More than 1.35 billion people around the world use Instagram. That’s a lot of potential eyeballs on your brand. Instagram ads let you reach more people, show up in your target audience’s feeds, and drive conversions, traffic, and click-throughs with eye-catching visual assets.
Here’s how you can use Instagram ads to your advantage with ecommerce examples and a handy step-by-step guide.
What are Instagram ads?
Instagram ads are paid-for posts that promote your business, products, or services. Ads can be shared to a feed or Stories and can feature images, text, graphics, and video—whatever showcases your business best. Unlike regular Instagram posts, Instagram ads allow links that direct users to a URL of your choosing.
How do Instagram ads work?
Since 2015, anyone can create Instagram ads through Facebook’s self-serve advertising platform. You have total control over your ads, how they appear, and who sees them—and unlike sponsored posts and paid partnerships, your ads get posted directly from your own account.
The advantages to this method of Instagram advertising include:
- Scalable pricing
- Easy-to-use self-serve ad platform
- Robust reporting, so you’re in control
- Highly refined audience targeting
There are two options to create Instagram ads. You can turn any post into an ad with Promote, which is similar to Facebook’s Boost button. You only need to decide where to send people when they click your ad, who should see it, and how much you want to spend.
Or you can create campaigns with Facebook Ads Manager, which is an all-in-one tool for launching ads across Instagram, Facebook, and more.
Instagram ads can have a significant impact on people’s buying behavior. Recent research revealed that 70% of Instagram users turn to the platform for their next purchase. So whether you are a big business or a small one, you can create an affordable campaign that finds new customers and increases sales for your business.
How much do Instagram ads cost?
Research by Revealbot shows the average cost of Instagram ads:
- $1.44 cost per click (CPC)
- $12.35 cost per one thousand impressions (CPM)
But average cost-per-click also differs by campaign objective. As you can see below, Instagram ad CPC can range between 13¢ and $7.98, depending on your objective.
Average CPM also changes depending on your campaign objective. The study by Revealbot shows that CPM can range between $2.62 and 27.52 or more per thousand impressions.
Overall, good results depend on your target audience, your industry, and the ads you use. There’s no one true benchmark. It’s also important to note that Instagram ad costs can depend on how expensive your product is. Chances are, if you are selling a $50 product, it’ll be less expensive to acquire a customer than if you are selling a $1,500 product.
Consider two things about your Instagram ads: how much you want to spend on a campaign overall, and how much you want to spend for a result. This way, you won’t be surprised by unexpected costs and can test campaigns to get the best results.
Types of Instagram ads
Some common types of Instagram ads you can run are:
1. Photo ads
A photo ad is one simple photo in landscape or square format. These are the simplest ads in terms of visual asset needs, since you just need a single image. Here’s an example of a photo ad from jewelry brand Clocks + Colours that takes Instagram users to a landing page to claim their military discount for use in-store.
2. Video ads
Instagram used to have a 15-second limit for videos, but it has since lifted that rule. Now, videos can be up to 60 seconds long and shot in landscape or square format. The tinned-fish company Fishwife uses the video ad format in its Instagram advertising to promote its limited-edition anchovies.
3. Carousel ads
An Instagram carousel ad can have anywhere from two to 10 images and/or videos that users can view by swiping through. Here's an example from ILIA Beauty.
4. Collection ads
Collection ads are similar to carousel ads in that they appear as a scrollable reel of images. With these ads, however, you can link to different product pages from each image—perfect if you’re promoting a collection of products, like Gymshark is here with its athleisure staples.
5. Story ads
Instagram Stories are similar to Snapchat in that they allow users, and brands, to share self-destructing photos and videos (Stories disappear in 24 hours).
Brands can also advertise on Instagram Stories with photo or video content. Online skin care brand RoseSkinCo. uses Instagram Stories to promote its upcoming sales.
6. Reels ads
Reel ads are a full-screen vertical experience, similar to Story ads. They appear in between a user’s Reels and last up to 30 seconds. Instagrammers can like, comment, save, share, skip, and view them. A great example of an Instagram Reels ad comes from Allbirds.
7. Explore Ads
Explore ads do as they say on the tin—they show up on the Explore page on Instagram. They look like any other post but present the opportunity to reach new audiences who are actively looking for something in their Explore feeds.
