Ultimate Guide to Using Instagram Ads

Instagram. The hashtag tool. The content hub. The social media giant. Often times, Instagram is thought of as a category creator for photographers, designers, and influencers. But it’s much more than that. It’s also become a powerful tool for marketers to sell and boost engagement around their product. 

Enter Instagram ads. At their core, these ads are no different from the traditional advertising you see on TV commercials, billboards, and magazines. Except for one thing: they’re on Instagram. Which means everyone is seeing them — instantly. With more than 1 billion active Instagram users every month, plunging into the pool of Instagram ads may be in your favor. Find it out (and more) with this ultimate guide. 

Why ads? Why Instagram? 

Advertising goes way back. Some may say it began in the 16th century when newspapers and magazines were going around — circulating content, news, and… ads. Others may say it started in 1941 when the first TV commercial appeared at the start of a Dodgers v. Phillies baseball game. The commercial was for Bulova clocks and watches. 

We know what you’re thinking. Why? Everyone turns commercials off anyway, so why would we pour thousands — maybe even millions — of dollars into advertising? As you can probably imagine, there’s more than just one reason for America’s love for ads: 

  • Reach. Advertising increases your overall reach. Sure, it may seem like people are annoyed when an ad flashes up on their favorite show. But in reality, every time a logo or cheesy slogan is put out into the world, your overall reach increases. 
  • Boost profits. When people see your product, they want it. Advertising helps drive revenue for the frontline of your business. 
  • Brand awareness. You know how everyone says Kleenex instead of tissue? That’s because Kleenex has established itself as THE brand for tissues. That’s called brand awareness, and it often comes from advertising and marketing initiatives. 

Sold on advertising? We sure are. Now let’s get to the second question: Why Instagram? 

Traditional advertising is great, but social media advertising is making waves in the industry for a few reasons. 

  • It’s cheaper. Okay, not always. You can easily break the bank on any kind of advertisement, but Instagram ads are less curated than most traditional ads — like the ones you see on TV or in magazines. Instagram ads are a lot more real, similar to the types of promotions you’ll see through Instagram Stories, IGTV, and now, Instagram Reels.
  • It’s visible. Instagram has more than 1 billion monthly active users. To get your content in front of even 1% of those users means 10 million people seeing your ads. We’re not saying an Instagram ad will get in front of 10 million people, but to put it into perspective, it’s a LOT. 
  • It drives more followers. Advertising with Instagram kills two birds with one stone. While you’re driving sales from your pristine ads, you’re also driving more followers. It may not be a revenue driver, but more followers ads to your brand awareness and brand loyalty. 

Types of Instagram Ads 

When a business decides to start using Instagram ads, there are several different types to choose from. You’re not restricted in your advertising like you may be with traditional print ads. There are 3 main types of Instagram ads: 

  1. Photo ads 

    Straightforward and simple, photo ads are just what they sound like: a photo showing off your brand or your product that will come up in followers’ feeds. The great thing about Instagram photo ads is they require a fairly low level of effort. You can easily incorporate your brand identity and photography principles into your Instagram photo ads without breaking the bank. 

    The only downside is they typically don’t perform as well as other ads — video ads being a prime competitor. On average, Instagram photo ads only receive one comment for every 1,000 followers

    When to use Instagram photo ads: When you’re in a time crunch or on a budget, these ads will do the trick. Don’t expect comments and likes to be at an all-time high, but you can rest easy knowing you’re getting your business’s name out there and you’re showing off one of your products. 

  2. Video ads 

    Here’s another in-feed advertisement: Videos. These are typically your scroll-stopping, sometimes click-bait, ads that are designed to capture an audience quickly and showcase your product within the first 3-5 seconds. 

    On average, engagement triples when you use video ads (as opposed to the photo ads we just talked about). What can we say? Video is hot. The only caveat: it requires more work and time to stitch together a video advertisement. Typically, we’re talking about several thousand dollars for production, talent, and editing — which could range from a low-budget $5,000 video to a full-scale production at $70,000. 

    When to use Instagram video ads: You’ll want to invest in video ads when you have the time and the budget to plan out an ad (or a few ads) that will be part of a larger campaign. These ads aren’t best for one-off campaigns or marketing experimentation. Instead, be intentional and strategic with your video ads — because when they’re successful, they’re REALLY successful.

  3. Carousel ads 

    Who doesn’t love a good carousel? Well, turns out a lot of people don’t. 
    Don’t get too scared, though! This doesn’t mean you should write off carousel ads altogether. Just know that there’s a time and a place for them. See, the thing about carousel ads is they take more time for followers to look at. Instagram users are used to processing tons of pieces of information every second, so the concept of stopping to scroll through several images can be deterring at first. 

    That is, if they’re not interested in your product in the first place. Carousel ads are great for anyone who is looking for a company or product like yours because it gives them ample information about what you offer. That’s where targeting comes into play, so if you’re able to target your Instagram ads, definitely use this to your advantage for carousel ads. 

Ready to get started?

Now that you’ve gotten a peek into the world of Instagram ads, you might be ready to jump the gun and start posting ads for your business. No matter what type of ad you’re going for, always remember that strategy comes first. If you need help getting your strategy off the ground and running, we help all kinds of individuals and companies create strategies that work for their businesses. Want to see what we can do for you?

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