Instagram ads are posts that promote a business’s products or services. The posts can appear in multiple ways, such as an Instagram feed, stories, or both. They can include images or video along with copy and a link to the web page of the company’s choice. The main advantage of advertising on Instagram is that it uses data Facebook users provide about themselves to help your ads reach a highly targeted audience. (Facebook is the parent company of Instagram.)
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With over 1 billion users every month, Instagram is experiencing an all-time high in engagement and use. So how exactly are marketers using the platform? We’ll go through that in detail, starting with what Instagram ads are.
What are Instagram ads?
Put simply, they’re advertisements on Instagram’s social media platform, which Facebook owns now. You can choose to use either photos or video for your campaign, and you can run them in the regular scrolling feed or Stories feature.
Shortly after Facebook bought Instagram in 2013, the platform started offering ads to specific businesses. In 2015, it opened its advertising services to anyone.
Because Facebook has a wealth of data on its users, it allows businesses to curate and target their marketing campaigns. When creating a new ad, you can filter by age and region. But you can drill down a lot deeper, too, and choose an audience by city, interests, and whether or not they’ve engaged with your content in the past.
Advertising on Instagram is also relatively cheap compared to other mediums, and you can tailor your campaign based on your budget. Keep in mind that your ad cost will vary depending on which age group you’re targeting—and at what time of year. Ads created in the 4th financial quarter of a given year tend to be the most expensive.
Advantages of advertising on Instagram
Learning how to make Instagram ads has a lot of potential benefits. Here are some of the advantages of using Instagram advertisements:
- Increase your brand’s following. Running Instagram ads can help boost your brand’s following by making your business easier to discover. When people share your posts or your posts go viral, you can reach a very large audience.
- Easily communicate with followers. Because people tend to check their social media accounts often, Instagram can be a good way to communicate with your followers. You can use different types of Instagram ads to let people know about new products, new services, or any significant changes you’re making to your brand.
- Inexpensive advertising option. While learning how to run Instagram ads has a bit of a learning curve, these ads are relatively cheap. Advertising on Instagram can be a good way to get more bang for your buck when it comes to marketing.
- Smart targeting. You can use smart targeting to target specific groups of customers. Smart targeting can be effective if you have a specific target audience who may be interested in a product or service.
Instagram ad formats
There are currently 5 advertising options on Instagram for running ads:
- Stories ads
- Photo ads
- Video ads
- Shopping ads
- Carousel ads
- Collection ads
- Explore ads
- IGTV ads
- Reels ads
Which one is right for you depends on a number of factors, including what product or service you’re selling and what the goal of your advertising campaign is.
Instagram adopted a feature made popular by Snapchat called Stories, or short snippets of daily life shared in photos or video that disappear after 24 hours. The platform has opened this up as an advertising channel that you can use to display ads to consumers.
When you create a Stories ad, you can share either a photo or video. These are integrated seamlessly into the flow of Stories from other users that your target audience follows.
Stories offer a “swipe up” option for business accounts, which allows a link to be shared with the viewer. Users simply need to swipe their finger up on their screen to go where you’d like them to, whether that’s a blog post, product page, or landing page.
Brands using story ads can also use Stories’ other features like face filters, text, GIFs, and emojis to make their ads stand out.
These usually consist of high-quality photos of a product that are placed in a user’s feed. Their main objective is to draw attention to your product or service with eye-catching images that make people stop scrolling. This is an especially useful kind of ad when a brand has a strong and recognizable aesthetic.
To get potential customers to engage, photo ads have configurable buttons that can display calls to action like “learn more” or “shop now.”
These can be displayed in either Stories or Instagram’s main feed. They have the added benefit of grabbing attention though motion when they auto-play, even when the user’s sound is turned off.
Shopping ads, also known as shoppable ads, are ads that include a link to a product in your shop. For example, you can post a shopping ad that includes several of your products, so your followers can swipe from product to product and tap “Shop Now” if they want to buy anything.
