How to Run Ads on Instagram in 2020: A Beginner’s Guide to Using Instagram Ads

With a potential audience of more than 1 billion people, Instagram ads are a key tool for any digital marketer. With access to the parent company Facebook’s extensive targeting options and tools, Instagram advertising is an effective strategy to generate new leads.

In this post, we will walk you through everything you need to know about how to advertise on Instagram, including an option to create your first ad with just a couple of taps.

What are Instagram ads?

Instagram ads are posts or stories that a business pays to promote to users’ Instagram feeds. They can look just like regular Instagram posts but are always identified by a “Sponsored” label. They can also include a call-to-action button to drive traffic or conversions.

Some Instagram advertising types include additional e-commerce features. We will explain those later in this post.

How much do Instagram ads cost?

There is no single answer to the question of how much Instagram ads cost. Many factors impact the cost of your Instagram ads, including:

  • targeting
  • ad placement
  • ad format
  • time of year

AdEspresso found that the average cost per click for most ad placements was $1.20.

A better way to think about it is to decide how much you want to spend, or how much you are willing to spend per result. You can start testing Instagram advertising with almost any budget. Instagram’s parent company Facebook says:

“You tell Facebook how much you want to spend on advertising. Then we will try to get you as many results as possible for that amount. If you want to spend $5 a week, you can. If you want to spend $50,000 a week, you can do that too.”

You control your Instagram ads cost by setting a campaign spending limit, a daily budget, and a bid strategy.

Types of Instagram ads

Instagram offers several ad formats:

  • Stories ads
  • Photo ads
  • Video ads
  • Carousel ads
  • Collection ads
  • Explore ads
  • IGTV ads
  • Instagram Shopping ads

Each ad type works for different business goals and has different call-to-action (CTA) options available. We will get into the details below.

Stories ads

Supported objectives

  • App installs
  • Brand awareness
  • Conversions
  • Lead generation
  • Messages
  • Reach
  • Store traffic
  • Traffic
  • Video Views

Call-to-action buttons

  • Apply Now
  • Book Now
  • Contact us
  • Download
  • Get Showtimes
  • Get Quote
  • Get Offer
  • Install Now
  • Learn More
  • Listen Now
  • Order Now
  • Play Game
  • Request Time
  • See Menu
  • Send Message
  • Shop Now
  • Sign Up
  • Subscribe
  • Use App
  • Watch More

Instagram Stories ads are full-screen ads that appear between users’ Stories.

With 500 million Instagram users viewing Stories every day, you have the potential to reach a massive audience with Instagram Story ads.

Brands can take advantage of all Instagram Stories features, like adding face filters, video effects, and text to create fun and creative promotions.

This allows you to make Instagram Stories ads that look and feel like normal Stories – creating a seamless experience for your users. The call-to-action takes the form of a swipe-up feature at the bottom of the Story.

Photo ads

Supported objectives:

  • App installs
  • Brand awareness
  • Catalog sales
  • Conversions
  • Engagement
  • Lead generation
  • Messages
  • Reach
  • Store traffic
  • Traffic

Call-to-action buttons

  • Apply Now
  • Book Now
  • Book Test Drive
  • Call Now
  • Check Availability
  • Contact us
  • Donate
  • Download
  • Get Directions
  • Get Showtimes
  • Get Quote
  • Get Offer
  • Install Now
  • Learn More
  • Listen Now
  • Open LInk
  • Order Now
  • Play Game
  • Preregister
  • Request Time
  • See Menu
  • Send Message
  • Send WhatsApp Message
  • Shop Now
  • Sign Up
  • Subscribe
  • Use App
  • Watch More

Photo ads allow brands to showcase products and services through compelling images.

If you are already crafting high-quality visual content, then Instagram photo ads give you the platform to share it with even more people. You can also create new content specifically to run as a photo ad.

As with all of the Instagram ad types, think about which call to action best supports your goal. Do you want to send visitors to your website? Your Instagram profile? Or push them to a conversion? This Revolut ad uses the Install Now CTA to direct users to the Apple App Store for download.

