouldn't even get all the benefits because Instacart gives people access. Like you said, it's a marketplace that gives people access to things or it's a channel that they wouldn't necessarily have thought to use your particular, you know, you as a retailer before. So it's like I see a lot of benefits and a lot of like upside with Instacart. The only downside is not investing in your own version of this or your own infrastructure because it's going to be necessary for the future.

Phillip: [00:09:30] And there's something we talked about, Brian. I'm curious what you think about this, Kiri. The direct to consumerization of Last Mile, I think is something we might see play out in the next few years where, you know, more and more margin is being let go. And obviously customer price tolerances are being challenged here by all these delivery fees. And then a lot of these delivery apps, I mean, Instacart might be something different. Again, I'd love you to educate me here, but there might be a greater opportunity, long term, at least for grocery to build this capability and first party in house. But, Kiri, tell us a little bit about that.

Kiri: [00:10:14] They're trying. They're trying. So the biggest grocer in the US, Kroger, has been, I think it's a few years ago that they first set out on the journey to build customer fulfillment centers dedicated to eCommerce fulfillment. And that was in partnership with Ocado, so they're a few years in. Ten sites identified. Haven't finished their first site. And I don't think there's a recent sort of news, public news on this, but I believe it's over time and over budget. So that's Kroger, who has the most resources out of anyone to get there, and they still rely on Instacart for a lot of that demand and a lot of the technology. And what is not sure if you've seen these charts from Bain and another who actually did similar kind of analysis, but the profitability of various fulfillment methods in grocery from a customer going to a store and picking their own basket, to the grocer picking a basket and the customer doing click and collect, to a third party doing the picking and in home delivery. And there's negligible profits to go around in any scenario in grocery, but particularly picking versus picking and delivering is unprofitable. So the way that Instacart is actually, their business model really works by improving order density and making sure that they have enough deliveries scheduled on their routes, potentially aggregating orders from different retailers to make sure that the juice is worth the squeeze with those gig workers and setting up the infrastructure that. And that's how they've been able to expand throughout not just the top tier cities, but secondary cities and beyond and into much smaller geographies. So you think about Kroger is one example, but you think about smaller regional players or even the specialist butchers or these regional chains. They're not going to be able to aggregate enough demand or build up that root density to make it work. So one scenario I see is that Instacart has a white label platform, which they actually do already. They acquired a few years ago. And they could if they're not able to convince retailers to always be using their front end solution, at least have the back end solution built like a white label solution. So that's where I personally think it's going. I think there's an argument to be made to say, look, Instacart could make just as much money by becoming a retailer. And there was some news last week that indicated that their buildings and fulfillment centers, but to your point, Phillip, [00:13:53] I think that there's a fulfillment as a service is a business model. Amazon is in that business model now. And I really believe that that's where a huge dose of their future is as well. So these retailers need that infrastructure. They are quite far behind. This is a major leap forward. You're not going to get the customer data. There's a lot of challenges with this model. But what other options do they have really? [00:14:24]

Phillip: [00:14:24] There's so much opportunity from a demand gen perspective of being able to... They already have the audience, which I think is arguably one of the harder things to build, aside from the logistical capability and the infrastructure to be able to deliver. Obviously, grocers are in the grocery business and not always in the innovation tech stack, logistics, and fulfillment business. So that's I think it stands to reason why an Instacart is better positioned for the long term. The ad network and the capability of attracting a new audience or getting your brand or your retail outfit in front of a motivated buyer... That seems like something we're all very familiar with in other modalities, right? Amazon is one, I think that's... Is that what first attracted you to take a look at Instacart in closer detail?

Kiri: [00:15:28] Yeah.

Phillip: [00:15:28] And what are some of the similarities there or what are some of the operational differences if you are looking to invest in Instacart as a retailer?

