Instagram Story Ads are a recent and popular ad format that marketers are just starting to truly understand. In this post, learn some of the new best practices for how to craft and use these ads in the best way for your brand.
Stories are one of the most interesting parts of the Instagram experience–snippets of video or photos that autoplay for a few seconds and disappear after 24 hours. The Stories feature always feels fresh and incredibly exciting since users never know what might pop up next.
Instagram Story Ads also provide a banner opportunity for marketers to connect with new audiences and generate excitement. Here’s everything you need to know.
So what are Instagram Story Ads?
Instagram Story Ads are short, looping images or videos that run for 24 hours before self-destructing, kind of like a Snapchat story. When users watch their friends’ Instagram Stories, your ad will automatically show up in the mix, since Stories automatically plays one video or photo immediately after the other. And research shows that though these ads are short, they’re also mighty, proving a cost-effective solution that provides a fun, attention-grabbing alternative to more “traditional” social media sponsored content.
Photo ads for Instagram Stories last for five seconds, while video ads last fifteen seconds. But, according to numbers from top brands like Ralph Lauren, those seconds really count. When Ralph Lauren wanted to reach a broader, millennial and Gen Z audience, the fashion label created ads targeted to their ideal, younger customers. Those ads paid off: Ralph Lauren saw an 18% increase in sales among their new millennial shoppers, a 17-point lift in ad recall among those same shoppers, and a 41% increase in page views among their Gen Z targets.
However, not every ad should be an Instagram Story. There’s an art to creating the perfect five or fifteen-second Instagram Stories spot and knowing when to use the format is the key to winning attention and sales through the ads.
It’s Instagram Stories time!
How to run Instagram Story Ads
Instagram Story Ads are a completely different ad format than a newsfeed Instagram Ad, and so when you’re creating them, it’s important to understand which goals the ads achieve in order to best understand what ads should look like. Here are a few objectives to keep in mind when creating these ads:
Reach: Because Instagram Story Ads show up automatically in target audiences’ Stories, the potential for showing your ad to as many people as possible is a key utility of the ad format.
Video Views: And while users on Facebook or Instagram might scroll right past your sponsored video in favor of friends’ posts or simply because they’ve got the sound off, they’ve actually come to Stories in the Instagram app specifically to watch videos and are much more likely to pay attention.
Lead Gen, Conversions, App Installs: Because Instagram Story Ads allow users to swipe up for more information, once you’ve created a compelling ad, they’re excellent for seamlessly getting audiences to take action, whether you’re looking for audiences who will sign up for lists, shop, or download your app.
So how do you get those audiences not only watching your brand’s stories but also swiping up for more info?
Nail the dimensions. If you’re used to creating content for traditional Facebook and Instagram Ads, getting used to the new dimensions for Instagram Stories might be an adjustment. Dimensions for photos should include a 9 X 16 image ratio and be 1080 x 1920 pixels. For video, the Instagram Stories Ad time should run no more than 15 seconds with a 4:5 vertical aspect ratio, minimum width of 600 pixels, and maximum file size of 4GB.
Know your objectives. Instagram actually gives businesses a list of objectives to choose from when building their ads. There are 11 ad objectives to choose from, including brand awareness, traffic, engagement, and conversions, among others. But those options are not a lot of help if you haven’t already clearly mapped your objectives beforehand.
Use Stories for the right product at the right time. These ads are best utilized when you’ve got something very specific to hype. Think about them as “Breaking News” and use Stories for new product launches, announcing sales or special events, or inviting select users to take advantage of special offers. Instagram stories ads cost sometimes a bit more than feed ads, so use this format wisely.
Create ads with the format in mind. You’re probably used to creating perfectly curated images for a cohesive Instagram feed. With Stories, you have a lot more freedom. Be sure to center your image but also use text and color to make your ad pop, limit words to just the essentials–short, action-driven statements.
Instagram Stories Ads are quite unlike any other social media ads consumers are interacting with, which makes them incredibly fun but also a bit challenging. Play around, test, and keep the user experience in mind to maximize the impact of this small but powerful opportunity to connect.