Profiting With Instagram Stories Ads: What You Need To Know

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Juggernaut. Facebook, together with Instagram, which it acquired in 2012, dwarfs the nearest competitor in the social media space, YouTube.

When it comes to social media marketing, Facebook and Instagram are the two most important players on the market these days.

There are more than 2.7 billion monthly active users on Facebook and 700 million Instagram users. Having four times the audience of Instagram, however, does not make Facebook completely superior. In certain ways, especially in marketing and advertising, Instagram can often deliver better results. Let’s see why:

At its core, Instagram is a mobile app focused on visual information. And nearly 80% of social media time spent in today’s context is spent on mobile devices.

Time spent on social media

Notice how the social media market transformed from 2013 to 2015. This data continues to be relevant today. The growth of mobile users which became significant a few years ago continues today by the month.

See below how Smartphone use (in billions) had been growing over the last several years and what we can expect through 2020.

Number of smartphone users

Before diving in to the main topic of today’s article, let’s take a look at one of the most successful stories of Instagram marketing for a product based campaign.



Jake Kassan and Kramer LaPlante met in college as roommates and bonded quickly due to their entrepreneurial dreams. Jake had a little experience in ecommerce while Kramer had some experience in crowdfunding. They combined their skills and started a business in the watch industry.

MVMT, as their business was called, had success on crowdfunding websites and soon they gathered the funds they needed for their startup. Soon, they found a manufacturer to produce their watches on Alibaba and started a Shopify based ecommerce website.

Their first year of business topped $1 million in sales. The following years brought them more success and placed them on the Forbes 30 under 30 list. In 2015, their sales jumped to $30 million and promptly doubled in 2016. The two founders expect revenue of no less than $90 million in 2017.

And Instagram was key to their marketing success.

They connected with young adults, and especially millennials, through Sam Kolder, a videographer who traveled the world wearing MVMT watches. Through inspirational posts and a visually captivating lifestyle experience Kolder captures his audience’s attention and helped MVMT to obtain 900k followers, many of which became customers. And their success on Instagram did not stop there. They launched an advertising campaign as well, which proved to deliver a 2x engagement rate over any other platform, as well as a 75% stronger brand awareness and recall.

Also, “Instagram was not only able to integrate seamlessly into our day-to-day ad management by combining placements, but also improved cost per action by 20%”, Steven Dinelli, Ad Manager at MVMT Watches, said.

Let’s go over how you can advertise on Instagram.

There are two options: Instagram Ads and Instagram Stories Ads.

Today I am going to talk about Stories Ads and guide you through the entire process of advertising with it.

What are Instagram Stories and Why They Work So Well

Instagram Stories was announced in the summer of 2016 and became a hit over the course of 2017. The feature is similar to Snapchat, another popular app available in this space, focused on ephemeral visual content. This means that users are able to create stories based on a series of images and videos and share them with friends and followers &emdash; But immediately after 24 hours the stories are deleted, wiped forever.

By June 2017, Instagram Stories had over 250 million daily active users, more than half of the total number of its entire userbase. So we’ve been paying close attention to Instagram Stories and how to best use it in our marketing campaigns.

15 million businesses are already registered with Instagram with business profiles out of which one million per month use the advertising features.

Many marketers, however, question this medium, asking “Why post ephemeral content? Why invest in ads that will disappear in 24 hours, never to be seen again?”

Well, as surprising as this may sound, ephemeral content is often as effective as traditional posts. And in some cases even better.

The answer to the question is “authenticity.” A study conducted at Cornell University where students were interviewed and asked why they like Snapchat revealed that the ephemeral content was fun, but at the same time it felt like the interaction was less formal.

Instagram Stories is similar, so the study also applies here. There is a feeling of authenticity that comes with ephemeral posts.

Brands are sometimes blamed for overdoing things. For coming off as contrived. This issue may lead to a loss of trust among customers and fans and ultimately, a drop in sales. Just look at Pepsi’s fiasco with their recent Kendall Jenner ad.

However, marketers will not spend a lot of time designing an ad that vanishes after 24 hours. This promotes the creation of more authentic messages due to the spontaneity of the medium. Like a stand up comic at a local comedy club, marketers can test new ideas they are not absolutely sure about, try new creative ideas, and even act on instinct.

Instagram Stories Ads

According to Instagram’s business blog,

Ads in stories let your business use targeting and reach capabilities that make your ads personally relevant to the people you want to reach. That, paired with measurement tools giving you the confidence to know it works, is unmatched in a stories experience.

The feature was initially offered to only 30 lucky brands in January 2017. A couple of months later, after much positive feedback, Instagram Stories Ads was officially launched to all members of the social media platform. Now the 1 million advertisers active on Instagram now have two methods of placing their ads.