Kiri: [00:15:39] Yes, Instacart launched their self-service ad platform in Q1 to Q2 last year, in 2020, and integrated with just a few ad tech partners initially, but got a lot of attention from brands because that ROI is really good, back then and it is today as well. Stefan, my coauthor, and I spoke with nine brands for this book to get their perspectives, industry perspectives. Companies ranging from Revlon and e.l.f cosmetics down to much smaller brands like Simple Mills and Nuun Hydration to get their perspectives on how Instacart is as a partner, what their opportunities were, and some really interesting questions around where does Instacart sit in your org structure? Because the sales show up with the retailer, but the activity of managing the spend on Instacart usually sits with the digital eCommerce team, which is usually under marketing. So it's like this hot potato in some ways. All these brands that we spoke with for the book, as well as the clients that we work with at Bobsled, my agency, ten out of ten times Instacart is offering the best ROI of all of their marketplaces. So that's what's drawn a lot of brands to Instacart is the good word has gotten out there. And they're all eager to get in front of where shoppers are shopping. We want to meet them where they are. That's how forward thinking brands are thinking about it. The challenge is because of the four sided nature of the marketplace and the fact that brands don't have control over inventory, pricing, and to a great extent, the product content as well, they don't have so many levers that they can pull. Unlike Amazon and Walmart and Target, where they can control all of those factors. Basically that retail sitting in the middle. Sometimes that retailer is not particularly engaged with Instacart or their questioning their strategic alliance. And sometimes the retail is not a priority. And sometimes they have inventory fulfillment, inventory systems just aren't equipped to have store level inventory data feeds. And the whole situation starts to crumble a little bit when a brand is relying on the retailer for so much. So it's interesting to me because Instacart could have very easily, I guess, relatively speaking, easily given brands more of a control point around product content in particular, but for some reason that hasn't happened and they've kept retailers at the center of that. So it might tell us something about where Instacart's loyalty is to some extent, and those kind of things make me question this logic that Instacart is going to go out and become a retailer and screw over all the retailers. I just think that that would be pretty antithetical to their business model so far, and imagine all the work required to get eight of the top 10 retailers onto your platform.

Phillip: [00:19:46] Right. And then just to start making your own batteries in a basics line and start back filling... Eventually just give it give it a decade. It'll be there. That's the law of platforms as it begins to eat its own tail. And you have the... Yeah.

Brian: [00:20:05] Although it kind of cracks me up that that's that's sort of scary to the Kroger's and Targets of the world since that's sort of what they did.

Phillip: [00:20:15] Well yeah. You try to create enough dominance that you can prevent happening to you what you did to everybody else. That's also the law platforms. {laughter} It's the moat. You build the moat.

Brian: [00:20:29] Something that you said really hit hard, which was the ROI portion of this. So you said ten out of ten of the clients you surveyed said it was their highest ROI?

Kiri: [00:20:42] Yeah all of them.

Brian: [00:20:42] Ok, unpack that a little bit. What's contributing to that? That's crazy.

Kiri: [00:20:48] Well, so quick primer on how ad auctions work. You've got a second price auction and the first price auction, so Amazon and Instacart both operate second price auction, which means that if you're bidding on a search term two dollars and I'm bidding one dollar, then you're going to win that bid. But you're going to pay a dollar and one penny because you pay basically a fraction of what the next highest bidder was. With a first prize auction, which is what Walmart has, iIt's you bid two dollars, I bid one dollar. You win the bid at two dollars, you pay two dollars. So you're paying... It's not as good value for money. And so that's a challenge that a lot of advertisers have with Walmart in particular is that the ROI just by the nature of the first price auction format, it's just more difficult to get that to be competitive. So that's one thing that sets it apart from Walmart. And then I guess that this is somewhat of a choice that Instacart has made to be very, to provide great value to advertisers. And they've done a really great job. It's been a great strategy because they've attracted a lot of ad dollars. Their CRO, Seth Dallaire, is from Amazon and has brought a lot of the great track record that Amazon had in becoming a retail media giant across. So Seth and his team and the whole organization, that's a huge revenue stream for them. They've really jumped on that and are throwing lots of resources at making it a really attractive place to spend ad dollars. And the analytics are quite good, and it's getting better as well. Currently, it's very quite simple in terms of there's only one ad campaign type. The bidding structure is pretty straightforward, but I think there'll be more coming in terms of display ad types and things like that.

Brian: [00:24:55] So just by nature of the bidding system that they picked, it's going to naturally be more effective for retailers. Of course that means that Instacart's not making as much money as Walmart is on their auctions.

Kiri: [00:25:12] Another thing that is important here is when you think about each marketplace has their own flywheel. Amazon is really famous for having its flywheel where Prime membership helps that flywheel to accelerate [00:25:29]. With Instacart, what's interesting is that a lot of the UI is built around repeat purchases. So if you're shopping on it, then you're frequently prompted, "Hey, you bought this last time. Do You want to shop from your recently ordered items?" And so it constantly brings people back to what they've bought before. And so as a brand, if you can kind of get in early in someone's cart and their ordered items, then you've got a chance of coming back into someone's cart later on because Instacart keeps resurfacing those items to shoppers. They know that it converts. And so one stat that we pulled was 20-25 percent of in-store shopping activity comes from repurchasing. [00:26:25] So this is kind of the like the early mover advantage if you're jumping in there. And even if that immediate ROI wasn't that good, if you truly believed that I've got a consumable product that people are repurchasing that in three months or six months then I can get this customer coming back over time. So that's another reason that's a little less measurable, but another reason why advertisers really, really like the platform.

