How to Use Instagram Ads



Instagram is one of the best social networks to advertise on. It has grown to be just as big of an advertising platform as its parent company, Facebook.

As of April 2017, Instagram hit over 700 million monthly active users.

That’s more than double the monthly users who are active on Twitter.

Your best bet for Instagram success is to share stunning visuals and high-quality photos.

This approach creates opportunities for nearly every kind of company. After all, even brands in the most boring industries can post pleasing images and videos to captivate an audience.

They can do this even if they don’t have a tangible product.

Add in a branded or targeted hashtag and you’ll be connecting with your ideal customers in no time.

But if you’re not sure how Instagram ads work, you may be feeling overwhelmed.

If you’re not quite sure how to use Instagram ads or you’re worried about how much they cost, read on to find out how you can run effective Instagram ads on any budget. Why you should advertise on Instagram

Instagram is growing and it’s growing fast.

It doesn’t look like it’s going to stop anytime soon, either.

As a matter of fact, the number of companies using Instagram for marketing has almost doubled since 2016.

And as of March 2017, 1 million accounts were advertising on Instagram using the business profile feature.

In March of 2016, just a year earlier, only 200,000 accounts were advertising. That means the total number of advertisers on Instagram grew by 5x in just one year! See How My Agency Can Drive Massive Amounts of Traffic to Your Website

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And this incredible growth is all for a good reason.

Marketers know it’s worth it.

Instagram mobile ad revenues could reach $2.81 billion in 2017, according to a study by eMarketer. This would account for a whopping 10% of Facebook’s total revenue.

So Instagram is not only growing considerably, but it’s also bringing in some serious cash for businesses.

It’s attracting tons of big brands because it’s well worth it to advertise there.

But even if you’re not a multi-million dollar brand, Instagram ads are still just as important for you to use (if not more important).

Here’s why any size business should consider Instagram as a way to promote their brand, services, or products:

  1. Anyone can advertise on the platform.

  2. You can target audiences with Facebook data since Facebook now owns Instagram.

  3. Audience engagement is limitless. Businesses can interact with users in the comments section of their photos.

  4. Ads look just like any other shared post on Instagram, which makes them feel less conspicuous.

Whether you want to increase brand awareness, get more clicks to your website, generate sales, or boost downloads of your latest e-book, Instagram can help you reach a huge audience. There’s a total of six ad formats you can choose from.

Four are Instagram feed ads, while the other two are for Instagram Stories ads.

Here’s how to use each type, starting with the four kinds of Instagram feed ads.

Instagram feed ads

Instagram feed ads consist of:

  • Photo Ads

  • Video Ads

  • Slideshow Ads

  • Carousel Ads


Facebook Ads Manager, where you would normally upload media files, lists the recommended sizes for images and video.

Let’s start out with photo ads.

1. Photo ads

Single-image ads allow you to create up to six ads containing one image each.

How to create them:

Compared to carousel ads, single image ads are pretty easy to make.

Start out by selecting the image(s) for your ad. You can browse your image library, upload a new photo, or use a free stock image.

Then, just add in your caption for the ad in the text field.

The caption can include up to 300 characters. Any text after the third line will turn into an ellipsis (…) that users have to expand in order to view the rest of the caption.

Facebook recommends sticking to 125 characters for these ads.

If you want to send people to your site from the ad, click “Add a website URL.”


Then, just enter your website’s URL and select a CTA button. You can disregard other fields such as Display Link, Headline, and News Feed Link


Description since they don’t apply to Instagram ads.

Video ads are very similar to photo ads.

2. Video ads


Single-video ads consist of a video or a GIF. How to create them:

Once you select this format, choose your video or upload a new one.

Then, choose a video thumbnail from the images selected by Facebook from the video or upload a custom one.


If you want to add video captions, then upload an SRT file. Just like you would in a photo ad, include a caption for your video in the text box. Just remember that the same rule applies to the caption length: it’s best to stick with 125 characters.

If you want to send traffic to your site, add your website URL and select a CTA button.

Now, let’s discuss slideshow ads.

3. Slideshow ads

Slideshow ads are basically video ads on a loop with as many as 10 images (with music). It’s similar to a carousel ad that scrolls on its own. How to create them:

Upload a slideshow from your library or create a new slideshow using the slideshow creator in Facebook Ads Manager.

You simple have to upload images, arrange them, adjust your settings, and add in music.

Choose a thumbnail, then a caption and add a website URL if you want.

You can even use an existing post from Facebook for an Instagram ad. This tactic is great to keep in mind for Facebook posts that performed well in the past.

You can also use carousel ads to showcase several images or videos at a time.

4. Carousel ads

Carousel ads consist of two or more images or videos. How to create them:

Add in your caption, which will stay the same no matter what image a person is viewing when scrolling through the ad.

Then, you’ll want to create the cards for the ad. You can add up to 10 cards in a single ad.

For every card, upload an image, video, or slideshow.

Then, fill in the headline, which will be the first line of your caption. This text can be different for every card.

Leave the description blank and add in a destination URL for your CTA button.


Leave the “See More URL” and “See More Display URL” fields blank since they’re for Facebook carousel ads.

Choose a CTA button that is the most appropriate for the entire set of images since it will be the same for every card.

If you need design recommendations, guides, and tips for carousel ads, check out this Facebook Business Help page.

You should also add lead forms to every ad on Instagram.

Add lead forms

No matter which ad format you decide to run, you’ll want to create your lead form.

You can use one you’ve already created or you can make a new one.

To create a new one, here are the fields you’ll have to fill in:

  • Welcome screen

  1. Headline

  2. Image

  3. Layout

  4. Button Text


  • Questions

  • Privacy policy

  • Thank you screen

  1. A website link for people to visit after completing the form


Once you have completed these fields, click “Finish.”

You won’t be able to edit the lead form once you’ve clicked this button, though. If you aren’t finished with a lead form, use the “Save” button instead.

Now that we’ve gone over the different forms of Instagram feed ad formats, let’s talk about the ad formats for Instagram stories.

Instagram Stories ads

Instagram recently opened up Instagram Stories ads to businesses across the globe.

Instagram Stories ads will appear in between people’s Stories.

There are two different Instagram Stories ad formats: Single image and single video.

To create Instagram Stories ads, you’ll need to choose the “Reach” objective and select “Stories” in the placement section.

1. Single image

With this format, you’ll be able to make up to six ads with one image each. Each ad looks exactly like an Instagram Story post with text at the bottom that says, “Sponsored.”

How to create them:

Instagram stories ads are pretty straightforward. You just need to upload your images. That’s it!

If you want to enable pixel or offline tracking, change your selections under “Show Advanced Options.”

Next, let’s tackle how video ads work on Instagram Stories ads.

2. Single video

With this format, you’ll be able to upload a video or GIF that’s up to 15 seconds long. How to create them:

Upload your GIF or video and select a thumbnail.

The thumbnail you select will be the image that people will see before your video plays, so be sure to pick a clear, high-quality image.

Again, you can enable pixel or offline tracking by clicking “Show Advanced Options.” And that’s it.