How to Use Instagram's New Ad Platform [Guest Post]

Instagram's paid ad system was initially for premium businesses, but now it is available to the wider public. The platform offers three ad formats, allows for CTAs, and provides advanced analytics.

By Dana Kilroy ・3 min read
Social Media

Instagram first announced their paid ad system back in 2013 and it was considered to be for the premium businesses only. Recently, the platform became available for the wider public to use.Instagram explains the limitations of 2013 as having been a good opportunity to test the ads before offering them to a wider audience and give the new ads a try without risking failure by most businesses that would potentially consider the ads. With a community of more than 400 million, this wasn’t a bad idea at all. If the ads failed, a lot of businesses would lose investments, Instagram did a good job at preventing that. A study conducted by Instagram with the help of Nielsen Brand Effect, a company that helps marketers and advertisers measure their results, concluded that Instagram ads received 2.8 times better results than Nielsen’s norm of advertising (read the study here.) Without further ado, here is what you need to know about the new platform.

3 types of ad formats

Instagram offers 3 types of ad formats:

• Images – images allow you to tell a story to your audience and also include a call to action.

• Video – Video ads can last up to 30 seconds, and since 1 minute video is equivalent to 1.8 million words according to a Forester research, that’s plenty of time to tell your audience whatever you want them to know and feel.

• Carousel – carousel ads allow advertisers to include up to 4 images, which change in a rotation in your given order that users can swipe through themselves. With Instagram being a primarily visual platform, the ad formats offer a pretty comfortable variety for different campaigns and users.

Getting the CTA on the field

Instagram is a great platform for visual brands, but it lacks a key aspect of online marketing: conversions. You can’t place a CTA or a link directly on your IG post, which creates some difficulties in terms of conversions and website traffic. What you can do is place a link in your bio that sends traffic to a lead-collecting campaign. And you can also improve your social media marketing on Instagram by using ads. IG ads allow to place CTAs directly on all three ads offered, which helps drive traffic directly to your website or offer. There will be no more need to put links in the bio and encourage people to check your bio, which results in more direct engagement with users.

Advertisers have four different options to choose from: Learn more, Sign up, Shop now and Install now. Each CTA will open a page in the user’s browser and take him or her to your website page or a mobile app in one of the app stores. Another interesting thing for you to know is that you can make IG ads be less aggressive compared to Facebook, meaning that they won’t jump in the face of users instantly. For example, you can include a CTA on the last image of your carousel ad and use the first three to engage users enough to make them click the CTA on the last image. This extends the consumer’s journey just a bit, but it also allows people to have some room to breathe before being offered sales and promotion.

Analytics back-up

Since Facebook acquired IG in 2012, the new IG ads have a lot to offer in terms of analytics. Facebook has the most advanced and precise targeting algorithms available today and IG ads use a model similar to Facebook’s.Users can be targeted not only based on their sex, location and age, but also preferences, likes, follows, interests, etc. You have the option to deliver your perfectly crafted advertisement just under the nose of the audience that fits your business best.Another good thing is that the quality bar set for ads is quite high. This means that IG prioritizes ads with a high engagement rate to be shown to users, which minimizes the negative responses from people and also doesn’t turn their beloved social media network into a spam machine. The measurement, engagement rates and analytics of IG ads are there as well, just like with Facebook. Advertisers have a chance to understand what’s working for them and what’s not, how should they change their tactics, what budget is needed for their campaigns, etc. Facebook has become very mainstream in the last few years, while Instagram is seen as this young, underutilized platform that can be a great source of income when used correctly. Facebook has around 5 times more users, yes, but analytics show that IG has 58 times more engagement per user compared to Facebook. IG ads are a relatively new addition to the market, but as a smart advertiser, you should consider them seriously. About the author: Tuan Nguyen is a seasoned marketing and advertising expert and the founder of an advertising and banner design agency, 20 Dollar Banners. He has helped many businesses build relationships with their audience and grow with the help of online advertising.

About the author

By Dana Kilroy ・3 min read

Dana Sullivan Kilroy is a communications professional with more than 20 years of experience delivering compelling content. Her work has appeared in national, award-winning publications and sites, including: The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and Fast Company, Inc.

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