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The Ins and Outs of Instagram Ads

Instagram Ad

To those following the progression of digital advertising trends, it comes as little surprise that Instagram recently started allowing fullscreen ads on their Story function. Since two years ago, when Instagram started giving advertisers their share of the small screen, we've seen a lot of changes to the app, including an expansion of ways to advertise on it. Right now, Instagram Ads can be served many different ways and can be customized to your advertising goals. To get started, let's look at creating an Ad from the beginning, your options to choose from, and see if we can determine if they are a feasible option for your business.

How to Create an Instagram Ad

Instagram ads are created within the Facebook Ad Manager, in conjunction with any Facebook ads you are also producing. In the first step of creating an ad, you define your campaign objectives. Facebook will then automatically suggest the "placements" where it will appear. If you know you want it to run on Instagram and no other platforms, it's necessary to select custom placement and then choose Instagram from the platforms dropdown.

Creating an Instagram Ad

In some cases, what you select as an objective will determine what kind of ads you're allowed to run. For example, only by selecting the "Reach" objective can you run ads in the Stories feature. After you have verified that Instagram is your platform of choice, you can then move on to choose type and functionality.

Insta Hint: Make sure your Instagram account is linked up to your Facebook account when submitting an ad. This guarantees your ad will by displayed with a "clickable" account name at the top, allowing viewers to visit your profile page.

Types of Instagram Ads

There are 5 different ad options available for the Instagram Feed: carousel, single image, single video, slideshow, and canvas.

Types of Instagram Feed Ads

If you're creating an Instagram story, you only have two options: single image or single video.

Types of Instagram Stories Ads

After you select your format, you will want to make sure to include a call to action. The CTA can be anything from getting directions to a vendor location to downloading an app. For my example, I selected the Call Now CTA. If anyone sees this ad and wants to call us to about building a successful social publishing strategy, all they have to do is click a button.

Instagram Ads Call to Action

You're almost done. Don't forget to select "track all conversions from my Facebook Pixel" so you have insight into the ad's ROI. 

Insta Hint: Want to direct followers to your website without having to use the fabled "link in bio"? Verified accounts have the added benefit of adding a link to their Stories, which the user can access by simply swiping up.

Growing with Instagram

At first, Instagram ads were only seen as a way to raise brand awareness. As the app grew and added more features for both users and advertisers, we started to see how the app could go beyond raising awareness and return some cold hard cash in the form of sales and conversions. The type of business models that Instagram will work well with may vary, but it is definitely worth giving the platform a shot: as of December 2016, Instagram has 600 million active monthly usersIf you're reading this and interested in digital marketing for your company, there is a good chance some of your target market uses Instagram.

When you advertise on Instagram you are harnessing the full power of Facebook's mighty user information stores. This means you can get ultra-specific to who your ad is displayed to, making sure it ends up in front of someone who has shown interest in a similar product or has certain online purchasing behaviors. Some ads will work, and some may not, but this is just the beginning of Instagram as an advertising powerhouse.

Insta Hint: Use a "Lookalike Audience" to target people who may be interested in you because they are similar to those who already are. For example, target those who are similar to customers who purchased a product from your online store, using Facebook Pixel data for store conversions as the source audience.


Instagram is by far my favorite app; it's devoid of most of the drama that a Facebook timeline entails, allows me to follow my favorite brands, and has different options that keep creativity on a high level. Many brands are fully utilizing both the paid and free side of Instagram for their own benefit, and it's up to you to maximize this platform to stay ahead of the game. If you haven't already, it's time to get your ducks in a row, dive into the Ads Manager, and crank out some high performing Instagram ads that will leave your team begging for more.