Ah, Instagram Stories – the one-stop shop for finding short, engaging content from high school friends, celebrities, and big brands.
With over 500 million daily active users, Instagram Stories is an undeniably powerful opportunity to connect with new audiences.
And if you’re not using Instagram Stories as a marketing tool, then this is what you should do. In fact, Instagram reports that of the 500 million accounts using Instagram Stories, a third of the most viewed Stories are from businesses.
I can personally attest to the power of Instagram Stories to drive purchase decisions. For example, the other day I was mindlessly scrolling through stories when I came across an ad for Crest 3D Whitestrips with a $ 50 discount coupon. I swiped up to buy without ever leaving the app itself.
Learn what Instagram Story Ads are and how to run Instagram Story Ads for your own business. We’ll also explore Instagram story ad examples and best practices to make sure your ads are performing as well as possible.
What are Instagram Story Ads?
Instagram Story Ads are vertical ads that you can run in Instagram’s Stories feature. (To summarize, Instagram Stories are photos and videos that are visible to the audience of an Instagram account for 24 hours and are published separately from the content of your Instagram profile.)
Instagram lets you target your ads based on reach, video views, traffic, conversions, app installs, and brand awareness. In addition, unlike an Instagram organic story, an Instagram Story ad does not go away after 24 hours – instead, you can choose the duration of the campaign and the frequency of the ads on the Facebook ad platform, just like any other ad made for Instagram or Facebook was created.
An Instagram story ad fits seamlessly into a user’s stories viewing experience. Plus, a user doesn’t have to follow your account to see your branded ad. For example, I don’t follow Crest on Instagram, but I was shown a Crest ad anyway.
You have several options for ad formatting, including video, photo, or carousel. A video ad plays for up to 15 seconds, an image ad plays for five seconds, and a carousel ad lets brands play three separate pieces of content (video, photos, or both) within an ad.
If you are still not convinced about running ads on Instagram Stories, here are some facts to consider:
If you are convinced that Instagram ads could be a good platform for you, next let’s dive into how you can run your own Instagram story ads.
For the full rundown of everything Instagram advertising related, check out our guide below:
How to run Instagram story ads
1. Go to your ad manager and click on “Create” which will lead you to the “Quick Create”. If you want, you can switch to “Guided Creation” instead.
2. Next, choose a marketing goal – your Instagram Stories options include Brand Awareness, Reach, Video Views, Conversions, App Installs, Lead Generation, or Traffic.
3. In the Placements section, you want to select “Automatic Placements” with Instagram Stories selected by default. However, if you choose Manual Placements, check the box for Stories under Instagram.
4. Next, set the budget and schedule for your ad.
5. Next, you want to select Single Image or Video or Carousel as the ad format.
6. Add video or pictures to your ad and complete all other details, including a heading and description. If you want, you can use Stories templates that will automatically convert your image into an ad and add motion to grab the viewer’s attention.
7. When you are satisfied with your ad, select “Confirm” to complete the process.
Instagram Story Ads: cost, spec, and length
There are three separate areas where you can post an ad on Instagram: Stories, Feed, and Explore.
In this post, we’ll focus on the cost, specifications, and length of an Instagram Stories ad.
First, all feed photo and video dimensions in stories are supported (from 1:91 to 4: 5). However, an aspect ratio of 9:16 is recommended to match the full-screen portrait orientation of stories.
In addition, .mp4 or .mov is recommended for video ads, and a .jpg or .png file type is recommended for photo ads.
If you are creating a video ad, a file size of 4 GB is recommended – and a file size of 30 MG is recommended for a photo.
If you’re creating a video ad, the length cannot exceed 120 seconds. When viewing a photo, the default image display time is five seconds.
Finally, the recommended resolution is 1080 x 1920 with a minimum size of 600 x 1067.
Instagram ads, including Instagram story ads, average $ 0.70 to $ 1.00 per click – although the cost varies by industry, day of the week, time of year, target age and gender, ad placement, and many other factors. In some cases, Instagram ads can exceed $ 5.00 per click.
Fortunately, you have a lot of control over how much your ads cost by setting a pre-determined budget. You can choose your budget based on how much your company is willing to spend on a daily basis, or based on the total cost you want to spend throughout the life cycle of a campaign.
What consumers want to see in Instagram Story Ads [New Data]
It’s important to note: when planning your own Instagram advertising campaign, you should consider the type (s) of ads that will work best on the platform.
For example, in a recent survey by HubSpot, we found that 50% of Instagram users prefer image-based ads which show product photos and light text – followed by 31% who prefer video-based ads that showcase real customers.
Perhaps most interestingly, the majority of users (80%) don’t necessarily care whether an ad includes a discount or a coupon. This suggests that Instagram users are more interested in engaging, engaging content that highlights the benefits of a product.
User preferences vary depending on the target group, industry and message. However, remember to keep this data in mind when preparing your own story ad. When in doubt, try A / B testing to see what types of ads your own target audience prefers.
Now let’s move on to some other best practices.
Instagram Story Ads Best Practices
With four million active advertisers on Stories as of January 2020, it will take a lot to make sure you stand out and get results.
Here, let’s dive into some best practices that you should follow when designing your own Instagram Story ad.
1. Pay attention to speed.
Facebook reports that Instagram Stories are consumed faster “than any other mobile format”. People’s attention is severely limited when reading stories, especially as the content has a 24-hour time limit before it disappears forever.
