Instagram is easily one of the most popular social networks out there, with over 800 million people using the platform every month. And there’s no sign of Instagram’s growth slowing down anytime soon.
Even more exciting, over 80% of Instagram users follow a business and 200 million visit a business profile every day. Luckily for brands, Instagram has a number of advertising opportunities to choose from, including photo, video, and carousel ads that appear in user’s feeds (or Stories ads that appear between their Stories).
Like their parent company Facebook, Instagram allows you to precisely target the perfect audience for your business, using:
- Custom Audiences
- Lookalike Audiences
- Automated Targeting
Instagram makes it easier for businesses to use the platform to gain access to their users in a non-intrusive way, meaning users are happy and brands meet their advertising performance goals.
So now that you’re excited to advertise on Instagram, you’re probably asking yourself what type of ads are available to try out. Here’s a rundown of the most popular Instagram ad types you need to know about.
1) Photo Ads
Although clearly marked as ads, Instagram sprinkles photo and video advertising throughout a user’s regular feed to introduce the ads in a natural, native advertising-esque way. This means ads are less intrusive and feel more organic to the platform’s users, which encourages engagement and clicks.
Photo ads let you convey a short message with a single image (square or landscape) and a caption. They support the widest range of CTAs, compared to other ad formats like video.
2) Video Ads
Video ads are typically a few seconds long but advertisers can now share videos up to 60 seconds long (also in square or landscape format). They tend to be highly engaging, if used correctly.
Instagram’s own data shows that time spent watching videos on the platform increased 80 percent from 2016 to 2017. The number of videos produced also increased by 400% in the same time period, so marketers must make their videos stand out from the competition.
Tips for making the most of photo and video ads:
- Using high-quality media that resonates with your brand message
- Tell a story
- Think outside of the box
- Include a relevant call to action
3) Carousel Ads
Carousel ads are like photo ads, but allow advertisers to upload more than one image at a time that users are able to swipe through. By handing over control of the story to the users, brands have a greater opportunity to speak to their audience in a creative way.
Carousel ads support up to 10 images and share the same CTAs as video ads. This format works well for brands with dynamic products like food, clothing or entertainment, or brands willing to experiment with experiential marketing.
Airbnb leveraged carousel ads to entice users to visit specific locations, displaying a range of engaging photos tied to the area. Imagine you are thinking of traveling to Europe and you see a series of beautiful, fun photos highlighting well-known attractions in Paris and images of the experience itself — the food, the nightlife or small shops and hidden side streets. Wouldn’t you click through?
As of February, Instagram also offers carousel ads in Instagram Stories (up from 1 to 3 pieces of content per Story).
4) Instagram Stories Ads
In response to Snapchat’s encroaching popularity, Instagram released ephemeral ‘Instagram Stories’ in 2016 and users immediately ate it up. Now, 400 million people use Instagram Stories everyday and brands are paying attention. As Instagram explains, “businesses can [use Stories to] promote products, build brand awareness and drive sales in a way that fits seamlessly into their customers’ browsing experience.”
Businesses can get in on the Stories trend too. The ads are either photo or video format that display between user’s stories in the Instagram Stories feed. Unlike other Instagram ad formats, Stories ads display in full-screen instead of within the timeline feed (as do all Stories).
You can also take advantage of Stories features to add effects like superzoom, face filters, text and gif stickers, so your ads become more of an interactive experience. You can also add CTAs to photo and video Stories ads.
According to Instagram, the most successful Stories ads were:
- Relevant to the audience and the brand
- Shorter, fast-paced and clearly branded
- Showed off the product
- Mobile optimized
In exciting recent news, Instagram announced that they were making Shopping in Stories available to all businesses approved for shopping on the platform.
Businesses that are approved and set up to use shopping will now be able to add one product sticker to any story with customizable text color. When a shopper taps on a product sticker, they’ll be taken to the same product details page that they see when they tap on a shopping post in feed. There, they’ll be able to see additional product images, details and similar items, as well as a link to the business’s mobile site to make a purchase.
5) Facebook Canvas Ads for Instagram Stories
If you’re not sure where to start with creating video ads for Instagram Stories, the platform’s relationship with Facebook means you can use Facebook’s Instant Experience (formerly known as Canvas) ad builder and the included templates to create video ads that can be used in Instagram Stories ads.
Pro Tip: Make Sure Your Ads Are Working with Analytics
What is the point of running ads if you don’t know how they’re performing and which ads are bringing in the best ROI? It’s important to check your Instagram analytics to determine what’s working (and what isn’t) with your ads.
You can also check out how your ads are doing in Facebook’s Ad Manager. Here is a rundown on how to do so:
Wrapping it All Up
Advertising on Instagram is an exciting opportunity for marketers to get creative and reach new audiences. Through advanced targeting, you can reach specific users easily to help drive your branding efforts and increase ROI. Remember to keep an eye on your campaigns with advanced analytics, and use what you learn to optimize your Instagram advertising performance.
Feature Image: Unsplash / NeONBRAND
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Image 8: via Facebook