Phillip: [00:27:01] The loyalty or the retention cost diminishes the customer acquisition costs over time. The effective rate of customer acquisition can be, you could invest much heavier earlier on because the payback period over time would be significantly lower than, say, any other channel where there's more competition.

Kiri: [00:27:24] Yes.

Phillip: [00:27:25] Yeah. And that's a conversation we hear a lot these days, especially on the Web or even in email where you're constantly paying to reacquire a customer because there's just too many options. There's a lot of ad dollars going to try to lure that customer away. This is an amazing sort of captive platform where good experiences beget the next good experience.

Kiri: [00:27:55] Yeah. So there's a few complaints that brands have about the ad platform. One is you can't target by geography or retailer. And so if you're... One of the brands that we interviewed is Clif Bar. Let's say they wanted to target Albertsons, for example, in a particular geography. Given whatever data they have, just as an example, they can't do that because, again, my view is Instacart is really keeping that retailer relationship sacred in a way, and retailers are ultimately losing the trade dollars and some marketing dollars that they would be getting from brands, it's being diverted to Instacart. So if you were Instacart, and you allowed brands to target by retailer or geography, in some cases it's going to be the same thing because there are only so many retailers in that geography, then you're more directly stemming the flow of vendor dollars. So that's one thing where I think brands understand the logic behind that, but they would much rather know by retailer how it's all working out. So that's one of those things that I don't think it's really going to change, given Instacart's business model. And brands are always looking for more data. And Instacart's certainly pulling ahead with their development. That's a limitation, along with no control of inventory availability or all of that.

Brian: [00:29:48] Is that the Instacart paradox that you mentioned in the pre show?

Kiri: [00:29:54] Yes.

Brian: [00:29:54] Tell us what you said is the Instacart paradox. That was such a fun term. Is that part of it? Explain the Instacart paradox. As you sort of mentioned earlier.

Kiri: [00:30:06] Instacart paradox is that Instacart offers great ROI for an advertiser, and it's where so many customers are shopping, it's where all the demand is. So you want to be there, you want to be advertising. But at the same time, there's a lack of control because having the retailer at the heart of product availability, content, pricing means so much of making that purchase happen is outside of the control of the brand. So there are safeguards in place, like if you're a brand and you're advertising, if you're Clif Bar, and you're advertising a product, and it's out of stock in some geographies, Instacart's not going to allow it to be advertised in those geographies. So they have safety rails with things like that, but it's still frustrating for a brand to put Instacart into their plan and then for it to not actually show up in California because the retailer dropped the ball, or didn't have their inventory system operating properly.

Phillip: [00:31:16] Wow. Oh, that's an interesting dilemma because what happens then in those geographies, Kiri? Are there competing brands that would win the bid by default then based on inventory availability? Is that how it wins out?

Kiri: [00:31:33] Yeah.

Phillip: [00:31:34] Yeah.

Kiri: [00:31:35] Yeah. That's how it could go down. So those competitors of Clif Bar, and they could be trying to conquest Clif Bar, and if Clif Bar is out of stock then they could sneak in with that and conquest them there.

Brian: [00:31:50] Interesting. So that might be an interesting strategy is to look for opportunities where there's out of stock and go after those.

Kiri: [00:31:59] Yes.

Brian: [00:31:59] A lot of opportunities to just sort of sneak in and take over market share as a result of that.

Phillip: [00:32:03] {ahem} Gummy vitamins. Gummies are out everywhere, all over the nation right now. Apparently, I have it on good authority. There's something...

Kiri: [00:32:11] Oh really?

Phillip: [00:32:11] There's a supply chain constraint around producing gummy vitamins, especially in the United States. There's something to the tune of, I think there's three manufacturers that produce most of the gummies in all of the United States just by volume.

Kiri: [00:32:27] Wow.

Phillip: [00:32:27] And they're all constrained due to the same supply chain issues. And so that's been a big fallout for the wellness industry who is in Boomtown right now, who have shifted modality over the last few years due to all kinds of reasons, but full family wellness really hinges on gummies these days. And when you look at cannabis and CBD and a bunch of other things like gummies are... Anyway, I'm saying not to say I'm curious what you do to position your brand if you're a smaller brand. Instacart might be a really interesting play where the big guys would be out of stock and you have plenty sitting on someone's shelf. That would be a really interesting approach to get some brand loyalty right now.