This type of ad can use either photos or video to showcase your business. Instagram’s carousel feature lets you post multiple photos or video snippets that users can swipe through. You can get as creative with it as you’d like!
For instance, fitness gurus might show short workout clips. A makeup company could put up a slideshow of their products, and a real estate company could post a short virtual property tour. Like photo ads, these also have a handy call-to-action button.
Instagram introduced this feature in the beginning of 2018. Users can see the ad and tap on it, and when they do, they’re given the option to purchase specific products directly from the ad itself. Collection ads can use photos or video.
Explore ads are ads that are on the Instagram Explore page, which hundreds of millions of Instagram users view every day. One of the best parts about Explore ads is the fact that they blend in well, so the “Sponsored” text underneath your name is the only indicator that your post is an ad. Explore ads are great for showcasing products, especially with specific use cases.
IGTV ads are brief video ads that are shown to users browsing IGTV videos. These ads may be shown before, in the middle, or after a video. With IGTV ads, it may be better to post on Instagram from a PC. That way, you can edit and publish your video ad on the same device.
Reels ads are the newest type of ads on Instagram and are tied to the Instagram Reels feature. Reels are short videos with visual and audio effects—sort of like a TikTok video. Reels ads are a great way to reach a younger audience, plus they’re short, so it’s easier to keep people engaged.
How much does it cost to run Instagram ads?
Understanding cost is an important part of learning how to make Instagram ads. Instagram ad prices vary by pricing model, and there are 3 choices:
- CPC (cost per click)
- CPM (cost per impression)
- CPE (cost per engagement)
CPC can vary from $0.20 to $2, while CPM is typically about $6.70 per 1,000 impressions. CPE is usually $0.01 to $0.05 per engagement.
How to create your own Instagram ad
Now that you’ve learned how to advertise on Instagram and how much it costs, you might consider launching your own campaign.
To create an ad, follow these steps:
- Create a Facebook business page (if you don’t already have one). All Instagram ads have to be created in Facebook’s ad manager.
- Link your Instagram account to that business page.
- Choose your objective from a number of options, which include brand awareness, reach, traffic, app installs, engagement, video views, lead generation, and more.
- Select your audience.
- Choose where your ads will be placed.
- Choose your advertising budget and schedule.
- Create your ad by choosing the page that will post it, the videos, pictures and links to be included, and your caption text. This is also when you choose what format you want the final ad to follow: carousel, single image, single video, or slideshow.
Instagram gives you a lot of flexibility when it comes to budget, audience, and targeting, so use those features to your advantage.
Targeting your Instagram ads to the right people
You can choose a daily or one-time budget for your ads. Once you’ve decided, the ad manager will spend that money to place your ad where the algorithm thinks it’ll be most efficient.
For example, if the first couple days or weeks of data show your ad performing well during a certain day—or certain time of day—more of the ad money will be allocated to those spots for higher visibility during peak times.
Your audience is another important piece of the puzzle. You can narrow down who sees your ad as much as you want. For example, you could specifically target people between 18 to 35 living in New York City who love football, if your analytics suggest that they’re your most promising demographic.
It would be a waste not to use that power and data to get the best ad placement. This is why knowing your audience is so important. If you’re selling organic tea, you probably don’t want to target the same customers as a soft drink company.
It’s also important to make sure your ad aligns with the objective you chose when you first created the campaign. If all you want is to get more traffic to your website or let potential customers know who you are, Collection ads may not be the best idea. A short video introduction or a carousel of great photos might be a better choice.
Show off your brand and find new fans
Because Instagram is predominantly a mobile app, users access it on the fly and can be reached anywhere they have their phones. These days, that’s almost everywhere. Use the guide above to get your next campaign started.
With the right tools, you can learn how to make Instagram ads and ensure retargeting works for your business. Mailchimp’s suite of marketing tools can help you create effective, data-driven Instagram campaigns–allowing you to become an expert in no time. Check out our social media management tools to learn more about the Instagram advertising features we offer.