According to Instagram, MOEN, the most popular faucet brand in North America, saw a 45 percent increase in impressions along with a fresh, new way for the brand to create engaging content quickly and efficiently”.

video ad

Snapchat Ads vs. Instagram Stories Ads

According to Forbes, Snapchat is more popular among teens and 18 – 24 year olds. But Instagram reaches a more diverse audience and it performs well with 30 – 49 year olds. And that relates to an important fact in ecommerce marketing: the younger the audience, the less likely it is they will buy something.

Why use Instagram Stories Ads

As shown, Instagram Stories help marketers connect with a diverse audience of all ages. And due to the ephemeral content, audiences are more likely to pay attention to the ads. The platform’s format also keeps viewers from tapping away from “storified” content.

Here’s a good example of how Instagram Stories Ads should look if you want to showcase your products and your promotions. Sales and discounts are immediate attention grabbers.

40 percent off express

Another tip to remember: sex sells. With such a visually focused platform, provocative images, especially in fashion, often lead to spikes in traffic. Take yoga apparel brand Beyond Yoga, known for their high quality yoga pants. They often post Instagram stories that follow women getting through their workouts in their gear. One story went viral and now the brand has over 1 million + followers on Instagram.

Designing your Ads

Let’s take a look at some ways to design your Instagram Stories ads.

Both videos and images can be used. Videos are limited to 15 seconds, but an image will be displayed for only 5 seconds. Therefore you must grab the viewer’s attention immediately.

Whether video or photo, the accepted format is a standard 9:16 full screen vertical with a recommended resolution of 1080 x 1920 pixels. The minimum accepted resolution is 600 x 1067 pixels. The recommended file types are .mp4 or .mov for videos and .jpg or .png for photos. Do not exceed 30 MB for photos or 4 GB for videos.

Recommended tools for maximum efficiency

In order to set up your ad banner you must use Facebook Ads Manager. But first you’ll need a working banner or video to share online. Remember, they will be deleted in just 24 hours so try new ideas. Act on inspiration. Act on impulse. Be creative and think outside the box.

For maximum efficiency, the following tools are recommended:

  1. Bannersnack is an online visual ad design tool that allows you to design your ads quickly and professionally. It features an easy to learn interface and access to many design tools, including templates, stock images, buttons and shapes. You can even create HTML5 animated banners with it. There are also dedicated templates specifically designed to fit the Instagram Ads requirements.


  1. Adobe Express is another great tool for marketers when it comes to designing ads. You can use it to create photo and video banners in just a few minutes. Moreover, you can do it from a mobile device, considering that there are three different apps available for iOS: Spark Page for web pages, Spark Post for photo banners and Spark Video for video banners. You can set up a free account by signing up with your Adobe ID or with your Gmail Account.

Winter Sale

Connecting Instagram to Facebook Ad Manager

In order to get access to Facebook Ad Manager you will need to connect your Instagram account to your Facebook page.

Go to your Facebook page and click on the “Settings” button from the top right corner. Remember that you have to go to the Facebook page and not the Facebook account. Then from the left menu select Instagram.

Settings Instagram

The next panel allows you to log into your Instagram account and complete the integration with your Facebook page.

Manage Instagram on Facebook

Next, you can go to the Facebook Ad Manager interface, available in the drop-down menu of your Facebook Account or Facebook Page, in the top right corner of the screen.

Launching your Campaign

Now you will select your objective. You have three main categories to choose from: Awareness, Consideration, and Conversion. Most ecommerce campaigns will focus on the third option, but, depending on your goals, you might choose the others.

Marketing objective

At this point, if you don’t already have an Ad Account, you must set one up.

Set up ad account

Next, choose the type of promotion, select the audience, the ad placements, and the budget. See the following Screenshots for a clearer image of what the Ads Manager interface looks and feels like.

First, choose the website or app you want to promote.

Create new ad set

Then, target your ads to specific audiences, based on your marketing strategy.

Create new

The next step is to select your ad placements. Of course, we will select Instagram Stories. You will notice that once you check this option, all other options will become unavailable. There are no other full-screen ads.


Finally, you can choose the ad format, upload your files and specify your links.


How to use Instagram Stories Ads and why

Like most ad campaigns, Instagram Stories can be targeted towards multiple goals. Let’s take a look at some of these options and why they may be beneficial for your business. We’ll also review some of the Instagram Stories Ads success stories to better understand how these benefits look in real life scenarios.

Why invest in brand awareness?

More than half of marketers admit they are planning to invest more into brand awareness. They are doing it because a strong brand attracts more customers. At the same time, you need your audience to know about you, know what you have to offer, and who you are. They need to trust you in order to become regulars. Before trust, however, comes awareness. Trust is then built through intense commitment to quality of service and constant communication with your customers.