Kiri: [00:33:20] I'm going to throw a question out to you guys. I'm interested in your take. As we're talking about retailers, they're maybe a few years behind now [00:33:31]. But ultimately, if we believe they're going to go out and build their own platforms or white label, et cetera, retail ad networks are where you're going to make up the margin that you lose elsewhere. It's very profitable. Brands, once they can see the value, are quick to run and chase that down. So with Instacart, if their ROI is there, brands will come. So I see this future where if you're a CPG brand, you've got a dozen retail ad networks that you suddenly now need to manage and allocate spend between. And it's going to get so complicated and that's just the retailers. That's not including marketplaces, DTC, the traditional brick and mortar retail, whatever that looks like. So, wow, that's an interesting future to look at. [00:34:32]

Phillip: [00:34:32] I mean, maybe Scott Wingo shouldn't have gotten into the carwash business and should have stayed on... If Channel Adviser hadn't been built 20 years ago and built five years ago. I think there's a...

Brian: [00:34:46] Hold on. Hold on. Wait, what was your question, Kiri?

Phillip: [00:34:49] Sorry, I jumped in. I heard where I thought the question was going, maybe I'm wrong.

Kiri: [00:34:55] {laughter} That's pretty much it. What opportunities... Do you agree with that? What opportunities do you see with tech to come in and solve that kind of problem?

Brian: [00:35:05] I feel like this is the bundling and unbundling moment yet again. {laughter}

Kiri: [00:35:09] Yes.

Phillip: [00:35:10] Yes, it is. Well, so it's omnichannel everywhere, I think is is one of the challenges here is that there's sort of omnichannel as it pertains to logistics. There's, you know, two hour, there's same day, there's two day, and customers expect to have it whenever they want it, at whatever place they want it. There's omnichannel as far as like being able to acquire customers and the way that you're invested there. And like everything to win in one channel requires investment in probably all of the channels because they sort of flex and ebb and flow over time. And so having to be invested, I think when you're looking at where have agencies thrived in the past? It's consolidating talent and managing complex investments and platforms. And it was commoditized in a world where it was only Facebook or only Google, where the two places that you primarily had your ad spend. But this is the kind of, like this moment where there is not even just a bifurcation or trifurcation. The way that ad investments are being fractionalized across all, specifically for CPG, across so many different ad networks, for a retailer to be able to do that in-house and everyone to build that same capability is going to require an immense amount of upskilling to bring that talent in-house. And there's very few people who can actually go do that today, or a concentration of agency talent, which is probably, I think, where you and others, I think, are well-positioned to be able to make sense of it and give good advice and manage ad spend and tell people where to place their bets. That's my sense, is that there's also a technology gap in that being able to manage all of these is going to require sophisticated platforms that will help you do that. And even then, there are people that are just specialists in AdSense, there are AdWords, there's people that are just specialists in very specific platforms, and we'll see that kind of specialization emerge as well. But you've probably got a number of years. We're very early on. We're very early on in this phenomenon of a dozen retailer ad networks. Walgreens has one. Walmart has one.

Kiri: [00:37:43] Yeah.

Phillip: [00:37:44] Brian, you have something to say. I don't want to take up all the air.

Brian: [00:37:47] Yeah. I feel like managing all of these is broadening the skillset to the point where I feel like potentially there could be an opportunity. I think actually your comment about Scott was on point actually.

Phillip: [00:38:03] Love you, Scott.

Brian: [00:38:03] Building technology...

Kiri: [00:38:05] He's still the chairman. I'm sure he's doing just fine.

Phillip: [00:38:09] What does a Chairman do? I don't even know.

Brian: [00:38:11] I didn't mean to pick on, Scott.

Phillip: [00:38:12] Oh I did.

Brian: [00:38:12] My point was that technology could be the answer here. It could be that we will have to invest in ad management technology that is then stewarded by an agency for us. And there's agencies that come around this ad technology that allows us to go after all these deals because it is really, really big. Having the expertise to manage the different types of bid systems, like the different interfaces, the different nuances to each marketplace. If it's pickup, if it's shipped, if it's concierge, if it's whatever it is. There's so many different ways to do this now, and then advertising for those different channels, for those different methodologies of interacting with your customer, all have multiple ways to advertise against them. It's too big. You're going to need something to sort of rebundle. We're back to bundling.

