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Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

Now that the ad market is booming again, all sorts of businesses are doubling down on their investments selling ad space.

Why it matters: Media companies used to be the biggest sellers of advertising globally. Then tech giants took that title. Now, in a post-pandemic world, every industry that has a digital presence is trying to build an ad revenue line.

Driving the news: Instacart on Thursday said it poached a key Facebook executive, Fidji Simo, to be its new CEO.

  • Simo, who has been with Facebook for a decade, headed up Facebook's app and was behind many of Facebook’s biggest product pivots — most notably, building out Facebook's mobile ad suite.
  • In an interview with CNBC, Simo said she's strongly bullish on the $1 billion ad business Instacart is aiming to build, as detailed in an Insider report last month.

Industries are aggressively pursing advertising:

  • Delivery: Instacart has competition. Gopuff, the $9 billion food delivery startup, is launching its own ad network, Axios reported last month. DoorDash is reportedly looking to hire a head of advertising.
  • Retail: All of the retail giants, like Walmart, Target, Best Buy and Home Depot, have built their own ad networks that connect companies to people when they shop. Amazon is by far the largest retail ad giant, with a roughly $20 billion annual ads business.
  • Grocers: Kroger, Albertsons and even discount grocers like Dollar Tree have all launched their own media networks in the past few years.
  • Pharmacies: CVS and Walgreens have both launched their own ad-placement programs.
  • Gaming: A first-of-its-kind in-game ad platform launched last week, giving marketers that are used to running TV ads the ability to target younger demographics with similar types of spots that will run in console video games.

How it works: Every company sells ad space differently.

  • Delivery apps will sell sponsored search results for different items a user wants.
  • Retail stores may sell sponsored search results on their apps or websites, as well as in-store branding at their different physical locations. 

Be smart: For companies that sell goods, advertising isn't just a financial opportunity, but a chance to make their operations more efficient. For instance, grocers, retailers and pharmacies can monitor their inventory and push products they need to move quickly.

The big picture: The ad industry was clobbered in spring by pandemic-driven budget cuts. But a quicker-than-expected economic recovery has analysts forecasting that ads will return stronger than ever in 2021 and beyond.

  • Looking ahead, the experts expect the ad market will continue to diversify amongst different industries, but particularly retail.

Go deeper

Jul 8, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Conservative group runs ads attacking MLB

Atlanta's baseball stadium, empty, just like it will be during the All-Star Game. Photo: Todd Kirkland/Getty Images

A conservative group is targeting Major League Baseball and Ticketmaster with a seven-figure advertising campaign ahead of next week’s All-Star Game, accusing them of practicing “woke capitalism.”

Why it matters: By taking direct aim at MLB — and other private entities — Consumers' Research is putting corporate America on notice that it will try to talk directly to their customers with the express goal of hurting their bottom line.

Updated 10 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Pelosi appoints GOP Rep. Kinzinger to Jan. 6 committee

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced Sunday that she has appointed Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) to serve on the House select committee investigating the Jan 6. Capitol riot.

Why it matters: Pelosi's announcement comes after she rejected two of the five Republican appointments offered by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).

Mike Allen, author of AM
39 mins ago - Politics & Policy

America's "Friendscape" crisis

New research shows Americans have fewer friends than in the past, and are less likely to have a best friend.

  • Why it matters: At a time of excruciating mental and societal stress, this is another sign we're breaking apart. And the friendship drought could get worse with more people working remotely or hybrid-ly.

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