Video ads

Supported objectives:

  • App installs
  • Brand awareness
  • Conversions
  • Engagement
  • Lead generation
  • Messages
  • Reach
  • Store traffic
  • Traffic
  • Video Views

Call-to-action buttons

  • Apply Now
  • Book Now
  • Book Test Drive
  • Call Now
  • Check Availability
  • Contact us
  • Donate
  • Download
  • Get Directions
  • Get Showtimes
  • Get Quote
  • Get Offer
  • Install Now
  • Learn More
  • Listen Now
  • Order Now
  • Play Game
  • Preregister
  • Request Time
  • See Menu
  • Send Message
  • Send WhatsApp Message
  • Shop Now
  • Sign Up
  • Subscribe
  • Use App
  • Watch More

Video ads on Instagram can be up to one minute long, so they give you a chance to give users a closer look at your brand, your business, or your products. That said, shorter videos can often be more effective, especially if you include branding in the first few seconds of the ad.

Tostitos Canada used a campaign of short video ads to increase sales of its chips by 5.5%.

Carousel ads

Supported objectives:

  • App installs
  • Brand awareness
  • Catalog Sales
  • Conversions
  • Lead generation
  • Messages
  • Reach
  • Store Traffic
  • Traffic

Call-to-action buttons

  • Apply Now
  • Book Now
  • Book Test Drive
  • Call Now
  • Check Availability
  • Contact us
  • Donate
  • Download
  • Get Directions
  • Get Showtimes
  • Get Quote
  • Get Offer
  • Install Now
  • Learn More
  • Listen Now
  • Open Link
  • Order Now
  • Play Game
  • Preregister
  • Request Time
  • See Menu
  • Send Message
  • Send WhatsApp Message
  • Shop Now
  • Sign Up
  • Subscribe
  • Use App
  • Watch More

Carousel ads let users swipe through a series of images or videos with a call-to-action button to connect them directly to your website.

You can use them to:

  • Highlight multiple products
  • Share a multi-part story
  • Dive deep into a single service in up to 10 images or videos

Collection ads

Supported objectives:

  • Catalog sales
  • Conversions
  • Store traffic
  • Traffic

Call-to-action buttons

  • Learn More
  • Purchase

Instagram Collection ads offer a compelling ecommerce feature: Users have the option to purchase products directly from the ad. When users click on the ad, they are directed to an Instagram Instant Experience Storefront.

These ads combine the power of photos, videos, and direct-response marketing all in one powerful advertisement.

Instagram Explore ads

Supported objectives:

  • App installs
  • Brand awareness
  • Conversions
  • Engagement
  • Lead generation
  • Messages
  • Reach
  • Traffic
  • Video Views

Call-to-action buttons

  • Apply Now
  • Book Now
  • Book Test Drive
  • Check Availability
  • Contact us
  • Download
  • Get Showtimes
  • Get Quote
  • Get Offer
  • Install Now
  • Learn More
  • Listen Now
  • Play Game
  • Preregister
  • Request Time
  • See Menu
  • Send Message
  • Send WhatsApp Message
  • Shop Now
  • Sign Up
  • Subscribe
  • Use App
  • Watch More

Explore is the Instagram screen where users discover new content and accounts. More than half of Instagram users access Explore every month.

Instagram Explore ads do not appear in the Explore grid or the topic channels. Instead, the ads appear after someone clicks on a photo or video from Explore.

You can use your regular Instagram photo and video ads in Explore by choosing Explore as an extra placement.

IGTV ads

Instagram announced in March 2020 that it will be offering advertising in IGTV. As this is a brand-new development, details of how IGTV ads will work are now yet clear, but video creators will receive 55% of the ad revenue. You can read more about the IGTV app here: Instagram redesigns IGTV with creators as the focus.

Instagram Shopping ads

Supported objectives:

  • Brand awareness
  • Conversions
  • Link click
  • Post engagement
  • Reach

If you are set up with Instagram Shopping, you can run shoppable posts as Instagram ads. (We will soon post an artcile about how to set up Instagram Shopping.)

Instagram Shopping ads take shoppers directly to a product description page within the Instagram app. They can then purchase through your mobile website.

How to choose the best Instagram ad type

It is crucial to be intentional about your ad format. To help, there is one big question you need to answer that will help you decide: what is your goal?

