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Types of Instagram Ads: What You Need to Succeed

Over the last decade, social media advertising has grown from a simple solution to the digital marketing powerhouse mostly dominated by Meta and LinkedIn. And that’s partly due to Instagram, a part of Meta’s network, being incredibly popular — not just as a social media platform, but recently as a marketplace.

As users flock to the platform for commercial information, we as marketers have to find ways to capitalize on this trend.

Let’s start with exploring paid Instagram advertising and the types of ads you can run. This article will explain what your options are in terms of advertising and will walk you through creating different types of IG ads.

What are Instagram Ads

Instagram ads are posts, stories, and reels that businesses can pay to display on Instagram to a select audience. This definition can include influencer marketing, i.e. ads that are placed organically in an influencer’s post or story and marked as advertising.

Sometimes, the term Instagram ads is used to refer to all types of ad placements that you can do in Meta Ads Manager. This includes placing ads on Facebook, Messenger, and WhatsApp, as well as placements on third-party sites.

Instagram ads are the best way to gain new audiences quickly and reengage subscribers or people who already know about your ecommerce business.

There are many different options when it comes to Instagram ads. Let’s now explore the different types of Instagram ads out there.

Types of ads on Instagram

Instagram ads can be broken down into several types: the type of content you can show in an ad and the type of placement you can choose for an ad. Here, we’ll discuss both of these in detail.

Types of Instagram Ad content format

According to the kind of visual content you can serve in an ad, there are four types of Instagram ads:

  • Image ads
  • Video ads
  • Carousel ads
  • Collection ads
  • Instant Experience (IX)

Instagram image ads 

Single photo ads are the most basic way of presenting your products or services on Instagram. This type of ad features a single photo that illustrates your product, a short description, and a call-to-action button. Here’s how Instagram Reels ads can show on your feed.

1 reel ad

Image ads can be served with no issues across all placements on Instagram. The only thing you’ll have to pay attention to is the image format. Images, like all media on Instagram can be presented in square format (1080×1080 or 1:1 aspect ratio) for posts and vertical format (1080×1920 or 9:16 aspect ratio) for stories or reels.

If you only have a vertical photo, it will be cropped for posts. If you only have a square image, Instagram will serve it in a vertical format with a monotone background.

2 photos in different formats

It’s best to resize your images to fit both Instagram ad formats to avoid cropping and having a boring background.

You can also upload media in two other formats — landscape (1080×566 or 1.91:1 aspect ratio) or portrait (1080×1350 or 4:5 aspect ratio). Both of these will be served in Instagram Posts as is but will have a background in Instagram Stories ads to compensate for different sizes.

Instagram video ads

Instagram video ads follow the same principles as photo ads. You can upload videos in all four formats mentioned above, with the square being best for posts and vertical for stories and Instagram Reels.

Videos seem to have much better performance indicators, for instance, this HubSpot test found that video ads receive 20% more clicks. Video ads can also attract more views because they’re more engaging and may intrigue more viewers to pay attention to them.

This makes them a great choice for all types of businesses. Companies that offer mobile apps and games typically use video ads to show gameplay or the features of their app.

3 video ad post

Instagram carousel ads

Both videos and images can be posted together as a carousel. This type of ad format includes up to ten images or videos that users can swipe through. Here’s what it looks like in a post.

4 photo ad in post

In Instagram Stories, Instagram carousel ads will be served as multiple stories.

5 story ad

If you choose to place carousel ads in Instagram Reels, they will be automatically transformed into a video containing all the photos you added to the carousel.

This is a great format to show multiple products of yours or show a single product from different angles. You can attach a different landing page link to each photo in the carousel if you choose to show multiple products.

One thing you should be wary of is the image size. Carousels will be formatted to the size of the first image in it, so make sure you either use the same size for all images in the carousel or choose a larger image to go in the front. This will prevent cropping of your images.

Instagram collection ads

Another type of ad you can serve to showcase multiple products is the collection. Collection ads are served as a cover image with several images below.

6 collection instagram ads

A major difference with the carousel is that you can’t leave a link in these ads, you can only send Instagram users to an Instant Experience.

Instagram Instant Experience (IX)

If you want to showcase more products in a single frame and browse an Instant Experience, this is a great choice.

IX is one of the destinations you can choose for any Instagram ad along with a website link or a WhatsApp chat. With an IX, you can create a fast-loading mobile business page to let users explore your store and products. 

7 instant experience

Apart from using these templates, you can create a custom Instant Experience with the following elements.

8 custom ix components

This type of Instagram ad lets you expand the experience of users who engage with your ads and makes it easier for them to engage with your products before converting.

Types of Instagram Ad placements

According to the place on the platform where your ads are served, there are several types of Instagram ads:

  • Feed ads
  • Profile feed ads
  • Explore ads
  • Explore home ads
  • Stories ads
  • Reels ads
  • Search results ads

Single image/video or carousel posts in square or landscape format can be served in a user’s personal feed, in somebody’s profile feed, or in the Explore feed. Vertical photos and videos can be served in stories or reels.