Instagram ad campaign objectives
You can choose from several campaign objectives when advertising on Instagram. These objectives are potential goals for your Instagram ad campaign that you select from a list. Don’t neglect this choice; it will influence how your Instagram ads are optimized and how you pay for them. For example, if your goal is to get people to watch your video, you probably don’t care how many users click on your link.
You may already be familiar with campaign objectives from creating Facebook ads. Options include:
1. Brand awareness
When you want to drive awareness to your business, product, app, or service on Instagram, the objective formerly called “awareness” is now a part of this objective. The brand awareness objective supports image ads, video ads, carousel ads, slideshow ads, and Story ads.
The “reach” objective can also increase awareness of your business, product, app, or service. But reach is slightly different from brand awareness in that it allows you to reach a larger audience, whereas brand awareness is more targeted to users who are likely to recall your ad or brand.
You can use the traffic objective to drive visitors to your website. If you have a mobile app, this is also effective for driving app engagement. The objective formerly called “website clicks” is now a part of traffic. You can also use this objective to create an offer for your audience. The traffic objective supports all Instagram ad types.
4. App installs
Unsurprisingly, the app installs objective is ideal if you’re trying to get users to download your app. You can use any Instagram ad type with the app installs objective.
Engagement is another objective you can use to promote offers—it’s also effective at promoting your Instagram account and posts. Image ads, video ads, and slideshow ads are your options under the engagement objective.
6. Video views
If you’re running a video, carousel, slideshow, or Story ad, you can use the video views objective to promote the video. This is an effective objective to drive awareness for your brand and products.
7. Lead generation
Instagram ads with a lead generation objective are great for collecting information from users, like their email addresses, so you can market to them in the future. This objective supports all Instagram ad types.
The conversions objective is a great choice for ecommerce businesses that want to drive sales. The objectives formerly called “website conversions and dynamic ads” are now both a part of the current conversions objective. If you want to optimize for people completing a specific action in your app and you have the Facebook SDK installed, you should use conversions as your objective.
💡 Note: In order to use this objective, you need to have the Meta pixel installed on your website. If you don’t have one installed yet, you’ll get a message letting you know.
How to create Instagram ads with Ads Manager
- Link your Instagram business profile to your Facebook page
- Create an Instagram ad campaign
- Choose your campaign objective
- Identify your ad budget and schedule
- Choose your target audience
- Design your ads and create an Instagram ad set
- Select your Instagram ad placement
- Analyze and optimize your Instagram ads
Ready to get started? Here’s how to run ads on Instagram.
Step 1: Link your Instagram business profile to your Facebook page
The first step to creating an Instagram ad is to link your Instagram account to your Facebook page. You only need to do this once.
Visit the Business Settings for your Facebook Business page and click on Instagram in the left column. Then, click the Add button.
Next, click Connect Your Instagram Account. You’ll need a professional account for this to work. Then, follow the prompts to connect your account.
Step 2: Create an Instagram ad campaign
After you’ve linked your Instagram account to your Facebook page, it’s time to head over to the Ads Manager and create your first campaign. If you already create Facebook ads, much of this process will be familiar to you.
In the Ads Manager, click on the Campaigns tab and then the + Create button near the top left corner of the screen.
Step 3: Choose your campaign objective
Next, choose your campaign objective. Remember, only brand awareness, reach, video views, conversions, app installs, lead generation, and traffic objectives are compatible with Instagram Story ads.
Say you choose the Conversion objective. On the Ad Set page, you’ll be able to choose Purchase as the type of conversion you want to optimize for under the Conversion Event breakdown.
You can also choose to add an offer, which will help drive even more conversions on your ad.
Step 4: Identify your ad budget and schedule
Choose how much you want to spend on your ads and when you want them to run. At this stage, you can select either a daily budget or a lifetime budget for the whole campaign.
When determining how much you want to spend when you advertise on Instagram, start low. You can always increase the daily or lifetime budget later if your ad is performing well.
Step 5: Choose your target audience
Next, define who you want to see your ads. All the same targeting options are available for both Instagram ads and Facebook ads.
If you have any Custom Audiences already created, you can select them for targeting with your Instagram ad at this point.
Step 6: Design your ads and create an Instagram ad set
Before your ads are ready to go out into the world, you’ll need to design eye-catching creatives. The design will depend on the type of ad you’re creating (for example, you’ll need to design multiple images for a carousel ad versus a photo ad).
