October 29, 2020

What is Add-to-List?

At face value, add-to-list advertising seems simple to most advertising professionals. You find a consumer, show them a product, and get them to add the promoted item to their mobile shopping list or online cart.

Despite the obvious utility of this type of advertising, many advertisers still don’t leverage or even underutilize add-to-list. For some, this is a result of dogmatic adherence to traditional methods, and for others, it’s a lack of education on the benefits of add-to-list.

Why does add-to-list matter?

Contextual relevance

Add-to-list advertising platforms like AdAdapted need to catch consumers in the right moments and places to drive engagement so they specialize in finding shoppers who are in the planning stage of the shopper journey. They also target them while they’re in list-building apps and on the mobile web.

Any advertiser who leverages add-to-list can rest assured knowing that their campaigns were seen in a contextually relevant environment; this method has a leg up on general awareness campaigns that blast consumers while they watch TV, exercise, commute to work, etc.

Behavioral targeting

To achieve even better engagement levels, add-to-list vendors examine the behavior of shoppers to determine who is a likely candidate to add a promoted item to their list. Shoppers are more likely to add a product to their list when they previously engaged with a competitive or category item.

While demographic targeting still has its place, advertisers oftentimes see improved engagement when targeting shoppers based on historical list adds, as opposed to their age or gender.

Purchase intent

One of the most important parts of add-to-list advertising is the measure of purchase intent it provides. Think about it – who would add an item to their shopping list that they didn’t intend to buy?

AdAdapted has determined that over 80% of consumers purchase every item they add to their grocery list (Source: Digital List Builder Survey 2019). Advertisers are forced to utilize expensive and uncertain methods of measurement to determine the effectiveness of their “spray and pray” methods; even then, it’s still very difficult to prove that a TV commercial actually drove people to buy a bag of chips or that brand of beer.

With add-to-list, advertisers can assume that engaged shoppers are actually buying the promoted product in-store This can also be measured by  third-party measurement tools.

Add-to-list: An essential CPG advertising tactic


As touched on above, spend on add-to-list comes with a measure of purchase intent. Those who leverage add-to-list can prove not only that shoppers are clicking on their ads, but that those clicks have an increased value; product lands on the list.

Simply put, a click on an ad that drives a shopper to an educational or store locator page is less significant than one that puts a product on their list. This click of intent to buy represents a point in time much closer to purchase and therefore much more reliable at influencing purchase.

Lower Funnel

While add-to-list certainly provides value up and down the sales and marketing “funnel,” it tends to fall more in the lower funnel portion. Add-to-list ads reach shoppers during their intentional phase or decision-making phase; when they are planning for their next grocery trip.


Not utilizing add-to-list can leave the door open for competitor brands to capitalize on the data in specific CPG categories. Those who use add-to-list data are able to build profiles based on list-building activity and use that data to refine their marketing strategy to engage shoppers who might otherwise be considering or even using competitive products.

Why AdAdapted?

AdAdapted is the market-leading solution for add-to-list for CPGs. By cornering the market and integrating into the leading grocery list apps, AdAdapted has been able to develop an exclusive audience that CPGs can use to engage list builders. No other provider can serve ads that include add-to-list functionality to an audience of grocery shoppers at AdAdapted’s scale.

Now more than ever, it’s extremely important for CPGs to get shoppers to add items to their grocery lists. Consumers are increasingly planning their grocery trips ahead of time and using mobile devices to do their shopping. If advertisers cede ground now, grocery shoppers will turn to alternative brands and private label items.

Those who are currently utilizing add-to-list should consider utilizing disrupted budgets to expand their efforts into other product lines, and those who have not yet begun should consider testing.

For more information and industry expertise on add-to-list email info@adadapted.com.

Stay up to date on the latest in CPG Advertising