Ultimate Guide To Running Instagram Ads

running instagram ads

Ultimate Guide To Running Instagram Ads



In this article, I walk through all of the different ad formats available on Instagram and the corresponding campaign objective options for each format. We’ll then dive into ad buying and how that process differs on desktop vs. in Instagram’s mobile app. We’ll then provide some best practices for creating ads that will convert into real business value. Lastly, we’ll cover off how to leverage Ads Manager and Instagram Insights to analyze your campaign performance.


Photo Ads on Instagram tell your brand’s story through a clean and simple creative canvas in square or landscape format. With this ad format, there is a variety of CTAs available to drive interaction and engagement from your audience, including Book Now, Contact Us, Download, Learn More, Shop Now, Sign Up, Watch More, Apply Now.

Photo Ads that contain images with little to no image text tend to cost less and reach more people than ads with image text. If you need to include text in your image, try using fewer words and/or reducing the font size of your text. Keep in mind that if your text is too small, it may be difficult to read. Make sure most of the text you use is in the body text instead of directly on the ad’s image. The recommended image size is 1,200 x 628 pixels and image ratio 1.91:1.

Use the link in the resources section to check if your image will be approved by Facebook.

running instagram ads

Video Ads on Instagram are visually immersive ads with sight, sound and motion that can be up to 60 seconds long in landscape or square format. There are a few more CTA options available on Video Ads, such as Shop Now, Learn More, Get Showtimes, Sign Up, Book Now, Download, Watch More, Send Message and Listen Now.

When creating or selecting a video to use, the aspect ratio should be 1:1, video compression at H.264, the caption can only contain text (i.e. no emojis) and should be within 125 characters. The thumbnail image you select should also match the aspect ratio of your video, and finally, as with Image Ads, your image should include a minimal amount of text otherwise this will affect the reach of your ad.


Carousel Ads on Instagram allow users swipe to view additional photos or videos in a single advert. With Carousels, the CTAs available are: Apply Now, Book Now, Contact Us, Download, Learn More, Send Message, Get Showtimes, Request Time, See Menu, Shop Now, Sign Up, Watch More, View Instagram Profile and Listen Now.

For Carousel ads, there are some specifications you need to be aware of in order to deliver a successful ad. For starters, images/video in Carousels are referred to as ‘Cards’ and the minimum cards allowed for a Carousel Ad is 2, with a maximum of 10. Images should be 1,080 x 1,080 pixels and your caption can only contain text (no emojis!) and should be less than 125 characters.


Story Ads on Instagram are immersive, full-screen vertical format adverts that appear after a user has viewed an Instagram story. Users will only see Story Ads between stories when they are in the immersive viewer and they disappear after 24 hours. Users will not see the ad preview in the tray before clicking into the immersive view.

CTAs available for Story Ads include: Apply Now, Book Now, Buy Now, Buy Tickets, Contact Us, Download, Learn More, Shop Now, Sign Up, Watch More, Install App, Install Now and Use App.


Story Ads come in two formats; a single image or single video and have some pretty specific requirements. Videos must be in a vertical format (9:16) and the recommended video resolution is 1080 x 1920. If your Story Ad is a video, the maximum file size is 4GB, but for image-based Story Ads, the maximum file size is 30MB. The maximum length for videos is 15 seconds and images can be displayed for a maximum of 3 seconds each.


Now that we know all the different Ad Formats available, let’s talk through the campaign objectives that Instagram offers and how they correspond to each ad format.

  • The objectives available for Photos Ads are Brand Awareness and Engagement. For Video Ads they are the same, but you also have the option of a Video Views objective as well.
  • For Carousel Ads, your objective options are App Installs, Brand Awareness and Conversions.
  • And for Story Ads, the available objectives are: Reach, Video Views, Traffic, and App Installs.


When it comes to creating and buying ads for Instagram, Ads Manager is the easiest place to go (see the direct link in the resources section). Instagram Ads can be created and bought just like with Facebook Ads. Start by choosing a marketing objective (noting that not all objectives align with Instagram ads), then name your ad campaign. After that, define your audience, placements, budget, and schedule. And finally, create your ad (or use an existing post).

Given Ads Manager is so comprehensive, it’s easy to get lost and sometimes hard to find where exactly you need to go in order to make sure your ads only run on Instagram. To do this, when in the Ad Set level, select ‘Placements’ from the menu on the left and then navigate to the Instagram drop-down menu in the centre of the page. If you do only want your ad to run on Instagram, make sure you de-select the other platform placement options (e.g. Facebook, Audience Network, Messenger).


Action Point

I know you might agree with some of the points that I have raised in this article. You might not agree with some of the issues raised. Let me know your views about the topic discussed. We will appreciate it if you can drop your comment. Thanks in anticipation.



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About Adeniyi Salau 883 Articles
I am an IT enthusiast and a man of many parts. I am a Certified Digital Marketer, Project Manager and a Real Estate Consultant. I love writing because that's what keeps me going. I am running this blog to share what I know with others. I am also a Superlife Stem Cell Distributor. Our Stem Cell Products can cure many ailments.

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