Posts can also be shown in the search results or Explore home like this.

9 explore ad instagram 1

Since the Instagram app is a part of Meta and ads for both Instagram and Facebook are managed from a single Ads Manager account, you can also place Instagram ads on Facebook and Messenger.

With Facebook, you get to choose between multiple placements on the site just as with Instagram. Messenger ads add a new type of advertising format — a sponsored message. This message will be delivered directly to a user’s inbox where they can start an interaction with your business.

Another placement you could choose is Meta Audience Network. In this case, ads will be served outside Meta platforms. Audience Network includes thousands of websites and apps that partner with Meta for advertising.

Choosing placements on Advertising Network or Facebook Reels might be a difficult decision in terms of branding. The thing is, these are dominated by news content, and in some cases, it may be upsetting or controversial as in showing tragedy, profane language, or other controversial topics you wouldn’t want to be seen before your ad.

To combat this, you can opt for an inventory filter that only allows your Instagram ads to be served next to a set of defined topics.

10 content exclusion filter

You could also add specific publishers to a blacklist to avoid serving your ads next to their content. But seeing that there are tens of thousands of publishers, blacklisting all potentially negative content is practically impossible.

One last thing to keep in mind is that not all placements are available for every campaign goal. For instance, choosing the Brand awareness objective prevents you from serving ads on the Meta Audience Network.

11 placement not available

You can find what Instagram Ad placements are available for which campaign goals on the Facebook business help portal.

Now, the last type of Instagram ad is something you can’t get through the Facebook Ads Manager — influencer advertising. These are not PPC ads, instead, they’re organic posts made by influencers that you cooperate with. They have to be marked with the #ad hashtag.

12 influencer ad instagram

It’s a valid form of advertising on Instagram, but since it’s not directly related to traditional PPC advertising, we won’t be focusing on influencer marketing too much.

What types of Instagram Ads you need

Now that you’ve learned about the different types of Instagram ads, you might be thinking ‘what type of ad do you actually need‘. The answer to that is more complicated than it may seem at first.

Instagram ads best practices indicate that a well-rounded marketing strategy should include multiple placements and formats.

The objective of Instagram ads is not to show your ad at a specific placement like Instagram feed or Instagram stories. The objective is to show it to specific people, a target audience who might be more interested in your products or services than the general population. Where exactly you reach them is not that important.

There’s also no data that indicates some Instagram ad placements are better than others. So narrowing down ad placements to a single position is likely to hurt your ad campaign. The more you narrow down the placements, generally, the more your costs go up. And it won’t necessarily be translated into better results.

Meta’s Advantage+ placements work pretty well, especially when you give the advertising algorithm more placements to choose from. It will survey all the possible bids at that moment, and serve your ads in the format and placement that will likely produce a better result.

That said, there are reasons why you would want to exclude some placements from your ad campaign.

Types of ads if you want to focus on Instagram

Many people who advertise on Instagram own a website and want to point users to the website to make a purchase. That’s not always the case, though.

If you don’t have a website yet and you only sell through your Instagram storefront, it doesn’t make much sense to place ads anywhere except Instagram. The best ad placement in this case is only within the Instagram app.

You can choose to only show your ads on IG by choosing it in the “Platforms” section of your Ads Manager.

13 ad placements options

Types of ads if you don’t have the appropriate imagery

To serve ads across all placements, you need to provide creatives that can be used for both image and video posts of different formats. That’s the ideal scenario, but sometimes, you don’t have a great video for the campaign.

In this case, you might want to exclude Reels from the campaign placements because showing a few square images instead of a vertical video might be just a waste of the advertising budget.

It’s best to give it a try anyways at first, though. You don’t know how any particular campaign is going to turn out, and in some cases, a series of images transformed into a video works just as well as a great video would.

Types of ads if you want to scale down the campaign

Another reason you’d want to restrict ad placements or formats is if you don’t have that huge budget and you want to focus on what works best.

For example, you ran your campaign with all placements in Instagram, but after a while, you found out that one particular creative served in stories produces the most results. So you decide to only continue with this placement and cut out the rest.

It can potentially save you money in the short term, but it’s not the best long-term solution. Instagram’s Advantage+ system will favor the best-performing combination of ads, so you won’t be saving that much money. And not running advertising at full capacity restricts experimentation so you might not find an even better-performing ad combination in the future.

Types of ads if you’re concerned about brand image

Now, lastly, if you’re concerned about your ads being served close to potentially incendiary content, you might want to cut out Audience Network and Facebook Reels placements completely. There are systems in place to try and prevent your ads from being served close to unsavory content, but it doesn’t always work.

So if you’re super cautious about this, deselect these two placements.

