A picture is worth a thousand words, but an Instagram ad can be worth thousands of dollars in revenue.
50% of users say they become more interested in a brand when they see an Instagram ad and are more likely to make a purchase. Companies like Gymshark, Bridestory, and Qantas have successfully leveraged Instagram ads to grow their businesses.
While Instagram ads look quite straightforward, getting them right is easier said than done. In this article, we explore 12+ Instagram ads best practices that will help you make your brand a success story.
12+ Best Practices for Instagram Ads
If you have ever pressed the ‘Boost Post‘ button on your Instagram feed to increase the reach of your organic content, you have already gotten a taste of Instagram ads.
After testing the water, it is time to dive into the world of Instagram advertising.
Here are 12+ Instagram ads best practices that will take your Instagram advertising from good to irresistible.
1. Use a modern toolset to help you with Instagram Ads
Many advanced social media marketing tools exist to ease the process of creating, publishing, tracking, and optimizing Instagram ad campaigns. Some can help you by automating tasks; others even leverage AI content creation.
Your competition probably uses such tools, and so should you!
Here are several great tools I recommend:
Smartly.io is an AI marketing tool that can handle everything about social media advertising – ad creation, budget allocation, and reporting.
This is a useful tool, especially for Instagram advertising and marketing strategy. From discovering high-impact hashtags to bulk scheduling Instagram posts and offering granular performance analytics, Flick Social is very helpful and a must-have.
This is your go-to tool for finding the perfect influencers. Influencity streamlines your campaigns and presents influencer analytics, ensuring every dollar spent is well-invested.
From background removal to adding texts and logos, Photoroom is a popular choice for many ecommerce businesses. It allows you to create eye-catching visuals that look professional. And all this – without the hassle of other design tools as it is easy and quick to use.
Sooner or later, you will need to get really serious about analyzing your Instagram ads metrics. Coupler.io is often used by marketers to automate reporting and analytics. Basically, it allows you to create ever-green Instagram ads reports that update automatically. It’s also useful for creating live cross-channel dashboards, like the one below.
As you can see, this dashboard shows metrics from several PPC channels. This allows you to analyze your ad campaigns across all your social media platforms, which is not possible with the in-built Instagram ads analytics.
We explain this in more detail in the Automate Instagram Ads reporting section.
Now, let’s move on to the other best practices.
2. Talk about your brand/product in the first 3 seconds
You only have 3 seconds before a typical Instagram user decides to scroll away. So, grabbing a user’s attention right away is essential.
Instead of using generic hooks, communicate about your brand or product in a unique way in the first 3 seconds. Even if the user scrolls past, the brand will be registered in their mind, increasing the brand recall percentage and brand awareness.
Here is an example of Plum, a skincare brand that recently launched a whole line of bath products. Their Instagram video ad looks like this in the first 3 seconds.
Straightaway, they directly show their bath products. This helps the user recognize the brand instantly and fulfils the Instagram ad’s goal, all while keeping it short and simple.
3. Use multiple ad formats
One of the key reasons to choose Instagram ads over other social media advertising platforms is its ad formats.
- Photo/Image ads – The cheapest and most cost-effective ad format for high-quality visuals. This ad format contains only a single image.
- Carousel ads – A series of images in a single ad. This ad type, mostly presented as feed ads, is the best for showing different angles of a single product.
- Video ads – As the name suggests, these ads have video content (mostly reels), up to 60 seconds.
- Instagram Shopping ads – Product tags can be added to the products shown in the ad, directing a user to your product page.
- Instagram Story ads – These are ads in the story format with ‘swipe up’ as the call-to-action button. They are best for creating urgency, like limited-time offers, as the stories expire in 24 hours.
Here are a few technical requirements you must consider while designing for different Instagram ad formats.
|Ad format||Image Type||Resolution||Ratio||Maximum File Size||Minimum Width|
|Photo/ Image ad||JPG or PNG||At least 1080 x 1080 px||1:1 or 1.91:1||30MB||320 px|
|Carousel ads||JPG or PNG, MP4, MOV or GIF||1080 x 1080 px||1:1 or 1.91:1||Image: 30MBVideo: 1GB||320 px|
|Video ads||MP4 or MOV||1080 x 1920 px or|
1920 x 1080 px
|9:16 to 16:9||Up to 4 GB||320 px|
|Story ads||JPEG or MP4||1080 x 1920 px||9:16||Up to 30 MB||320 px|
What worked for someone else may not work for your brand. Always experiment with multiple Instagram ad formats to find the ones that work best for your brand. You can learn more about the types of Instagram Ads in our separate guide.
4. Create ads native to Instagram
A user scrolling through Instagram should look at your ad as an organic post unless observing carefully. This helps in reaching more organic audiences. When you are not selling anything, Instagram is likely to push the ad to a new audience.
The video ad for this small business, ‘Glamzel,’ just looks like a regular reel from an influencer, piquing the interest of Instagram users.
5. Use storytelling techniques
If you have ever stayed and watched a complete Instagram ad without scrolling, chances are it had a good story.
As David Ogilvy said, “Great marketing is all about telling great stories.”
