Case Study: Ancestry DNA Links Up With Instagram Influencers

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Instagram Influencer Marketing Case Study: Ancestry Marketing Is Rooted In Influencers

If you found out your great-great-grandmother was born and raised in Dublin, would you be on the next flight to Ireland? Many Millennials are doing just that. Ancestry DNA has made it possible for anyone to track their lineage, not through paper but by blood. For less than the price of a ticket to Disneyland, anyone can discover the nuances of their genetic heritage. An intriguing prospect to begin with, Ancestry DNA propelled their service’s appeal to new heights by calling in the big guns—Instagram travel influencers.

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Instagram influencers, like down-to-earth Millennial Zach Morris, have enormous appeal to young travelers, with over 40% of those under the age of 33 considering a destination’s “Instagrammability” when planning their next vacation. Ancestry marketing has capitalized on the travel influencer marketing trend, inspiring customers to use their Ancestry DNA test results to get in touch with their roots.

Ancestry’s $175 Million Ad Budget Targets Self-Discovery Journeys With Travel Influencers

Considering the personal nature of uncovering lost family history, Ancestry’s marketing has long revolved around emotional draw. Similar to other DNA research brands, Ancestry DNA captures and shares family reunions and moving moments—a strategy that turned their signature DNA kits into a best selling Amazon product.

Ancestry’s partnership with a mixture of seven mid-tier and micro-influencers has taken this emotional connection to a new level, motivating people to pursue a personal journey back to their roots. Ancestry is even embarking on a new endeavor—creating a travel division that will include group and private tours led by one of their genealogists—also known as DNA travel. #DNATravels has already been tagged in nearly 800 posts.

Ancestry DNA’s robust influencer marketing campaign coincided with National DNA Day on April 25th, 2018.


  • Awareness – Each influencer post highlighted the benefits of using an Ancestry kit, focusing on both the emotional and personal appeal.
  • Engagement – Influencers aimed to spark conversation and positive with emotionally charged images and Instagram captions.


  • Channel: Instagram
  • Influencers: Diverse set of micro- and mid-tier influencers

Ancestry DNA influencer partners began posting in April 2018 or later, a couple months before the traditional summer travel season arrived. The brand collaborated mainly with mid-tier influencers, but a few micro-influencers were included as well.

Ancestry’s Instagram influencers exhibited a wide range of ages, ethnicities, and personalities, including a family blogger, Millennial YouTuber, food blogger, menswear model, and travel influencer. The influencers have little in common aside from boasting strong presences on Instagram and appealing to broad demographics.


  • About half the influencers included their partners, children, or other family members in their Instagram sponsored posts.
  • Some influencers used travel to capture the excitement and culture behind their DNA results.
  • Many influencers played off the “shock value” storyline in which they had previous information contradicted by their DNA results that helped captivate and engage their audience.
  • Branded hashtags included #DNADay, #DNATravel, #AncestryDNA, and #ancestry_partner.


Social Reach

  • Instagram followers targeted: 950,200


  • Likes: 47,267
  • Comments: 763
  • Engagement rate (overall average): 6.10%

Ancestry DNA Instagram Sponsored Post Examples

Each influencer brought something unique to the table. Of particular note, Ancestry marketing collaborated with the following Instagram influencers:


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#ad This cake! You guys, this cake! I came up with my own version of Norway’s “Verdens Beste” (The World’s Best Cake) a couple weeks ago after receiving my @ancestry DNA results and learning I’m nearly 50% Scandinavian with a high percentage of that from Norway. I knew I had some of that in me but had no idea just how much! . . It was so fun for me to research desserts from my heritage and come up with my own version of a classic Norwegian cake. With a layer of meringue and almonds baked right on top of each buttery sponge cake, and filled with vanilla custard and raspberries, this cake is nothing short of special! . . Head over to my blog, for the recipe and don’t forget to check out @ancestry’s summer sale, going on now through the 20th (only $59). . #cakebycourtney #cake #cakeoftheday #verdensbeste #ancestry_partner #AncestryDNA #DNAfood #worldsbestcake #norway #norwegiandessert

A post shared by Courtney Rich|CAKE BY COURTNEY (@cakebycourtney) on

1. @cakebycourtney – Courtney Rich, a food influencer, garnered the most comments with a sponsored post featuring one of her cake creations dedicated to her Scandinavian roots.

2. @jamieperkins – Generating the highest number of likes and an engagement rate of 11%, Jamie Perkins shared a post highlighting his parents’ Ancestry DNA experience uncovering their family history. He informs his followers to watch a sponsored video reveal of their Ancestry results on his YouTube channel with 1.74 million subscribers.

3. @heytaemama – While she carries the smallest following, Tae also had the highest engagement rate of all Ancestry’s Instagram influencers at 14.6%. With a concise caption, Tae intrigues followers to find out more about her story by visiting her blog.


  • Electing to collaborate with Instagrammers in several different niches allowed Ancestry marketing to generate impressive reach and engagement.
  • Emotional appeal was the central theme connecting all Ancestry-sponsored influencer posts, with a focus on the relatable human element through personal stories.
  • Including a mix of influencer tiers (micro- and mid-tier) enabled Ancestry DNA to reach a broad range of consumers.
  • To promote Ancestry’s travel program, some influencers weaved DNA travel interests into their Ancestry experience.