You’ll also need copy to accompany your ads and the URL you’re going to send people to when they click on the ad.
When you’ve got your visuals and copy ready to go, create a New Ad Set in the menu on the left.
Step 7: Select your Instagram ad placements
Next, select your ad placements. You’ll see the option to run your campaign on Facebook and Instagram, as well as on Audience Network and Messenger. Deselect everything except Instagram.
When you’re finished choosing what to optimize for, how much to spend, who to target, and which placements to show your ads on, click New Ad in the breakdown on the left or Next on the bottom right of the screen, if this is the first campaign you are creating.
On the next screen, you’ll see an option to choose your Instagram ad format. Once you’ve selected one, scroll down to upload your images or videos. After you’ve uploaded your visuals, scroll down further and you’ll see an option on the left to add text and a call to action (CTA) to your ad.
Finally, to the right of the text editor, you’ll be able to preview how your ad will look on Instagram. Once everything looks good, click Publish on the bottom right. Otherwise, go back and make changes.
Step 8: Analyze and optimize your Instagram ads
Your work isn’t complete after you’ve launched your first Instagram ad campaign. Once it’s running, you’ll want to monitor its performance and test ideas to find the campaign’s most effective messaging, creative, and targeting.
Within Ads Manager, you can edit your Instagram ad to incorporate split testing, change the targeting parameters, and view analytics for the performance of your ads.
The first Instagram ad is always the hardest. Once you’ve conquered the process, it’ll be much easier the second time around!
Instagram ad and selling tips
3 ways to buy and run Instagram ads
- In the Instagram app: Use the native features in the Instagram app to promote posts that you’ve already shared on your feed. Simply choose the post you want to promote and check back to see the results.
- Using the Instagram ads manager: Through the advertising tools on Facebook, you can set up and track your Instagram ad campaigns all in one place.
- Leveraging Instagram partners: If you want to hand over the task to a competent pro, find an Instagram partner who’ll handle everything from buying ads, designing creatives, and monitoring results.
Use advanced targeting techniques
Instagram ads have all the same targeting options as Facebook ads. These include targeting based on location, demographics, interests, behavior, and lookalike audiences, as well as automated targeting (i.e., let Facebook decide).
Even better, if you have custom audiences, you can target them on Instagram. Custom audiences are groups of people who have already connected with your brand in some way. This could be by visiting your website, engaging with your posts on Facebook, using your app, or sharing their contact info with you.
Test different ad formats
Testing different ad formats helps you uncover what ads work best for your audience. For example, if your target audience responds better to Story ads than regular image ads, you’ll want to put more money into Story ads. This will help you generate more business and get better results for less money.
Boosting posts vs. using the ads manager
If you want to promote a post quickly that’s already doing well or is linked to a promo you’re running, using the native boost function can be enough. You can monitor who sees the posts and track their performance, but there’s a lack of customization options. If you want to create a more complex campaign with a targeted audience and a specific objective in mind, the ads manager is a better option, but it may take more time to set up.
Optimize your budget
Use Facebook’s campaign budget optimization to optimize the distribution of your budget across a campaign’s ad sets. This option lets Facebook continuously find the best opportunities for results across your sets and adjusts your budget automatically to get those results.
Instagram ad examples
Nutrition brand Wild Nutrition uses Instagram Story ads to share its welcome offer to new customers. It implements two different link features from Instagram to direct shoppers to its website.
Homeware brand Dusk uses a collection of images in a carousel format to showcase products that are on sale. Users can swipe through to find out more and explore the collection.
Sofa-in-a-box brand Snug uses a classic photo ad to promote a new product price. Users can click the Shop Now button to find out more.
Our Place runs a collections ad that features a selection of products from its line. Each product has its own slide and a link to its dedicated product page.
Getting the most from your Instagram marketing strategy
Link-in-bio tools, which allow you to create custom landing pages and URLs, are one way to help promote your products and online store from your Instagram bio profile. There’s also no doubt that Instagram ads can help marketers and business owners get great results. With Ads Manager, it’s easy to create ads that match your brand style and find your target audience in the Instagram app. You can also choose your daily budget and control ad spend, so you’re never caught off guard by ad costs.
Start today by running a small campaign for your business. By selling on Instagram, you’ll be leveling up your sales in no time. Take the time to get comfortable advertising on this social network and build your skills. You’ll soon see how Instagram marketing can find relevant, targeted customers and impact your bottom line.