And it holds true even today in the age of digital advertising. As humans, we love a good story and will spend the time to complete it.
You can use storytelling in Instagram ads with carousels or a series of stories. Below is an Instagram ad example of Wolf and Moon Shop about Black Friday.
85% of Facebook videos are watched without sound. When Instagram users scroll through Instagram in quiet zones like a library or other public places, videos with closed captions help brands communicate easily.
Closed Captions are no longer an add-on or nice-to-have; they are a must-have in Instagram video ads.
An AgoraPulse study found that video ads with closed captions had 7.41% more 30-second views.
7. Place CTAs strategically
Although Instagram allows you to make videos up to 60 seconds, an average user will only watch 3 to 10 seconds. If you manage to grab a user’s attention in the first 3 seconds, then you have the next 3-4 seconds to convince the user and add the call-to-action at the mid-roll (8th second).
According to a study conducted by Wistia, less than 10% of advertisers choose to place CTA in the middle of a video ad. However, the conversion rates (~22%) are higher for these advertisers.
This timing matches the attention span of an average user with a high chance of engagement on your Instagram video ad. After 10 seconds, you can add more information about the product/brand and add call-to-action at the end of the video again.
Now you are sorted for Instagram video ads. What about the other ad formats?
Apart from the CTA at the bottom of the ad, add CTAs on the visuals or direct the user to the CTA.
8. Optimize Instagram ads for mobile devices
It is no secret that more than 80% of social media content is consumed via smartphones. This makes it an obvious choice to optimize Instagram ads for mobile devices.
- Mobile screens are smaller and cluttered visuals can confuse the audience. Use short messaging and large fonts to keep it clean.
- If your ad takes even a couple of seconds more than usual to load, then you have lost it. Compress images, keep videos short and snappy, and avoid complex animations.
- Make the CTA buttons big enough to tap but not so big that they distract the user from the ad content.
- Add captions so your message is not lost when the sound is off.
- Most importantly, always preview your ads in mobile screen format and adjust the visuals for a better mobile experience.
In the below example, you can see a cluttered photo ad on the left and a mobile screen-optimized video Instagram ad and photo ad on the right.
For more details, check our article on how to optimize Instagram Ads.
9. Leverage lookalike audience targeting
The easiest way to find potential customers on Instagram is by creating a custom audience and targeting specific interests and demographics.
But if you already have website visitor data, previous ad campaign data, or any audience interaction data, then lookalike audience targeting is a jackpot for you.
All you need to do is input the existing audience interaction data, and Instagram will automatically show your ads to people similar to your existing audience. Lookalike audiences take the top percentile of visitors that share the most common traits as the seed audience.
Along with finding the right kind of audience, lookalike audience targeting results in higher conversions and ROI.
10. Measure and optimize campaign performance
Instagram advertising works differently for every brand. The results of Instagram ads are based on algorithms dependent on continuously updating online data.
The best way to tackle this and benefit from Instagram algorithms is by A/B testing and measuring the results for different ad formats, visuals, audiences, and copy.
Below, we list some of the most important Instagram ad metrics to track:
|Instagram Ad Metric||Definition|
|Click-Through Rate (CTR)||This measures the percentage of people who click on the ad after seeing it. A high CTR usually indicates compelling content.|
|Conversion Rate||This goes beyond clicks to indicate how many users took the action you wanted them to take, like making a purchase or signing up for a newsletter.|
|Cost Per Click (CPC)||This shows you how much you’re paying for each click. The lower, the better.|
|Impressions||This metric shows how often your ad was on someone’s screen.|
|Reach||This is the number of unique users who have seen your ad.|
|Engagement Rate||Likes, shares, and comments can give you insights into how people react to your ads.|
You can check these metrics on Instagram Ad Insights and Facebook Ads Manager. You can also use third-party social media tools like Hootsuite or a data analytics solution like Coupler.io. The latter is often used by ad and marketing professionals to automate reporting.
We’ll discuss how to use Coupler.io to build automated reports and make data-driven marketing decisions in the next section.
11. Automate Instagram ads reporting
Why automate Instagram ads reporting and how do you do this?
Automating reporting is actually pretty easy and can be done within minutes – you just need to use the right tool. But let’s start with “why” first.
Although Facebook Ads Reporting helps pull real-time Instagram advertising data and basic insights, customization opportunities and data visualization are very limited, . While it gives a good overview of the basic metrics, it does not present some custom metrics you might need for in-depth understanding.
Also, as a business, you probably run ads on different platforms like Google Ads, LinkedIn Ads, and more. Often, it’s the same campaign that you run on multiple channels. With the native reporting features, you cannot build a cross-channel report for this scenario.
This leads to the hassle of manually exporting ad data from all your channels and combining it somewhere in a spreadsheet. That’s quite inconvenient when you have to do this repeatedly. So, I recommend using a data analytics and automation tool like Coupler.io.
Coupler.io can automate your PPC reporting entirely. You can have a self-updating Instagram ads report, as well as cross-channel PPC report in a spreadsheet or data viz tool.
- More specifically, Coupler.io can automatically collect data from 70+ apps, including many ad and marketing sources.
