How to Advertise on Instagram?

Have you ever wondered why brands like H&M Home, Anthropologie, and Burberry, whose content is almost similar to those of other brands in their niches, are killing it on Instagram? While it's true that they already had a massive customer base before joining the platform, giving them a head start, it's hard not to wonder if they're using a secret formula to drive traffic and conversions faster than the rest of us.


The truth is there's no such a secret formula. Successful brands on Instagram utilize the same features that are available to everyone. But unlike most, they maximize those features through optimization, consistent content creation, and skillful ad management. Using a smart mix of organic marketing and paid ads allows them to effectively connect with their desired audience at precisely the right time.


In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the same approach. We will unlock the mysteries of Instagram Ads, understand why it's one of the best places to run ads, and break down the different ad placements to try. We'll also walk you through launching your first ads and reveal our secret to successful ad campaigns. 


The Impact of Instagram Ads on Brands


Out of the dozens of advertising platforms, why choose Instagram? Besides being the fourth most visited website, next to Google, YouTube, and Facebook, and the third most popular social media website, Instagram attracts a large share of advertising budgets from advertisers and brands for various reasons.


  • Massive and Engaged User Base: Instagram boasts over 2 billion monthly active users, 71% of whom are aged 18 to 29. Its user base is highly engaged, spending an average of 33 minutes daily on the platform.


  • Visual Appeal: Instagram is primarily a visual platform, making it ideal for businesses that rely on compelling imagery and videos to showcase their products or services. High-quality visuals capture users' attention and drive engagement.


  • Targeting Options: Instagram allows advertisers to reach their target audience based on demographics, interests, behaviors, and more. This enables advertisers to tailor their ads to specific segments of the user base, increasing relevance and effectiveness.


  • Integration with Facebook: Advertisers can leverage the same powerful advertising tools available on Facebook, including the Facebook Ads Manager and Facebook Pixel. This integration provides seamless cross-platform advertising and allows for comprehensive campaign tracking and analytics.


  • Multiple Ad Formats: Instagram offers a wide array of ad formats to suit different marketing objectives, including photo ads, video ads, carousel ads, Stories ads, and more. This flexibility allows advertisers to experiment with various creative approaches to find what works for their audience.


  • Influencer Partnerships: Instagram is home to countless influencers who have built sizable and highly engaged followings. Collaborating with influencers can help businesses reach a wider audience and build credibility through authentic endorsements and sponsored content.


  • Shopping Features: Instagram has integrated shopping features that allow businesses to tag products directly in their posts and Stories. This makes shopping easier for users by letting them easily find and buy products they see on the platform.


  • Trackable Results: Instagram offers in-depth analytics for ad campaigns, letting advertisers monitor important metrics like reach, engagement, clicks, conversions, and more. This data-driven method helps advertisers gauge their campaigns' effectiveness and improve results through optimization.


What ad placements are available on Instagram?


Knowing the ad formats available on Instagram can boost your brand's visibility and engagement. You don't need to use all of them; just pick the ones that fit your content and can effectively convey your brand message.


  1. Image ads: These are sponsored image posts with clickable links to the advertiser's profile, gallery, or website.


  1. Story ads: IG users will see this included in the Stories they swipe through. Like any typical Story, it can be a static image or a short video. The video may look like a user-generated video (to drive organic traffic) or a well-produced one.


  1. Video ads: Instagram also sponsors videos created for advertisements. These videos appear in-feed, along with user-generated content. Specifically, they appear on the feed of the advertiser's target audience. Advertisers can use video ads to promote their brands or products in an engaging way.


  1. Carousel ads: These ads consist of multiple photos or videos that Instagram users can scroll through. They're an excellent way to showcase your brand in a more detailed way. You don't have to compress everything into a single photo or 30-second video. 


  1. Collection ads: These are carousels that showcase the products in your gallery instead of ad creatives. Viewers can swipe through them, and when they click on any item, they're taken to the listing where they can decide to buy.


  1. Explore ads: These are images or videos that appear on people's Explore Pages. Instagram's Explore page is unique for each member and is specifically set up by the algorithm based on a member's interests and profile. 


  1. Shopping ads: Like collection ads, shopping ads feature products from your catalog or gallery. They usually come with a more aggressive CTA, such as "shop now," "check out now," or "place an order." Unlike collection ads, which take you to the product description first, shopping ads take the buyer to the order placement section. 


  1. Reels ads: These are images or videos that appear among the Reels. 


How to Advertise on Instagram


To run ads on Instagram, you need Meta Ads Manager, a Facebook business page, and an Instagram business account. You must link your Instagram business account to your Facebook business page. Only published Facebook business pages may run Instagram ads.