Phillip: [00:39:21] It's not just ad management technology. It's like ad management management technology.

Brian: [00:39:27] Right. Right. Exactly.

Phillip: [00:39:28] It's whatever that that next level of abstraction is. Kiri, I'm curious if you have an answer for this. I want to know what you think. But in that answer, you were saying something earlier. Do you believe that manufacturers, brands, are shifting ad spend away from in-aisle discounts and the sort of traditional model, coupon, manufacturer retail offers? That they're shifting that spend away to these other channels for acquisition like Instacart? Or is this purely like sort of net new investment? Yeah, I'm curious what you think about those.

Kiri: [00:40:08] It's hard to say. I don't have the super clear from that. I'd say this time last year, yes.

Phillip: [00:40:16] Yeah.

Kiri: [00:40:18] If you could yank those dollars out of the stores then you were spending them online. But now I'm not so sure. It might be net new. Hard to say.

Brian: [00:40:29] Hmm.

Phillip: [00:40:30] What's your answer to this evolving sort of complexity of ad networks question?

Kiri: [00:40:36] Yeah, I think you're right. And Brian's point bundling and unbundling, that's the sort of business cycle is I think where we're going to definitely get those aggregated solutions. And I see another huge opportunity for technology and just better analytics. There are a few providers out there, who some have their roots in traditional retail shelf analytics. And there's some new digital shelf analytics providers. We need more of them, and we need them to continue to level up the game because this particularly like the systemic issues in why retailers can't have up to date store level inventory counts, and those need to be addressed before retailers can solve any new eCommerce problems. There's a lot of companies behind, a lot of manufacturers behind, in being able to do anything remotely DTC because they can't ship each's still. So there's a lot of remediation that needs to happen for retailers and a lot of brands as well. And this is helping to push things forward a little bit faster. We will need technology to solve those problems. I like what you said about agencies. I'm an agency girl. So I think as much as technology can help things, you always need that strategy and the context of bringing lots of different pieces from different clients and different channels and categories together to figure out what's the right plan. That is not something that you can outsource to AI. There's room to grow in this ecosystem, that's for sure.

Phillip: [00:42:48] As always, we have more things to talk about than time to accomplish it in, but there was somebody who tweeted recently, and I'd love to give them a shout out, but I can't remember who it was. So apologies, but it was... Just think about how early we are in these new modalities of the way that we shop. We're at in its infancy. Imagine thinking you were late to the Internet in 2001 or 2002 because there was a lot of movement early on. I mean, Amazon was founded in, what, 94 or 95, something crazy. Thinking you're late then and look at how much growth has happened since. Thinking you're late to Instacart now, you're not. {laughter} And I think that Instacart is proving out a category where there will only be more growth. And if the future comes to pass, where there's multiple of these types of platforms that are all competing for the customer, it means that more customers are adopting that as a preferred channel to shop, which means there's more opportunity for all of us to find new customers. That can be a virtuous cycle. Kiri, where do we go get the book?

Kiri: [00:44:13] Yeah, you can find Instacart for CMOs on Amazon. Not Instacart, as far as I know. If you just go to Amazon search for Instacart for CMOs, you'll be able to find it. Kindle and paperback. And I wrote that book with Stefan Jordev, who's the Director of Marketplace Strategy and Insights at Bobsled Marketing. So definitely a joint effort there.

Phillip: [00:44:38] Awesome.

Brian: [00:44:39] It's amazing.

Phillip: [00:44:40] Always love having you on the show, Kiri. And let's have you back before you write another book. I just love having you.

Kiri: [00:44:48] It'll be a while. Thank you so much, guys. Great to speak with you and talk about the future of Instacart and commerce.

Phillip: [00:44:56] Yeah, thank you.

Brian: [00:44:57] Thank you.

Phillip: [00:44:58] And if you want to go get some daggy glasses for yourself, we'll post up a link in the show notes. {laughter} You can find that a And hey, we put out two shows every week. There's Future Commerce, which you're listening to right now. Comes out 7am every Friday. There's also Stairway to CEO, which drops every Tuesday with the venerable Lee Greene, who's absolutely brilliant and helps unpack what makes leaders tick and why in the world would they want to create and build some really brilliant companies. Great show there. You can find all of that and never miss a single episode or any content that we produce, and you can find that at And why do you subscribe at That'll get you up to date on all the things that we're doing in the world of commerce. Thank you for listening, and we'll see you next time.

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