Skip to content

Using Instagram Stories Ads

There are currently four types of ads you can run on Instagram:

  1. Photo Ads: The simplest of the bunch, this is a photo in landscape or square format that shows up in the users feed.
  2. Video Ads: This kind of ad is also shown in the user’s feed. It can be up to 60 seconds long in landscape or square format and the audio will play automatically if the user’s sound is on.
  3. Carousel Ads: These ads include up to four more photos people can view by swiping.
  4. Stories Ads: These are photo or video content that show in the Stories feed between other user’s Stories.

It’s the last one we’re focusing on today. First offered to a handful of companies in 2016, Instagram Stories ads have been available to all advertisers since the spring of 2017. These full-screen ads appear between user’s Stories and audio will play automatically as long as the user has their sound turned on. Stories ads may not be a new offering but they are the newest offering from the social media company which is why many brands have not yet taken advantage of them. If this is you or your client (even if you’re skeptical!), keep reading.

Instagram Stories Ads: Why to Create Them

With more than 500 million daily active users worldwide, it’s no secret that Instagram is one of the most popular social media networks and, more importantly, it has high engagement rates. What does this mean for your brand? Exposure. Because there are so many users on the platform, even if you have a larger following on another social media platform, Stories ads have a good chance of getting your brand in front of consumers who may not have heard about you yet. There are several ways of accomplishing this one of which is ad targeting.

Because Instagram is owned by Facebook, you get highly-refined targeting options when you run any type of ad, including Stories. Beyond the usual targeting options like location (city, state, country, etc.) and demographics (gender, age, and language) you also get options such as:

  • Behaviour: Options based on the way users behave on Instagram and Facebook
    Interests: Information such as other accounts they follow or ads they engage with
    Custom Audiences: Ads to customers in your database based on email address or phone number)
  • Lookalike Audiences: Where data for existing customers is used to create “lookalike” audiences of users who are similar to known customers, thus more likely to be interested in your brand)
  • Automated Targeting: Where Instagram creates an audience for the advertiser based on “a variety of signals including location, demographics and interests”).
    You can also base your campaign on business objectives which include website clicks and conversions, app installs, video views, brand awareness, local awareness, and reach and frequency.

Stories ads are also a great option for brands just dipping their toes into the advertising pool and for brands experimenting with new aesthetics or audiences. This is because the minimum budget to get started is low so you don’t have to invest too much without first getting data feedback.

Lastly, many advertisers are relieved to learn that advertising posts allow for clickable links. That’s right – No more directing your audience with the “Link in bio!” directions we’ve all gotten used to seeing in regular Instagram posts. In Stories ads (and all Instagram ads), users can now be directly linked to whichever page you choose, making it that much easier for them to buy from you. If you’re a product-based business, Stories ads also gives you the option to tag your products via Shopify, providing a seamless customer checkout process.

Instagram Stories Ads: Getting Started & What to Measure

Step-by-step instructions are available on Facebook but we’ve got some pointers as well. Begin your Stories ad strategy with some market research. Consider what your competitors are doing, the tone that complimentary brands are taking, and how users are engaging with each of them. While you won’t copy the work of others, there’s no need for you to start from scratch as these insights can be quite helpful when crafting your own Stories ad strategy.

The next step is to design your ad. Whether you opt to use a still photo or a video, you want to grab users’ attention immediately so choose a high-quality visual that evokes the feeling of your brand via colors, filters, and sound; you want something that users won’t quickly click past so make it stand out! Include simple yet rousing messaging that clearly identifies what your company can offer the user. Keep in mind that a still photo ad will last for 10 seconds and a video will last for 15 seconds. If you’re looking for examples of Stories ads design or you are interested in getting some professional assistance, be sure to take a look in our Social Shop.

Once your ad is designed, it’s time to set up the campaign from your Facebook Ads Manager page. Here, you’ll choose your objective and the audience then set your preliminary budget and (finally!) begin delivering your ads. Keeping in mind that one of the benefits of Instagram ads is that you don’t have to invest too much money right away, feel free to set a conservative, fixed budget and adjust accordingly weekly or monthly as you watch how your campaign performs. After your campaign is complete, study the stats you’ve collected and evaluate the results so that you can apply lessons to your next campaign.

If you understand the needs of your customers and potential customers, Instagram Stories ads present an excellent opportunity for you to reach them in a relevant and engaging way. So tell us, what are your experiences with or questions about running this type of advertising campaign? Let us know by getting in touch, leaving a comment below or tagging us on Twitter @StickyPause!