Step 1: Set up a Facebook Business page.


Assuming you already have a Facebook account, go to the Menu in the top right corner and select "Pages" from the list. Provide the required information and upload a profile picture and a banner. Follow Facebook's guidelines for creating a banner to ensure it's the right size and resolution.


Now, set up your Instagram Business account. Assuming you already have an Instagram account, all you need to do is convert it to a business account. When Meta says "business account," it means either a creator or a business account. So, you can create either account to run Instagram ads.


  1. Open your Instagram app, and go to your profile. 
  2. Tap the hamburger icon in the lower left corner (on a PC) or top right corner (on a mobile device), and select "Settings."
  3. Scroll down and select "Account type and tools."
  4. Select "Switch to a professional account." 
  5. Select "Creator" or "Business," depending on your needs.
  6. Select a category that best describes your content or business.
  7. Complete your profile details.


Tip: Setting up a professional or creator account is better done on your phone because some functions, such as editing website links, are only accessible through the mobile app.


The next step is to connect your Instagram business account to your Facebook business page. Just go to "Account Centre" and click "Connected Experience." This will allow you to sync activities on both accounts, which is vital to your advertising campaigns.


Now, you can navigate Meta Ads Manager to create and manage your Instagram ads. This is accessible through Facebook but serves as a hub for all your paid ad activities across Facebook and Instagram. This is where you can see how your Instagram ads are doing.


To access Meta Ads Manager, click here and select "All Tools." Then, click "Ads Manager." If you don't have an Ad account yet, you'll be asked to complete a form, which includes providing specific business information and a payment method.


Step 2: Create an ad campaign.


On your Ads Manager, click "Create." You'll see a popup that lets you create a new campaign. An ad is the umbrella that holds all your ads under one roof. Then, choose an objective based on your goals. Here are your options:


  • Awareness: Target members who have no idea your brand exists.
  • Traffic: Target members who may or may not know your brand and are likely to click on your ads.
  • Engagement: Target members who are likely to interact with you or your followers by reacting or commenting on your ads. 
  • Leads: Increase your chance of conversion by targeting members who are likely to buy your products.
  • Ad Promotion: Standard advertising that aims for both awareness and traffic.
  • Sales: Target members who are ready to purchase.


After choosing an objective, it's time to organize your ads. First, give your ad campaign a name. Make sure this name is unique to avoid confusion when adding more ad campaigns.


Tip: Since you can only select one ad campaign objective at a time, consider running multiple ad campaigns, each with its unique objective, to expand your reach.


It's time to create assets. These are groups of ads with unique targeting and budget. On other advertising platforms, they are called ad groups. Like ad campaigns, you can create multiple assets to target different audiences or test which budget type works best.


For instance, you can create an asset targeting females and another one targeting males under the same campaign that aims to increase brand awareness. You may also run the ads with a lifetime or daily budget. It all comes down to diversifying, which is an efficient way to spread your ads. 


When creating an asset, you must give it a name, choose a performance goal, and set a budget. Always select "Maximize reach of ads" as your performance goal to get the most 1,000 impressions, as Meta uses the highest-volume bid strategy.


For placement, choose "Manual Placements" to maintain control of where your ads should show up. However, Meta recommends selecting more placements to increase your chance of reaching your target audience.


Meta can distribute your ads on Facebook, Messenger, Meta Audience Network, and Instagram. However, if most of your target audience is on Instagram, you can decide to focus on Instagram to maximize your ad budget.


If you want your ads to appear on all placements available for your setting, take advantage of Advantage+ placements. This is a relatively new feature that you can test out, but make sure to set aside enough budget for it because displaying your ads in multiple places will cost more.


Here comes the fun part—choosing content to pair with your ads. As previously explained, Instagram ads come in different formats. You can choose any format you like as long as you have the appropriate ad creatives. 


I may have split the ad formats into more specific types above, but Meta classifies them into three. Choose the format that can best convey your message:


  • Single Image or video – One image or video or a slideshow with multiple images
  • Carousel – Two or more scrollable images or videos
  • Collection – A group of items that opens into a full mobile screen experience


After uploading your media, create an ad copy that can capture the viewers' attention and trigger them to act—click the link below the media, explore your inventory, and purchase.


Finally, you can hit "Publish" if your ad is ready to run or "Save" if you want to check it or make changes later. Repeat this process when adding ad campaigns or assets.


How to Make Your Instagram Ads Explode


Running ads doesn't always guarantee brand awareness or conversions. Instagram can only do so much to promote your brand. There are things that only you can do to optimize your ads. Here are some helpful tips.


