By now, we’ve all heard of Instagram Stories – short, crisp little video clips and images that are visible only for 24 hours.
In March 2019, Instagram announced the release of Instagram Story Ads – an exciting prospect for digital and social media marketers.
Story Ads opened up a plethora of marketing opportunities to help businesses reach and engage new audiences.
These ads also proved to be a much more captivating alternative to Newsfeed ads. They captured the attention of users and created the opportunity for a more immersive experience.
And it’s working!
500 million accounts on Instagram post to Stories every day, keeping their audiences updated on their lives. Now advertisers have access to this unique format and huge potential audience!
You can also utilize the same vertical, full-screen and engaging Instagram Stories ads to reach out to and engage your audience!
Want to know more? Let’s take a look!
What are Instagram Story Ads?
You probably already know about those Instagram Stories that appear above the newsfeed on Instagram.
Instagram Story Ads appear among the Stories as a user is tapping through them – it’s like an inconspicuous ‘sponsored’ divider between different user Stories!
Besides a captive audience, there’s another benefit:
Instagram Stories are full-screen content, so as a marketer, you have all that real estate of a viewer’s device. The ads will appear in the same format as a regular Instagram Story, and you can be as creative as you want!
Creating Instagram Story Ads
Want to create your own promotional content on IG Stories? You can follow these steps to create your Instagram Story Ad:
- Run Facebook Ads Manager and select the ‘Create’ option
- Choose an objective (described later in the article) that suits your marketing goal
- Fill out the details for your Instagram campaigns
- Choose Automatic Placement or tick the Stories option under Instagram if you’re choosing Edit Placements
- Set the schedule and budget for your Instagram story ad
- Select the ad format from the following before viewing the specifications for the Instagram Story Ad:
- Single Image
- Single Video
- Add design elements to your ad. You can also use Story templates in some cases to create vertical story animations in your ad.
- Click ‘confirm’ to create your ad.
The “Swipe-Up” Call To Action
This feature is a potential goldmine for Instagram marketers, as it lets them link a story directly to the product landing page.
Once you add “swipe-up” links to your Instagram Story Ads, users can end up on your landing page with the flick of a finger.
Whether you send them to a blog, a product, or a sign-up form for a newsletter or service is up to you! Cool, right?
Next, let’s figure out how to set them up.
Getting Started With Instagram Story Ads
You’ll need to understand a few basic guidelines before you start making Instagram Story Ads that are optimized for conversions.
Know Your Objectives
What do you aim to do through your Ad campaign?
Choose from the following marketing objectives, so you know what you want to achieve through the Instagram Story Ads:
- Increasing Reach: Shows your advertisement to the maximum number of people
- Conversions: Convert prospects or viewers to customers or subscribers
- Brand Awareness: Find and educate Instagram users from your target market about your product or service
- Generate Leads: Get valuable information from Instagram such as emails and phone numbers
- App Installations: Get more Instagram users to install the apps you develop
- Traffic: Send Instagram users to your website
- Increase Video Views: Increase views on your Instagram videos. You can also cross-promote videos across other social media platforms like YouTube.
Develop Your Ad Creative
Next, create ad content that will help you achieve your desired objective. You can use a mix of different creative elements, such as videos, images, graphics, GIFs, and more!
You can also use text for ad captions and copy, but you have to be very precise; otherwise, the ad will appear cluttered.
Use The Recommended Dimensions
You can’t use the same sizes for your ads across platforms.
Luckily, Instagram has recommended ad sizes to give you prime visibility for both Story and Newsfeed Ads!
Here are the Image and Video dimensions that you need to use for your Instagram Story Ads.
- 1080 x 1920 pixels is the recommended resolution
- Use the PNG or JPG format only
- Maintain a resolution of at least 600 x 1067 pixels
- Maintain an aspect ratio of 9:16
- The image file shouldn’t be larger than 30MB
- 1080p is the recommended resolution
- At least 720p resolution
- MOV or MP4 format only
- Maintain an aspect ratio of 9:16
- 4GB is the maximum permissible size
Set Your Target Audience
To successfully execute an Instagram Story Ad, you need to lock in with your target audience.
Target Audience Selection Criteria
You can set your target audience based on the following:
Narrowing It Down
You can also include audiences that are already engaging with you, such as your Instagram followers and “followers of followers.”
And keep in mind, Facebook is linked to Instagram. So you can also choose to include or exclude users who like your page on Facebook – this depends on whether you want to show them the same offerings and ads.
(Remember: your Instagram audience may be different from your Facebook audience, keep them separate if that’s the case)
Instagram Stories are short and sweet, and hopefully, your ad will be the same. Just reach out to as many relevant Instagram users as possible, so they don’t miss out!