First, create S.M.A.R.T. goals for your Instagram ads campaign.

Then, take a look at the business objectives supported by each Instagram ad format. Think about how these can directly support your goals. Also consider which types of content get the best response in your organic Instagram feed, this can be a good indicator for what might work as well as for paid ads.

Once you have placed Instagram ads, be sure to review Instagram Insights through its own built-in analytics dashboard to track your success. You can then test and tweak your ad type choices to improve your Instagram advertising strategy over time.

How to advertise on Instagram

There are two ways to set up your ads on Instagram. The simplest way is to simply promote an existing post directly within the app. But the method that offers the most customisation, and which we perfer at LearnBusiness, is to create your Instagram ad using the Facebook Ads Manager, accessible through the Facebook Business Manager (you must have a Facebook page set up).

Let’s start with the simplest option.

How to advertise on Instagram right from the app

The easiest way to start advertising on Instagram is to promote an existing post on your Instagram profile. This is similar to the Boost Post option for Facebook ads.

If you have a post that is performing well and getting lots of engagement, promoting it within the app is a quick, easy method to reach even more users.

You will need to have a business or creator account on Instagram to do this. If you are using a personal profile or do not have an Instagram account yet, follow these instructions to set up your business account:

  1. Download the Instagram app for iOS, Android, or Windows.
  2. Open the app and tap Sign Up.
  3. Enter your email address and tap Next. If you want to connect your Instagram business account to your Facebook Business Page, make sure to tap Log in with Facebook.
  4. Choose your username and password and fill in your profile information.
  5. Tap Done.
  6. You now have a personal Instagram account that is ready to convert to a business account. Continue by following the steps below.
  7. Log into your existing personal Instagram account on the app.
  8. Tap the profile icon to go to your profile.
  9. Tap the three lines icon at the top right of the screen, then tap Settings.
  10. Tap Switch to Business Profile, then Continue.
  11. If you want to connect your Instagram business account to your Facebook business page, follow the prompts to do so.
  12. Add your contact information: Your Instagram for business account must include an email address, a phone number, or a physical address (or all of these).
  13. Tap Done.

Then, simply navigate to your chosen post and click Promote under the post.

Then, simply complete the options to choose who will see your ad, where you want to send them, how much you want to spend, and for how long you want your ad to run.

Finally, tap Create Promotion.

Done! You can monitor the results on the Promotions tab of your Instagram profile.

How to advertise on Instagram using Facebook Ads Manager

Since Facebook owns Instagram, the advertising tools for these two social platforms are well integrated. That means you can use the Facebook Ads Manager to create ads that run on Instagram.

You can also customise audiences and other features, and monitor how your ads are performing.

If you do not have a Facebook Page yet, set one up now: How do I create a Facebook page?

Already got a Facebook Page? If you have not already, now it is the time to connect your Facebook Page and Instagram account to Facebook Business Manager.

Once you completed this step, it is time to dive into creating your first Instagram ad.

Step 1: Choose your objective

To start, go to Ads Manager and click on the green button +Create.

There are two different types of workflows that you can choose from to help you create and manage your Instagram ad. The default is the Guided Creation, which walks you through the exact steps you should take to create a typical Instagram ad campaign. Guided Creation is very helpful for newer marketers.

Quick Creation gives you more control in crafting your Instagram ad. If you are more experienced and have created Facebook ads before, you can click the Switch to Quick Creation button on the top right corner to use this workflow.

But for now, let’s stick with the Guided Creation.

First, you need to choose your ad campaign objective. Facebook Ads Manager offers a list of objectives.

This screenshot shows the objectives you can use. Here is a quick breakdown of what each of these objectives means.

  • Brand awareness. Helps increase awareness of your business or products among users who haven’t heard of you yet.
  • Reach. Shows your ad to as many people as possible in your target audience.
  • Traffic. For clicks to your website, to your app, or to any other URL you choose.
  • App installs. Get users to download your app when they see the ad.
  • Engagement. Aims to increase the amount of comments, likes, shares, event responses, and offer claims you receive.
  • Video views. Share your video with those most likely to watch it.
  • Lead generation. Gather lead data from users who click on the ad.
  • Messages. Get users to send a message to your brand account.
  • Conversions. Drive sales and sign-up conversions on your website or app.
  • Catalog sales. Promote sales of products from your online store catalog.
  • Store traffic. Direct users to your brick-and-mortar location.