  1. Plan your ads with the intent to solve your audience's problems. Understand your audience. Find out about their pain points and how your products can solve them. Design your creative and copy based on the solution you have to offer.


  1. Maximize your reach by creating a lookalike audience. A lookalike audience consists of Instagram users like those who have already interacted with you. This can help you widen your reach but with precise targeting. 


  1. Prioritize your scroll stopper. The first few seconds are the most critical part of your video. Make sure that part contains elements that will hook your viewers until the end. 


  1. Improve your call to action. Maybe your CTA doesn't match your ad campaign objective. For example, you're probably using "Contact Us" for an ad meant to convince viewers to buy when you could use "Shop Now" instead.


  1. Push your product's value to the front and the price behind it. In fact, omit the price from your ad altogether to boost your product's perceived value. Once your audience understands the benefits of your product, its price will have little influence over their purchase decision.


  1. Capitalize on seasonality. Time your Instagram ad runs appropriately to take advantage of trends and hype. If you run ads about your Black Friday sale too early, people will forget about it or find a better deal when it's time to purchase.


  1. Keep your audience hooked with Storytelling. Use relatable concepts for your videos. If you're using images, present them in a carousel, each image telling a story that ties into the next. Use lifestyle images to convey a sense of realism and authenticity.


  1. Manage your ad frequency. You don't want to show your ads to the same people over and over. That will lead to ad fatigue, which can do your brand more harm than good. 


  1. Keep your viewers on their toes with quick-paced videos. Your audience doesn't have all day to wait for the good parts in your video. Keep the cuts short and punchy to hype your audience up within a short period.


  1. Trust Meta's algorithm. You can choose to be specific in your ad targeting. However, consider being broad in some of your ad campaigns to leverage Meta's massive data and precision targeting system. Let Instagram do the heavy lifting so you can focus on core tasks.


  1. Only use high-quality, relevant, and compliant creative for your ads. Your goal is to impress or relate to the viewers enough to convince them to click the link. That won't happen if the content you use sucks or doesn't trigger impulse emotions. Using captions and text overlays is among the things you can do to enhance your content. Still, avoid overproducing content. Most people instantly scroll past content that gives off an ad vibe.


  1. Show how to use your products. Even in social media, where people love to talk, action speaks louder than words. Instead of explaining how your products work, demonstrate how to use them. This will not only educate your audience about your products but also show them how durable and effective they are.


How much does it cost to advertise on Instagram?


The cost of Instagram ads varies depending on several factors, including:


  • Bid amount: how much you're willing to spend on each ad campaign
  • Ad relevancy: how relevant your ads are to those who see them
  • Action rate: the likelihood of people to view and react on your ads
  • Competition: how many other brands are targeting the same audience
  • Market size: advertising to small markets costs more
  • Day and time: what day of the week or time of the day your target audience is most active


On average, this is how much Instagram Ads can cost you:


  • Cost per click: $0.00 – $0.75 
  • Cost per 1,000 impressions: $0.00 – $6.00
  • Cost per engagement: $0.03 – $0.08
  • Monthly budget: $500.00
  • Budget allocation: 20% of your total advertising budget


You can increase your ad spend to expand your reach and boost ad engagement. However, the above optimization tips can help you save on advertising. Set a realistic goal and budget to keep your ad campaigns cohesive and your targeting precise.


Boosting a post: Is it better than running ad campaigns?


Instagram Boost is another way to advertise on Instagram. It works the same way as Facebook Boost or TikTok Promote. But like any other on-platform service, Instagram Boost has its pros and cons:




  1. It can help you reach an audience beyond your followers.
  2. It allows you to target specific demographics, interests, and behaviors.
  3. The process can be done directly within the Instagram app. It doesn't require extensive ad management knowledge.
  4. You have control over how much you want to spend, making it suitable for businesses of all sizes with varying advertising budgets.




  1. Targeting options are limited, which could potentially lower ROI.
  2. Results are temporary or short-term, as they disappear from users' feeds once the boosting period ends. 
  3. You risk overspending, especially if the performance metrics don't meet your expectations.
  4. Unlike full-scale ad campaigns, boosted posts offer limited customization options.


Instagram Boost is ideal for ads intended to raise brand awareness or grow your following. What's great about it is that you can use just about any creative or post available on your gallery. Unfortunately, you cannot anchor a link to your website or landing page on boosted posts. 


Advertise on Instagram Today!


Many brands rely on Instagram Ads for one simple reason—It works! With a sufficient budget, precise targeting, and compelling ad copy, you can crush it on Instagram like the many success Stories you know. Let this guide help you set up your first ad campaign, track your progress, and achieve your marketing goals.