Develop A Persuasive CTA
It’s recommended to have a clear and compelling call to action for your Instagram Story Ads. Motivate your audience by using action words like learn, see, buy, shop, discover, get.
Here’s an Idea:
Test out different CTAs to see what works best with your audience – there’s nothing a bit of trial & error can’t fix.
Best Practices For Instagram Story Ads
Now that you’re caught up with the basics let’s figure out how you can optimize your Instagram Story Ads for conversion.
Make The First Few Seconds Count
The first few seconds decide whether a user is going to swipe up on your Instagram Story Ad or swipe right (remember, this isn’t tinder).
A study done by RivalIQ found out that by the second frame of their stories, brands have lost 20% of their target audience.
This is why it is necessary to captivate your audiences from the start. Users are going to skip your Instagram Story Ads if they lose interest.
You can try to experiment with the following graphic design ideas to hook users in:
- Appealing Imagery
- Vibrant Colors (If they sync with your brand)
Here’s an example.
NUXE France decided to create a Short Stop-Motion video showcasing their products. It had a soft background to match the packaging of their products, which caught the eye of users who saw the story.
This increased their return on ad spend by a whopping 620%.
Ensure Clear And Concise Messaging
The videos and pictures you’ll use will take up most space in your Instagram Story Ad. So there’s not much space left for text elements to be incorporated. Besides, your audience won’t have much time to read a lot of text.
Remember, photo ads are displayed for 7 seconds and videos for 15 seconds at a time.
That’s why it is essential to create an appealing caption that reflects your brand values and conveys your message effectively.
Relevant hashtags can also be used if you want to. If you have a post on your profile that follows a similar format to your Instagram Story Ad, you can use one or two of the relevant hashtags from it.
This way, if someone misses the post on the Instagram news feed, they can be redirected to it via your ad.
Need to tell a longer story?
Carousel ads and short videos can help keep users engaged. Time for another example!
Overstock launched an ad featuring the phrase “think again” that resonated with their brand perception.
They used product photos with short, 2-word messages that highlighted their value proposition. The results speak for themselves.
Keep Your Brand Visible
The whole purpose of Instagram Story Ads is to introduce more people to your brand and products. So if people see your ad but don’t see the brand anywhere, it’s no use.
Make sure that your brand name is clearly visible in the ad.
The other elements shouldn’t obstruct the brand logo at the top left of the Instagram Story Ad or distract users from your branding displayed elsewhere in the ad.
Here are a few things you can do to maintain visibility in your ads:
- Focus on the product, especially if it has the name and logo on it
- Consider a minimalistic approach to marketing, so the brand name stands out
- Overlay the Brand logo without compromising the other elements
Lucozade Sport made an ad that demonstrated the power of their brand conclusively.
The bottle is shown smack dab in the middle of the ad in a blue background and mentions “The Lionesses” – another brand they are collaborating with.
Lucozade Sport clearly shows how two brands can be visible at the same time in one ad – resulting in better recall and campaign awareness for both.
Position Your Text Purposefully
Short messages and phrases are just one piece of the puzzle, but you need to be just as efficient with text placement in your Instagram Story Ads. Be careful where you place your text, so it doesn’t obstruct other elements of ad design.
What about all that empty space in your Instagram Story Ad?
That’s where you use white space to your advantage. Use highly readable fonts for the text and place them without obstructing other design elements.
Position the text strategically, too. You can add it close to the Swipe-Up button to draw users’ eyes away from that pesky “Sponsored” tag at the top.
Batch Organics uses this idea beautifully – they show their products with a three-word phrase that slides in, and they have a discount offer near the “shop now” button located at the bottom. Can you see the “Sponsored” button in the screenshot?
Experiment With Video
Did you know videos can hold our attention for 5X more than a still image?
With shorter than ever attention spans, you’ll face challenges as a brand trying to stay visible. Video ads provide the perfect fix as they keep viewers immersed, provided that your content adds value, and your audience finds it interesting.
If you’re telling a story through a video, video carousels can also be an effective way to get your point across.
Feature Influencers in Your Instagram Story Ads
If you launch an influencer campaign for your brand as part of your advertising campaign, you just gained access to thousands of people from your target market. Provided you identified the right influencers for the job successfully, you can feature the content they created for you in your Instagram Story Ads.
Conclusion: Using Instagram Story Ads for Marketing
Hopefully, you should now be able to create Instagram Story Ads that are geared up for conversions.
Your journey doesn’t end here, however. This is just the beginning. Keep experimenting with different ad formats, targeting options, visuals, and you will execute a successful Instagram Story Ad in no time!
Have a favorite Instagram Story Ad you’ve seen that resonated with you? Share it with me below!