Instagram attracts an audience of over 400 million users and marketers
have been eagerly awaiting the day that the social photo sharing app would
open their doors to advertisers.
Now in 2019, Instagram is welcoming in businesses that wish to advertise on
the platform so they can be part of the network that has people interacting
an average of 2.5 billion times per day.
Even though the photo sharing app is one of the most popular and fastest
growing social apps in the world, it doesn’t mean that it is free from
In fact, competition on Instagram is fierce and if you don’t have the right
tools and knowledge to integrate your ads into the platform seamlessly and
with confidence, you may be doing your business more harm than good.
In this guide we are not only going to take you through the benefits of
Instagram ads, but we are also going to share with you 6 exclusive tips to
help you absolutely crush the market.
With over 70 million photos being shared every day and counting, your ads
need to stand out from the crowd and make a strong impact so you can be
sure your investment is well spent and that your fans are going to love your
products and services as much as you do.
Let’s get started…
What Is Instagram and Why Should I Care?
Instagram is a photo sharing app that allows users to take photos, add a
funky filter and then share it on their feeds with their friends.
Their friends can then comment, like or “regram” (share) the photo.
Hashtags are also popular on in Instagram and can be used to search for
images and find relevant or interesting people to follow.
Since its launch, the app quickly took off acquiring 15 million users in its first
year. Then in 2012, it was acquired by the social media giant, Facebook for
over one billion dollars.
Now it is estimated that an average of 400 million users from around the
world use the app every month and this number is steadily increasing.
So as a marketer, why should you care about Instagram?
Besides the fact that it has a huge market to tap into, Instagram has been
labelled the fastest growing social media site in the world.
On average, the app acquires 2 million new users every month meaning
that it is very, very likely that your target demographic are on there and are
waiting to hear about your products and services.
Another benefit of Instagram is that it attracts a wide age range.
Back in 2004, when the app was first launched it was mainly used by 16-24
year olds, but now in 2019 nearly 34 percent of those using the app are aged
On top of that, because Instagram only allows the sharing of images it makes
it a highly visual and creative environment, which is perfect for sharing your
brand’s story and mission.
As the quantity of content online also increases, audiences are quickly
becoming more and more responsive to visual content such as images and
Instagram also takes care of the three main fears that seem to plague social
• Will be ad be seen?
• Will my ad be blocked?
• Will users engage with my ad?
Will my Ad be Seen?
Just because you create a beautiful ad to post on a social media, doesn’t
necessarily mean it is going to be seen by everyone.
For example on Facebook, ads are only shown to certain people and the rate
of visibility will either increase or decrease depending on the level of
You also don’t get control over where your ad is shown, for example on
Facebook your ad may appear below the fold, limiting its visibility.
This is not only an issue in regards to your ad being seen but it also means
that you may be paying for impressions that you are not really receiving or
that have limited visibility.
Even though this may seem unfair, the Media Rating Council clearly states
that an “ad is considered viewable when 50 percent of the ads pixels are in view
for a minimum of one second.”
This means that even if only 50 percent of your ad is in a viewable area and is
skimmed over even if just for a second, it will still count as an impression that
you will have to pay for.
On Instagram however, the issue of invisibility is removed as users are used
to and will happily scroll through their photo feed in order to access their
images, meaning that your ad will be given 100 percent visibility as they
Because Instagram ads are all images or videos, they are also seamlessly
integrated into the platform, meaning that they look natural and fit in with
the native surroundings.
In fact, many times users have a hard time identifying that a sponsored
image is actually an ad, leading to improved engagement rates.
This means that advertising on Instagram may be a better investment than
other social media platforms and may give your ad more visibility.
Will My Ad be Blocked?
Ad blocking has been increased by up to 48 percent in the last few years,
posing a huge issue for marketers.
Ad blocking software has become increasingly popular due to certain
demands from consumers and is estimated to cost publishers nearly $22
billion per year.