In short, you will increase customer loyalty, your visibility and your impact on the targeted audience.

However, the ultimate goal is to increase your market lead. The more people know about you, the higher the market lead is. And, when a market lead is high, the sales potential increases. Offer the people a positive experience when they make a purchase and they will continue to spread awareness of your brand.

One example is YOOX, an online store for fashion, design and art. They wanted to position themselves as a top destination for stylish shoppers. And they ran an Instagram Stories Ads campaign that proved to be quite successful.

How did they do it and what were the results? For their Stories Ads campaign, YOOX decided to adapt a TV spot into a video ad that was targeted to men and women aged 25 – 44 years old. Also, they selected their demographics based on interests, which in this case were fashion and shopping. The result was a significant 6-point growth in brand awareness and an 11-point increase in ad recall.

Bouncing balls

Increasing Sales

Let’s face it: this is the first thing marketers think about.

Another example: you may have heard about Virgin Holidays, the leading transatlantic tour operator from the UK. The goal of their Instagram Stories Ads campaign was to drive conversions in-store and online. They wanted to increase sales but they also set a goal on growing brand awareness, two things that go hand in hand.

Their campaign ran for only 3 days in March 2017. Through their video ads, they managed to successfully bring to life some popular landscapes from New York City, San Francisco and Las Vegas, 3 of the top destinations from their travel offer. The video ad introduced the viewer to the cities through powerful and intense depictions of places and people that were supposed to make us feel like we were already there. Ultimately, the campaign resulted in a “2.84x increase in return on ad spend, and the cost per view also fell by 10%.”

Virgin Holidays NYC


Special Promotions

Let’s say your main focus is not on awareness or on immediate sales. For instance, you might want to promote a dedicated app for your website, or other special promotion that may finally lead to the aforementioned goals. Can you do it through Instagram Stories Ads? Of course. In fact, there are success stories in this area as well from which you can learn a lot. I will present an example soon, but first let’s talk a bit about the benefits of a dedicated app for an ecommerce website.

Why invest in promoting an app?

A mobile app will allow you to use push notifications and thus keep your audience connected with your brand and store. It will also allow you to make your store more mobile friendly and give it maximum readability and functionality on mobile. Considering that 90% of the time spent on mobile by the average user is on apps, the idea of building your own dedicated app may not seem bad at all.

An example of this comes from Hopper, a travel company that built a mobile app that was launched in 2015. Their campaign on Instagram Stories Ads targeted “millennials,” a demographic well known for making purchases through mobile apps. They promoted hundreds of deals every week through illustrations depicting dreamy destinations and locations from all around the world. While other travel companies focus on people who are ready to make purchases immediately, Hopper targets a young audience that likes to plan ahead. Their app keeps their audience engaged through push notifications which show price alerts as prices drop.

The results were better than expected. They reached more than 7.5 million people in North America and the Stories Ads generated a 65% increase in app installs and an over 80% increase in bookings for new users.

Hopper ad


Lead Generation

Lead generation is one of the most important sales processes in business. “Lead generation is the process of attracting and converting strangers and prospects into someone who has indicated interest is your company’s product or service.” (Hubspot)

Attract Convert Close Delight

Why invest in lead generation?

Most of the people who want to make a purchase are halfway there when they contact a salesperson. A lead generation campaign grabs the audience’s attention long before they know they are ready to buy your products. Thus, it can accelerate sales and consequently increase profits by decreasing the time between product awareness and the decision to acquire it.

Another example is Mercedes-Benz. The campaign they underwent on Instagram Stories Ads was meant to increase lead generation for their new C-Class Cabriolet model. To this end, they focused their ads on the enjoyment of open-top driving. While the campaign was intended at first as an experiment, the story offered its audience a seamless experience, while showcasing the car in an “exciting and highly aspirational way”.

What were the results? Well, Mercedes-Benz managed to achieve a 9-point increase in ad recall, a 3-point increase in message association with their exclusive tagline and a reach of more than 2.6 million Instagram users.

Mercedes Benz UK ad



Although a new feature, Instagram Stories managed to grow in popularity faster than expected.

This article was meant to shed some light on how Instagram Stories work, why they are a good choice for a marketer and how you can benefit from them at the same time. I hope my advice will help you get the most out of your campaign which eventually will prove to be effective and profitable as well. Remember, however, that regardless of how successful your campaign is, you will have to work even more in order to turn your seasonal or first-time shoppers into regular customers.

What do you think about integrating Instagram Stories Ads in your marketing campaign for your ecommerce website? Please share your experiences in the comments!

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