Similar to Facebook, Instagram ads appear throughout the app, including in users’ feeds, Stories, Explore, and more. They look similar to normal posts but always contain a “sponsored” label to indicate that they are an ad. They also often have more features than a normal post, such as links, CTA buttons, and product catalogs.
How much do Instagram ads cost?
The cost of Instagram ads is highly dependent on a variety of factors – there is no average or benchmark price. Some cost factors include:
Competitiveness of your industry
Time of year (costs often go up during holiday shopping periods in Q4 such as Black Friday)
Placement (costs can differ between ads shown on Facebook vs Instagram)
The best way to evaluate your budget is to set up a draft campaign in Ads Manager and look for the Audience Definition and Estimated Daily Results modules, which will tell you if your budget settings will be sufficient to reach your desired audience within your desired duration.
Note that there is no “best practice” for how much to spend. You can get started by spending just a few dollars a day, and scale up from there based on success.
In order to control the costs of your Instagram ads, you can set either daily budgets or lifetime spending limits. We’ll explain this in more detail in our 5-step guide below.
Types of Instagram ads
There are many different types of advertising formats on Instagram, including:
The wide range means that you can choose the best ad type that matches your specific business goal. Each ad format has its own selection of call-to-action options, which are listed below.
Image ads allow businesses to use single images to advertise their brand, products and services.
The best Instagram Stories ads are ones that look and feel like normal Stories and don’t stand out as ads. When designing Stories ads, businesses can use all organic Instagram Stories features like filters, text, GIFs, and interactive stickers.
Carousel ads feature a series of images or videos that users can swipe through. They can appear both in-feed and within Instagram Stories, with a call-to-action button or swipe up link that lead users directly to your website.
Collection ads are a combination between carousel ads and shopping ads. Collection ads showcase products directly from your product catalog.
Collection ads are best suited for ecommerce brands, as they allow users to purchase products directly from the ad. When a user clicks on the ad, they’re directed to an Instagram Instant Experience Storefront where they can learn more about the product and proceed to purchase.
Explore ads appear within the Explore tab, an area of the platform where users discover new content and accounts that are tailored based on their Instagram usage habits. More than 50% of Instagram users access Explore every month, so it’s a great place to gain exposure.
Instagram Explore ads do not appear in the Explore grid or the topic channels, but rather are shown after someone clicks on a photo or video from Explore. As the content in users’ Explore tabs is constantly changing, Explore ads allow businesses to be shown alongside culturally relevant and trending content.
Explore ads can be both images and videos.
Pro Tip: No need to design brand new assets for Explore ads. You can simply re-use existing assets.
IGTV ads are video ads that play after a user clicks to watch an IGTV video from their feed. Videos can be up to 15 seconds long, and should be designed for vertical full screen viewing (more IGTV ad specs).
They are shown midroll (in the middle of the video), potentially with the option to skip.
IGTV ads are currently available to users with Instagram Creator accounts in the US, UK, and Australia, with more countries rolling out soon. Creators can opt in to having ads shown in their IGTV videos, and receive 55% of the advertising revenue generated from each view.
With the successful launch of Reels, Instagram recently announced the ability to advertise within Reels.
Ads are shown in between Reels, with similar specs to Stories ads (full screen vertical videos), and can be up to 30 seconds. They should include sound or music to be well-integrated with organic Reels.
How to choose the best Instagram ad type
With so many different ad types available, it can be overwhelming to select one to use for your campaign. The good news: Ads Manager is well set up for experimentation, which means you can test multiple formats and see which one performs best before running a full campaign.
To narrow down the formats, use these questions to guide you.
Drive ecommerce purchases, app installs, or email signups?
After clarifying your goal, you can choose some potential formats based on the supported objectives and call-to-action options for each ad type. For example, Stories, IGTV and Reels ads are better for driving video views, while Shopping and Collection ads will be best for driving ecommerce purchases.
Bonus: Download a free pack of 8 eye-catching Instagram ad templates created by Hootsuite’s professional graphic designers. Start stopping thumbs and selling more today.
Depending on who you wish to target with your Instagram ads, some ad types may be better than others.
Think about your audience’s habits and behaviors. Do they like watching lots of videos? Are they avid online shoppers? Do they spend more time watching Stories and Reels instead of scrolling through their feed?