Ad blocking means that certain ads won’t show for certain individuals, or will
be blocked on certain devices due to settings.
Even big companies like Apple have integrated ad blocking options into their
platforms, meaning that they will not be disappearing any time soon.
The only way a savvy marketer can really learn to work with ad blocking is to
factor the loss into the budget or to use a platform like Instagram that
doesn’t allow ad blocking.
Instagram is one of the only social media platforms that won’t block your ad,
which means that your audience are able to view your ad without any
This not only makes advertising on the platform more cost effective and
more likely to yield you a positive return on investment (ROI), but it also
means that more people are likely to see and engage with your ads.
Will Users Engage with my Ad?
Most people scrolling through pages online are ‘banner blind’. This means
that they have become immune to ad placements and often just ignore their
presence on the screen.
The Nielsen Norman Group also found that 60 percent of those surveyed
couldn’t recall the last ad that they saw online. Could you?
Most websites, including social media sites have obvious placements for ads
such as at the top of the screen and in the sidebar, and over the years
consumers have learnt to tune these out.
This means that your precious and expensive ad space may be going to
waste and may not be giving your ads with the best possible engagement
rate. Instagram helps to erase this problem however, by giving your ads the
visibility they deserve through their special advertising features.
Instagram allows advertisers to target their demographic by selecting their
location, interests, behaviours and more in order to ensure that the images
are seen by the right people.
Nielsen Norman Group also found that ads on Instagram performed 2.9
times better than the average online ad.
This is believed to be due to the fact that Instagram ads integrate into the
platform rather than sticking out like a banner ad would.
Here is the summary of how Instagram overcomes the three main fears
faced by marketers when it comes to advertising on social media:
• Instagram ads cannot be blocked and receive more visibility.
• Instagram ads will never be below the fold due to the scrolling nature
of the platform.
• Instagram ads look native on the platform and don’t alert to the fact
that they are ads.
• Instagram has sophisticated and extremely detailed targeting options,
which allows your images to be seen by the right demographic.
• Instagram ads perform 2.9 times better than other forms of online
But the benefits of advertising on Instagram don’t just end there.
Wait, there is more?
Instagram is also super cost effective with CPC’s as low as $0.10 and because
the ad program is so new, supply is high and ad costs are currently
unrivalled. Instagram also doesn’t limit the amount of text you can use, unlike other
social networks like Twitter or even Facebook. But they do limit the amount of text that can be shown in your image to just 20 percent. It can be hard to keep track of the amazing benefits of advertising on Instagram, but here are the top 5 that we think stand out the most-
1. Instagram is one of the only social media platforms that doesn’t allow
ad blocking and gives your ad full visibility.
2. First mover advantage: because advertising on Instagram is relatively
new, adoption is low and supply is high, resulting in low advertising
3. Your ads have the ability to reach over 400 million highly engaged
users every month.
4. Instagram users are more engaged and more likely to take action
compared to other social networks like Facebook or Twitter.
5. Instagram has highly sophisticated and detailed targeting options
helping your ads to be seen by the right people.
Advertising on Instagram definitely has numerous benefits for marketers and
brands alike, but being successful with advertising on the platform can be a
tricky game to master. Users are drawn to Instagram because of the beautiful photos that are
shared and if your ad doesn’t tell a story or provide some creative aesthetic,
chances are it is not going to perform as well. Luckily however, we have come up with 6 hacks to help you crush it when it comes to creating your Instagram ads.
Hack #1: Blow Their Minds With Beautiful and Bold Imagery
A picture is worth a thousand words so stock-photos are just not going to cut
it here (unless they are exceptionally beautiful).
Your Instagram ad image needs to be a high quality, original and beautiful
image that helps your brand to stand out and paints a visual story.