Because of this, you should make sure you get straight to the point and grab the viewer’s attention from the very first picture. Unlike other forms of content, the tension is usually not effective here, especially since images cannot be longer than five seconds and videos have a limit of 120 seconds. You want the viewer to jump right into the message you want to deliver.
2. Add movement to your ad.
Facebook reports that “Ads that use motion perform better”. Movement captures viewers’ attention and can help you tell a story faster than a static image. Even if you’re using animation, think about how you can add motion to create more engaging content.
3. Make sure you are using sound in your ad.
60% of the stories are viewed with the sound switched on. So make sure you use sound in your ad to provide optimal value to your audience. Think about how you could use music, sound effects, or voice over to grab the audience’s attention in new ways. If you’re not sure which keys are best for your ad, try A / B testing to see what your target audience prefers.
4. Create your Stories ad first instead of trying to re-use an existing ad for a different industry.
It can be tempting to just copy and paste the ad you’ve already created for the Facebook or Instagram news feed, but this can make for a less than ideal experience for those who see your ad on Instagram Stories. For one thing, your ad may not follow Instagram Story size best practices, resulting in important parts of your ad being cut off. Additionally, you should play around with exclusive story features to make sure your ad is as effective as possible.
5. Use your call-to-action wisely.
Ultimately, your Instagram Stories ad won’t be effective if it doesn’t include a clear call-to-action for viewers to follow. You could use language such as “Learn more,” “Shop now,” or “Swipe up” to encourage viewers to act, depending on your target. For example, if your goal is brand awareness, “Learn More” simply tells viewers that you do want to educate them about your brand’s offerings, which is a very different CTA than “Shop Now”.
Check out the examples above for more CTA inspiration.
6. Add text to highlight the key message.
Including text is a best practice for accessibility in general as it helps hearing impaired viewers decipher the message of your ad. In addition, text can help highlight your key points – for example, Aveeno’s text “Get Healthy Looking Skin Every Day” illustrates the key point and convinced me to buy.
7. Test mobile recordings.
Facebook reports, “Mobile recordings outperform studio recordings in terms of recall and intent, while studio recordings tend to lead to higher brand awareness.” For this reason, consider going without fancy studio gear when recording and editing videos directly on your mobile phone.
The majority of users consume Instagram content from their own smartphones, so you can also try creating content on the same device. And don’t be afraid to test this theory for your own brand A / B in case of doubt.
For more advertising best practices in general, see The Ultimate Guide to Mastering the Basics of Effective Social Media Advertising.
Examples of Instagram Story Ads
Below, I’ve gathered a few impressive examples that I’ve found on my own Instagram story feed. While most of these examples are bigger brand names, there are plenty of small and medium-sized businesses that are using Instagram
Aveeno’s Instagram ads are clean and simple, with neutral colors – aside from the brand’s signature green – that draw attention to the brand’s daily moisturizer. The ad includes a short clip of a hand pointing at a shopping cart with a swipe “Shop Now” link. The ad focuses on the brand’s product rather than distracting them, so it’s effective for anyone who scrolls and feels like topping up their moisturizer.
2. Miller Lite
This is an example of an ad tailored for me, a 27 year old woman from the Boston area. First, the ad includes a call for the Boston Celtics that immediately caught my attention. As soon as I’m intrigued, the display changes to a picture of their lite drink with the text “Great taste, only 96 calories, 3.2g of carbohydrates”. In this example, the ad does a good job of drawing my attention to the things that matter most to me: namely, low-calorie alternatives to beer (and Celtics).
3rd home club
This responsive, fast-paced ad shows several different outfit options on screen with the text “Keep what you love, send back the rest”. The ad features a few different outfits, from dresses and cardigans to dress pants and heels, to grab the attention of a wider range of people than would be possible with just one style. With the plain white background and legible black text, it’s easy, clean, and hard to miss.
I mean come on … who doesn’t love a puppy? This fun, clever Febreze ad shows an adorable puppy on a couch with the text “Refresh where they roam” with his Febreze product at the bottom of the screen. While most of the other ads on this list featured muted, plain colors, Febreze goes for bright blues, greens, and purples and invites a sense of playfulness and fun into the user’s feed.
5. Tractor Beverage Co.
What I love most about the Tractor Beverage Co. Instagram video is the ending, which has a different call-to-action than most of the others on this list. Instead of “Shop now”, this display reads “Now available from Chipotle” with a swipe function “Find out more”. As a lesser-known brand, Tractor Beverage Co. cleverly aims to use their advertising space to increase brand awareness so that the next time you are close at your favorite schipotle, you can try their drink.
6. Coat of arms
If you have the funds, it makes a lot of sense to include a coupon or discount on your Instagram Story ad like Crest does in his 3D Whitestrips ad. The $ 50 discount encourages viewers to buy now so they don’t miss out on the deal, and the fun, bright colors are effective in grabbing viewers’ attention. Given the limited time available to an Instagram story, it makes sense for these brands to get straight to the point.
Kayak, a travel search engine, created this stunning, engaging Instagram Story video ad to demonstrate how easy it is for Kayak users to filter flights by airline, price, cabin seat, and destination. Kayak delivered the ads to similar audiences based on the characteristics of its current website customers and saw a 5x increase in sales conversions and a 50% increase in overall ROI with combined ad placements in Instagram Stories, Instagram’s Newsfeed and Facebook’s News.
And there you have it! You are all ready to create your own inspirational Instagram Story ad. Remember – you know your brand and audience better than anyone. Use these best practices and examples as inspiration, but don’t hesitate to A / B testing to find out what works best for your unique business and social media goals. Good luck!