Choose ad types with objectives and call-to-actions that match your audience’s natural preferences.
3. What has performed best on organic?
Chances are that your organic followers have lots of similarities to the audience you’ll be targeting with your Instagram ads. So, look to your organic feed to see what types of content have performed well, and that can give you a good indication of what paid formats might resonate with your audience.
How to advertise on Instagram
There are two routes for creating Instagram ads campaigns: promoting a post and Ads Manager. Promoting an existing post only takes a few taps and can be done right from the Instagram app, but lacks the customization options available in Ads Manager.
Instagram advertising method 1: Promoting a post in-app
The easiest way to start advertising on Instagram is to promote one of your existing Instagram posts. This is similar to Facebook’s Boost Post option.
If you have a post that’s performing well in terms of engagement, promoting it within the app is a quick and easy method to scale up the post’s success—and show it to new people who aren’t following you yet.
In this step, you’ll choose how much you want to spend and how long your campaign will run.
For your budget, you’ll have two options:
Daily budget: Set a maximum daily spend, useful for always-on ads
Lifetime budget: Set a maximum spend for your whole campaign, useful for ads with a clear end date
Under Ad Scheduling you can choose to run ads continuously (most common), or only at certain times of day (for example, if you’re a food delivery company and only want to run ads in the evening when your audience is most likely to place delivery orders).
As you adjust these options, you’ll see the Audience Definition and Estimated Daily Results modules in the right-hand column which will give you an idea of expected reach for your chosen budget. Try to choose settings so that your ad set falls in the middle of the green range.
Step 3: Identify your audience
The next step is to define your audience targeting. In this step you can either Create a New Audience or use a Saved Audience.
Saved Audiences are useful if you have your own custom audience data (i.e. past website visitors) or past audiences from previous campaigns that performed well. If not, you can create a new audience based on demographics, interests, and behavioral targeting.
In the Placements section, you can decide where your ads will appear.
There are two options:
Automatic Placements: Ads will be shown to your audience wherever they’re likely to perform best.
Manual Placements: You can choose specifically where your ad will appear (and not appear). If you want to limit your ads to show only on Instagram (not Facebook), you can choose this using Manual Placements.
Here’s where you can select your manual placements:
While previewing placements, Ads Manager will display the technical requirements for each one. To ensure your visual assets are optimized for each format, see our guide to social media image sizes.
Step 5: Create your ads
Now it’s time to create the actual ad. Start by choosing your Facebook Page and corresponding Instagram Account. Then you can select your preferred ad format.
Then, proceed to fill out the rest of the details under Ad Creative:
Choose your pictures or videos (unless you’re using an existing post)
Input your ad copy
Select a payment option
Review your ad
At this step you will also choose the call-to-action button and enter the URL where you want to send people who click on your ad.
If you want to track conversions from your ad, it’s important to select the Facebook Pixel in the Tracking section. Once connected to your website or app, your Facebook pixel will allow you to see insights about how your audience interacts with your business after clicking on your ad.
When you’re ready, click Confirm to launch your Instagram ad.
Best practices for Instagram ads
Now you have everything you need to know about setting up and launching Instagram ads. The next step is designing effective visual assets for your ads.
Here are some tips for how to design attention-grabbing creative for Instagram ads.
When capturing video content, make sure to film in vertical (9×16) as this is easier to crop to 4×5 than from landscape
Minimize the amount of text in your ads
If you do add text, choose large font sizes that are easy to read on mobile screens
Add animations and motion graphics to videos to quickly engage viewers
Keep videos short (15 seconds or less)
Keep branding and messaging upfront
The first few seconds of your ad will determine whether a viewer will stop scrolling and watch the whole thing. That’s why it’s important to start your ad with the key message and showcase your branding within the first 3 seconds.
Use sound to delight
40% of users consume social media with sound off. As such, it’s important to design your ads for sound-off consumption, and to use sound to delight users who do have sound on. Here’s how to do that:
Use visual elements to tell your story and deliver your key message without sound
Add captions for any voiceover or scripted audio
Use text overlay to deliver your key message without sound
Facebook is the number one social media site for driving conversions, which makes creating effective Facebook ads an integral part of your social media strategy. Follow these 11 tips to convert your next Facebook campaign into a success.