Very quickly, Instagram advertising has become a high priority for marketers. As Instagram has continued to mature as a platform, a variety of new ad formats have been introduced – Story, Carousel, Slideshow, Video, and Single Image – and with strong effectiveness among audiences.

Instagram has become a compelling platform for social advertisers because it is connected to the larger Facebook ecosystem, which provides rich data and audience targeting capabilities. There is also Facebook and Instagram’s undeniable scale. The more discoverability of Instagram profiles and scale from existing followers has encouraged a significant number of publishers, influencers, and brands to prioritize Instagram. As a result, this has created a content-rich environment that complements a variety of content-driven advertising.

In this post, we’ll highlight best practices for Instagram ad creative to engage your audiences and help you achieve a positive return on advertising spend (ROAS) all year long:


Story Ads

Instagram Stories hold a strong advantage in its ability to scale quickly, given its immediate plugin to the existing and proven Facebook to Instagram ad infrastructure. Thus, making it a highly popular format among advertisers. These full screen, high-resolution single image or video ads appear between Instagram user stories for up to 15 seconds, or until the user dismisses the ad. The shorter video format has become increasingly effective among consumers who want concise ads with an immediate call to action.

How can you stand out? For Instagram story ads, you’ll want to take advantage of the following elements:

  • Visually compelling ad with bold colors, clean fonts, and a prominent logo
  • Ad copy using four to six words
  • A focus on your product offering
  • Music or audio features
  • Swipe up feature directing users to your target web page

Be sure to pay attention to the ad specs when creating Story ads or any other creative for Instagram campaigns.

See this example from The Gap, which includes all these elements.


Carousel Ads

Carousel ads leverage the popularity of the swiping action on phones, which have made it a likable ad format offering for users. Currently, Facebook is testing a new carousel ad format that can include three photos or videos in the same post instead of just one. Tripling the images in an ad gives marketers greater creative freedom. Also, the ability to show a sequence of three static images or 15-second videos that maintain a narrative or lead to a call to action.

Here are some elements to consider when creating carousel ads:

  • Utilize high-quality photography or cinematography
  • Add as many images as possible
  • Include clear CTAs
  • Tell a cohesive story
  • Demonstrate your brand identity


Slideshow Ads

Slideshow ads are looping video ads with up to 10 images and music. It’s similar to a carousel ad, but the content scrolls on its own along to the music. You can upload an existing slideshow or create a new slideshow using the Facebook Ads Manager. Simply upload your images, arrange them to your liking, adjust the settings, and select your music. Just like a video ad, you can also choose a thumbnail and upload video captions.

Given the volume of ad creative that you’ll need to create and test to keep your campaign engaging and achieving ROAS with audiences, you can conveniently leverage winning ads and posts from Facebook. Posting them into Instagram slideshow ads can help you get the most out of your creative.

Slideshows work really well for products and services with high-quality photography or cinematography, including, but not limited to:

  • Beauty products
  • Travel and tourism
  • Entertainment

Here’s an example from the Montana state tourism board, where a slideshow of visually stunning photos and videos are used to showcase the reasons that visitors should come to the state.

instagram ad


Single Image Ads

Single image ads are what they say they are — ads with a single image. If you choose this format, you can create up to six ads with one image each. Single image ads are much easier to create than carousel ads. The first thing to do is to select the images for your ad. Next, you’ll want to be continually testing hundreds of images monthly to find winners. Then select the text field with your caption for the ad. The caption may include up to 300 characters and Facebook recommends using 125 characters. Finally, if you want to drive traffic to your site, select “Add a website URL” to fill in your website URL and select a call-to-action button.

In addition, to add more eye-catching action to single image ads, you can add clickable calls-to-action such as, to your download page, your website, an online shop, and more.

Alternatively, you can add animations. For instance, in this Volkswagen ad. What you can’t see in this still screenshot is the animation of the car entering and then exiting the screen. Keeping the ads simple, using less text, and adding movement will be more effective in attracting attention.

instagram ad


How to Create A Winning Instagram Ad Strategy

Instagram’s pure scale, evident in its reach, targeting and retargeting capabilities, has made it an attractive platform for social advertisers. As a result, moving millions in marketing dollars to run ads on it. At the same time, maintaining ROAS is important for performance advertisers, and it’s achievable with frequent creative testing. Throughout your campaign, constant creative testing is necessary to uncover winning ads, because high-performing creative can rapidly improve and increase ROAS.

Your best-performing Instagram ad creative may have a lifespan of fewer than 30 days. So you’ll need to continue your ad creative testing. Thus, producing wins that offset performance degradation that happens naturally as creative fatigues. Creative testing is absolutely required to maintain ROAS at scale. And it never stops — but the results will be worth the continual campaign and creative management.

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