One of the most important things to remember when it comes to running an
ad on Instagram is that users want to see ads that are going to match the feel
and aesthetic of their feed. This means that as a marketer and a brand, you need to dig a little deeper into the hearts of your demographic in order to understand what type of
imagery, colours and objects are going to evoke an emotional response. Instagram also comes with their own filters that have become popular with users. In fact, one study found that the three most successful filters for advertising included:
• X Pro II
These filters had the highest revenue per impression when used to sell products on an
e-commerce store. Photos with filters are also 21 percent more likely to be viewed and 45
percent more likely to be commented on, so definitely use the existing filters to your advantage. Fun, quirky, lifestyle photos also tend to perform the best on Instagram so
get creative with your business to see what imagery you can create for your
Some creative ideas that you may want to use in your Instagram ad images
• Giving your customers a behind the scenes look at how your product is
made or how your company goes about achieving their services.
• Snap a photo of a new product or new interface to get feedback from
• Show creative ways to utilise your products and services.
• Run competitions and contests.
• Offer a discount to customers who snap a selfie at your storefront or
post a photo using your products or services.
When it comes to selecting the perfect ad image to use, think about your objective along with the tone and feel of your brand. This will help you effectively communicate your message to your audience. “Compelling ads on Instagram have a strong concept tied to a clear objective. Whether you are driving brand awareness, website clicks or
app installs, create concepts that align to your campaign goal.”- Instagram
Hack #2: Use Direct Response Sales Copy
Creating beautiful images that stand out and get your brand noticed is one
thing, but actually getting users to click through and complete your desired
action is another thing altogether.
Most marketers use Instagram to get:
• Clicks to a Website
• Mobile App Installs
• Video Views
• Mass Awareness
• More Followers
In order to achieve this your caption must
include direct response sales copy that
inspires users to click on your call to action right then and there.
When it comes to writing effective sales copy on Instagram, the trick is to blend
inspirational, emotional driven content with product focused content.
The goal of running an ad on Instagram is to eventually convert your clicks into leads and
then sales, and this can be achieved through an inspiring image and direct sales copy.
Hack #3: Work on Creating a Story to Drive Engagement
Even though you are running an ad, no one wants to see pushy sales photos,
which is why it is important to shy away from constantly sharing images of
your brand and products without a story to back them up. Telling a story and promoting user-generated content is the best way to boost engagement and will help your Instagram account to build a solid reputation.
In the ad example below, you can see that a plain product image of the watch is not going to perform as well as the ‘lifestyle’ shot of the man wearing the watch.
This second image paints a story, which helps to drive engagement, whereas
the first image simply has a boring shot of the product.
The idea is that you want to make your brand, products and services part of
the image but not necessarily the focus. Photo ads like this perform the best on Instagram and lead to higher engagement rates.
It may be also worth sticking to the same colour palette with your images in
order for your brand to establish their overall look and feel and to be more
recognisable by your audience. “Establish connective elements across your images and videos - like an identifiable colour palette, composition or photographic style- to make your business recognisable.” - Instagram
Hack #4: Manipulate Targeting Features and Create Lookalike Audiences
Instagram is owned by Facebook which means that years and years of
research has gone into the targeting features and algorithms, making them
some of the best in the industry.
When you learn how to use them to your advantage your ad can be seen on
the feeds of those who will really benefit from and be interested in your
While your targeting options will depend on your brand and audience, a
good way to get started is to narrow down -
• The location of your audience
• The interests of your audience
• The actions your audience are likely to take
• The behaviours of your audience
• The needs and wants of your audience
Once you have been able to determine these factors about your audience,
you can then experiment with Instagram’s targeting options.
Instagram also allows you to market your ads to a lookalike audience, which
you can create from uploading your own database of customers or from
buying a list from a reputable broker.
To do this, simply upload your customer database or purchased target
customer list to Instagram and then create a lookalike audience of people
who match the same criteria.
This allows you to directly reach the audience that matters to your brand
most and limits the amount of trial and error.