- Then, it can transfer this data to your report in spreadsheets (Excel, Google Sheets), data viz and BI tools (Looker Studio, Power BI, Tableau), or data warehouse (BigQuery).
- It can also be used to transform your data, blend information from different ad platforms, and automatically update your reports on a schedule.
All this makes Coupler.io a popular tool for marketers, ad professionals, and SMM managers. Automating your reporting and analytics helps you make data-driven decisions about your digital marketing strategy and improve ROAS.
When you have an automated cross-channel report, you always have access to the latest metrics in one place. This means you don’t have to waste time collecting information manually or checking metrics on each platform separately. As a result, you can make smarter decisions faster and adjust your bidding or campaign settings as soon as you see what works best and what doesn’t.
Now, let’s take a closer look at how you can get your Instagram ads automation up and running in just a few minutes.
Building an automated report – a step-by-step overview
First, sign up for Coupler.io (no card required). Then, you can select your data source from the drop-down list and choose the destination. It can be Looker Studio, Power BI, Excel, Google Sheets, or BigQuery. If you go with Google Sheets, it can be connected to Tableau and other tools.
Once you connect your Instagram account, data will be pulled automatically. In the next step, you can preview and edit your data. For example, filter, sort, and rearrange columns for better insights.
Coupler.io can merge ad data from several ad platforms into one dataset. For instance, you can combine information about the same campaign run on Instagram, Facebook Ads, Google Ads, Microsoft Ads (Bing Ads), and so on. Then, you can schedule automated updates, and data in your report/dashboard will be refreshed automatically.
After this, you can visualize your data in a data viz tool or create a custom report in spreadsheets. Thanks to Coupler’s direct integration with Power BI and Looker Studio, you can build interactive ad reports like the one in the example below.
This data visualization is powered by Coupler.io, which pulls fresh data from several ad platforms automatically so, this dashboard always shows the latest data from all your ad platforms. Many marketers use this approach, so I recommend trying it as it’s already becoming one of the industry standards.
That’s it! The automation part takes literally minutes. Building visualizations can require a bit more time, but you can simplify this step with an automated template. Check out our free dashboard templates, they might be helpful for your reports.
Now, let’s move on to the next best practice.
12. Follow Instagram advertising rules
After putting all the effort into creating the perfect Instagram ad, it can break your heart to see it disapproved.
Even worse is not knowing why it was disapproved. One simple and generic advice from Instagram advertising experts is to follow the Instagram ad policies and rules.
Navigating these policies can be time-consuming, so below are quick pointers to remember.
- Your Instagram account should be set up as a business account.
- Follow the ad dimensions as mentioned in #3 Instagram ads best practice.
- Use high-quality visuals.
- The landing page should match the product/service shown in the ad and should not have pop-ups.
- Do not use personal attributes in the ad copy like ‘Looking to get slim?’ or ‘Never be poor with this!’ Instead, talk about services like ‘Check out our investment planning services.’
- Your Instagram account should be at least 30 days old.
Read more about Instagram ad policies.
Even after being careful and mindful of Instagram ad policies, if your ad is still rejected or disapproved, check the reason for rejection, edit it accordingly, and submit it for re-review.
Bonus Tip: Use unconventional visuals
It only takes a few seconds for any regular Instagram user to identify an Instagram ad on the platform.
The online world is full of ‘seen that, read that.’
You can say the right thing about a product, and nobody will listen. You need to say it so people feel it in their gut.
Unconventional visuals and copy in your ad will make the target audience stop and think, ‘Wow, what’s this?’
Here is an example from McDonald’s – they used a unique visual to grab users’ attention. The ad is about welcoming the summer McDonald’s style.
Another example is Uber – which used user-generated content in their Instagram ad, resulting in many shares.
One of the effective ways to create unconventional visuals and copy is to think out of the box and try various creative techniques to help you.
And don’t forget to check out the tools we mentioned at the beginning of the article – some of them are great for brainstorming ideas for creative content!
Streamline your data analytics & reporting with Coupler.io!
Coupler.io is an all-in-one data analytics and automation platform designed to close the gap between getting data and using its full potential. Gather, transform, understand, and act on data to make better decisions and drive your business forward!
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- Access data that is always up to date by enabling refreshing data on a schedule as often as every 15 minutes.
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- Easily track and improve your business metrics by creating live dashboards on your own or with the help of our experts.
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Maximize ROAS with Instagram Ad Best Practices
This article covered almost everything you need to know to win at Instagram ads. We covered 12+ best practices for Instagram ads, from grabbing attention in the first three seconds of your video to tailoring your ads for mobile users. One of the non-negotiable best practices is to measure and optimize continuously. Knowing how your ads are performing in real-time and monitoring your metrics daily is the key to getting more out of your ad spend.
Coupler.io makes this easy for you. It helps build automated real-time ad reports to make data-driven decisions and keep the ROAS needle moving in the right direction. With Coupler.io, you can build automated custom reports and dashboards that pull all your ad data into one place for easy analysis and monitoring.
Good luck with your Instagram marketing!Back to Blog