Instagram Ad pricing

Instagram ad pricing is pretty complex and the price you end up paying for each ad would be slightly different based on a variety of factors. Here are the most important ones:

  • How much you’re willing to bid
  • How much competition there is in your niche
  • How relevant your ad is to the audience
  • How audiences react to the ad

The type of ad influences Instagram ads cost as well. Instagram feed ads are the most expensive ones at an average cost per click (CPC) of $1.86 and a cost per thousand views (CPM) of $7.27. That’s almost twice that of stories and Instagram Explore ads.

Since most ad campaigns use multiple placements, the pricing evens out.

According to a survey of social media marketing experts, the average cost of advertising on Instagram is up to $6 per thousand views and $0.75 per click. Even if you only have $500 per month on Instagram ads, you’ll be receiving over 600 clicks or 83,000 views each month from that small budget.

The best way to keep the cost of serving Instagram ads lower is to use Instagram’s Advantage+ placement system and automated bidding. These systems will automatically figure out what will produce the best results and lower average prices.

How to create different types of ads on Instagram

In Meta Ads Manager, each single ad is nested within an ad set, and ad groups are nested within an ad campaign. To create different types of ads on Instagram, you need to first create an ad campaign. After that, Meta will take you through a step-by-step process of creating your ads.

Log into your Ads Manager account and create a new campaign. After naming it, choose the campaign objective from the list. It features different goals from driving traffic to your site to app installs.

14 campaign objectives

At this stage, you can also set a hard limit on lifetime campaign spending.

Then, go to the ad set setting and choose where you want to drive traffic.

15 instagram traffic options

In the same settings panel, you can configure the performance goal — what Meta’s algorithms will try to maximize in this ad set.

16 instagram performance goal

Here, you can also add daily or lifetime spending limits for the ad set, the start and end date of the ad, as well as audience targeting and placements.

For placements, follow our in-depth guide above to decide whether you want to let Meta decide where to serve ads or you want to configure placements manually.

The most important part of this menu is the audience. Your success will largely rely on targeting the right people. If you’re not an experienced Instagram marketer, it’s best to choose the Advantage+ audience — this will let Meta test and configure the audience fit for your campaign.

Even if you choose Advantage+, you can give it a framework to work in. Add details about your audience that you want to be followed strictly. It’s best to keep it broad, like defining the country the ad should target or target audience demographics.

You can also give it suggestions — rough ideas of what your audience can look like that it won’t necessarily follow strictly. For instance, you can indicate the interests your audience might have.

17 instagram interest targeting

Now, all you have to do is go to the individual ad, select an Instagram account that you want to run ads on, select the type of Instagram ad you want to make, and start creating it in the editor.

18 ad creative

You’ll have to upload images or videos, add marketing copy, and select a CTA button.

To create more different ads targeted towards the same audience, create a new ad within the same ad set. You will need to create a new ad set to target ads to a different audience.

How to track the performance of Instagram Ads

The easiest way to track the ad performance of the different types of Instagram ads is with Ads Manager. You can add Meta pixels to individual ads to track conversion better. Pixels are bits of code used to measure the effectiveness of campaigns even more closely.

You can track all of your ad campaigns, and sort them by any variable that you want. And that’s a decent way of monitoring performance, but you can take it a step further.

You can save time on reporting by using with your Ads Manager account. This is a data automation solution that can import any performance metrics from the Ads Manager to a BI tool of your choice like Looker Studio, or to a spreadsheet.

This is handy if you want to automate a single report from Instagram and see it presented in a visual and easy-to-understand way. It’s even more important for cases where you run PPC ads on different platforms and you don’t have a way of comparing them.

You can connect advertising accounts from Meta, Google, Bing, and more into a single dashboard to compare and contrast your PPC performance across all platforms. Check out this PPC dashboard template by that you can use for your analytics.

The best part is that can be set up once and will run on a schedule updating this dashboard forever — no actions are needed from your side.

Is there the best type of Instagram Ads to go with?

Instagram ads have multiple types, but you can’t single out the best type of Instagram ad among them. Each serves its purpose and has its place within a successful Instagram ad campaign.

The important thing to do if you want to get the most out of different types of IG ads is to analyze performance as you go. This will allow you to understand each type of ad better, prepare better creatives for the next campaign, adapt, and ultimately Excel.

A data analytics solution is a must to optimize your PPC campaigns on Instagram, no matter what type of ads you’re running.

If you want our team of data experts to create a data analytics solution for your business, then book a meeting with them and discover how it can save you money.

  • Borys Vasylchuk

    Performance Marketing Expert with 6+ years of experience, primarily in B2B/SaaS products. My main goal is to make ads profitable for businesses. I embrace a full-stack user acquisition approach, including running ads, designing ad creatives, optimizing landing page experience, and measuring analytics. Apart from that, I enjoy traveling, listening to various genres of music, and collecting vinyl records🎵

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