“Ads do best when they are well shot, interesting to look at and
artistic. What you create should draw people in and keep them
wanting more.”- Instagram
Hack #5: Use the Best Ad Formats to Maximise on Your Objective
Instagram currently offers three different ad format options:
1. Photo Ads: allow businesses to tell their story using a beautiful image
2. Video Ads: 30 seconds long in either landscape or portrait
3. Carousel Ads (up to 4 images): adds an additional layer of depth to
photo ads by allowing users to see more than one image in a series
All of these three ad formats come with their own benefits and price points.
Photo ads are great for promoting products, competitions and showcasing
new products, whereas the Video option is great for showing your product or
services in action.
The Carousel option is effective for telling a story or for showing different
versions of the same product or a product line.
Whichever format you choose, they all allow users to access a call to action
button, which allows to either: shop, install, sign up or learn more.
When users click on these call to actions they are then directed to a landing
page within the Instagram app browser, allowing the user to feel that they
haven’t been disrupted or moved out of the platform.
From a marketing perspective, this also means that it is very easy to keep
track of the engagement process and how well your ad is converting.
Hack #6: Use Hashtags to Increase Click Through Rates
Hashtags are a great way for users to find your images and engage with your ads.
Certain popular or trending hashtags are also a great way to increase visibility.
One study found that the most lucrative tags to include on your Instagram photo ad
Images that used these tags resulted in higher revenue per impression when
featured in an e-commerce environment according to the study.
Learning how to seamlessly integrate hashtags into your ads can help to
increase your engagement rates and drive more users to completing your
desired action. The ice-cream brand, Ben and Jerry is another brand that is crushing it with
their Instagram ads. Their Instagram campaigns have helped them to gain over 10 million
followers and has resulted in a 33 point increase in ad recall.
They frequently use hashtags in their image descriptions, which inspires their
audience to promote and share the hashtag using their own user generated
images. This not only helps your ad to reach more people but it also helps to
establish your brand and gets fans interested in your products and services.
Using these six hacks can definitely help you to create Instagram ads that are
not only effective but also offer a positive return on your investment.
Other top tips for getting started when it comes to crushing it with your Instagram ads include:
1. Having a solid account name that reflects your brand and business
(company name usually works best).
2. An awesome profile photo that is either your company logo or is simple
and effective. Keep in mind that your logo will be cropped into a circle
and will appear as 150x150 pixels.
3. Sharing images that convey not only the quality of your products and
services but also the feeling that the experience will give you when you
4. Experimenting with different caption lengths and call to actions. Some
audiences respond to long image captions and others short. Learn
what works for your demographic by experimenting with different
sales copy and hashtags.
5. Playing an active role in your community by liking, commenting and
regramming (sharing) others posts.
6. Editing your ad images using filters and other creative tools like
Hyperlapse, Layout and Boomerang (available on the Instagram app).
7. Avoiding poor quality images and sales copy that is irrelevant to your
call to action.
8. Making sure your images give your brand an identity and share your
brand’s point of view without being pushy or salesy.
9. Trying to keep a strong consistency across campaigns in order to
establish your brand’s overall look and feel.
10. Keeping your ad images authentic and ‘immediate’ in order to give
them a fresh and original feel.
11. Maintaining a consistent posting frequency in order to better track
growth and engagement.
12. Cross promoting your Instagram ads with other social platforms and
13. Following people in your industry to see what they are posting and
how your brand may compare or do things differently.
14. Marketing your ads to a variety of different target audiences in order
to reach the right audience that is relevant to your brand.
15. Aiming to get your audience actively participating in your brand by
asking them to share user generated content, hashtags or participate
“Businesses do best on Instagram when they share well-crafted
content that’s on brand and driven by a clear objective”- Instagram
Wrapping It All Up
Instagram delivers 58 times more engagement per follower than Facebook
and 120 times more than Twitter making it the most superior social network
to advertise on.
Many marketers and brands are yet to tap in to the amazing potential of the
social sharing app but with this report as your guide, your brand will be well
on the way to creating ads that are both responsive and rewarding.
So, what are you waiting for?
Get Your Free 30-Minute Strategy Call
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