Once you have selected your objective, you will be prompted to name your campaign, choose to create an A/B test, and make use of the Campaign Budget Optimisation (CBO). The default campaign name will just be the objective you have selected (for instance, “Brand awareness”) but you may choose to give it a more specific name to help you keep track of your campaigns. For now, just click on continue.

Step 2: Identify your audience

The next step is to decide who you want to target with your ad.

Since Instagram is owned by Facebook, you have access to a very robust set of targeting options. These go well beyond typical demographic information like age, gender, and location. This allows you to craft copy and messaging that uniquely applies to your potential customer.

Step 3: Select your ad placements

In the Placements section, you can decide where your ads will appear on Facebook and Instagram.

You will have two options for this:

  • Automatic Placements. Your ads will be shown to your audience wherever they’re likely to perform best.
  • Manual Placements. You will be able to pick and choose where your ad appears. For example, if you want to limit your ads to only appearing in Instagram Stories, or only on the Instagram Feed, you may opt for Manual Placements.

Here is the window where you can edit your placement.

Once you have chosen where you want your ads to go, it is time to choose your budget.

Step 4: Choose your budget and schedule

This section determines how much you want to spend on your promotion and for how long you want your Instagram ads to run.

You can choose a daily budget, which offers a maximum daily spend, or a lifetime budget for an ad with a set lifespan. You can also choose to run ads continuously, or only at certain times of day.

Facebook Ads Manager also includes optimisation and bid strategy options, which clarify how your budget will be spent. These may be customisable, depending on your campaign goal.

As you adjust these options, the Estimated Daily Reach scale in the right-hand column will let you know how many people you can expect to reach each day with your ads.

Step 5: Create your ads

Now it is time to create the actual ad.

Start by choosing the format you want to use for your ad.

The next steps are fairly straightforward from here:

  • Choose your pictures or videos
  • Craft your ad copy
  • Pick a payment option
  • Review your ad
  • Click Confirm

The Ads Manager displays the technical format requirements as you select your images or videos.

You can also choose a call-to-action button and the destination URL that people will reach when they click on it.

Scroll down to the Tracking section if you want to track conversions through a Facebook pixel on your website, or an app event. These options will give you information about how your audience interacts with your business after clicking on your ad.

Once you have clicked Confirm, you are done. Congratulations, you have just created your first Instagram ad.

Instagram ad tips and best practices

Now you have got all the technical skills necessary to create an Instagram ad. But there is more you need to know to create profitible Instagram ads.

Here are some things to keep in mind while crafting an ad that engages users.

Know your audience

When you know your audience well, you are able to craft messages that connect with them. This is why it is crucial to know your audience before you start creating your Instagram advertising.

Think about your ads from your potential customers’ perspective:

  • What solution does your product or service offer them?
  • What do they need and want?

Keep their goals and values in mind as you create your ads. This is all about them and not you.

Use text wisely

An image is worth a thousand words. Technically, you can use up to 2,200 characters for most Instagram ads but only two rows of text will display without being cut off.

That means every character counts. Use them wisely to connect with your audience and motivate them to click your CTA button.

Engage

You need to respond to comments and likes on your ads just as you would on your organic posts.

In fact, it can be even more important to keep an eye out for engagements on ads, since you are likely to get comments and questions directly related to the product advertised.

Your response can make the difference in driving purchases. And not just the one purchase from the person who commented or asked a question but from all the other folks who see how well (or not) you address potential client concerns.

Test, measure, and optimise

As with Facebook ads, you can view the performance of your Instagram ads in the Facebook Ads Manager.

Keeping an eye on your results is key to refining your strategy and getting the most from your Instagram ads budget. Does “Learn more” convert better than “Shop now”? What about different product descriptions, hashtags, or ad copy? Or different colors and photos?

Get the most out of your Instagram advertising budget with LearnBusiness’ upcoming course in Digital Marketing and Sales. You will learn best-practises, how to use Campaign Budget Optimisation (CBO), the most effective advertising strategies for creating profitable ads to scale your business, and much more.

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