The Ultimate Guide to Instagram Paid Ads

With 2 billion active users, running Instagram paid ads isn't an option to cut through the noise. Everything you should know about Instagram paid ads is here.

Instagram has become a powerful marketing tool for businesses of all sizes and niches, as it’s been proven to boost customer interest. As specified in one recent study, the majority of users take actions after seeing a product or service on Instagram: 79% search for more information, 65% visit the brand’s website, and 46% buy a featured product or service.

With the great potential of Instagram, it’s no wonder that competition is high on the platform. But there’s a proven way to cut through the noise and connect with your target audience. How? Invest in Instagram paid ads!

A Quick Introduction to Instagram Paid Ads

As the name suggests, an Instagram paid ad is a form of social media advertising that allows businesses to set up ads with the right objectives and therefore promote a product or a service on the platform. Instagram ads always include a visual element – image or video – and they offer various ad placements:

  • Photo ads
  • Video ads
  • Carousel ads
  • Story ads
  • Collection ads
  • Explore ads
  • Shopping ads
  • Reels ads

Here’s how an Instagram paid ad can look in action:

The global advertising audience on Instagram has quickly grown, encouraging more and more advertisers to run paid ad campaigns on the platform and therefore get in front of their potential customers with ease.

However, audience size isn’t the only reason for marketers to consider paid ads on Instagram.

Reasons for Brands to Invest in Instagram Paid Ads

Using Instagram paid ads has a range of benefits for businesses of all sizes and niches. Here are three main reasons to give Instagram paid ads a try:

  • Reach a wider audience: Instagram has 2 billion users, so its potential audience is huge. However, it’s nearly impossible to have all of your prospective customers as followers, so you need to seek out new ways to reach your target audience in-app, and Instagram paid ads can help you accelerate the process.
  • Achieve business goals: Instagram ads offer a variety of ad objectives to help advertisers and marketers create the right ad campaign that delivers results. Whether you want to increase brand awareness, get more leads, promote your own membership, or boost sales, Instagram ads are made to assist you.
  • Stand out from the crowd: Instagram is one of the most cost-effective social media platforms, so a great number of businesses opt for organic growth methods. At the same time, running paid ad campaigns can help you achieve goals faster, leaving your competitors behind you.

Yes, Instagram ads can help to achieve your business goals, and the results can be wonderful if you know what you’re doing.

Case in point:

To raise awareness and increase sales, keto food brand Kettle & Fire decided to run mobile-optimized Instagram video ads, so the company wanted to work with creators who could help them create eye-grabbing video content.

In collaboration with Popular Pays, an agile content creator network from Lightricks, the Kettle & Fire marketing team sourced video ads of various lengths that resulted in 1.5x higher sales conversions, 1.5x higher lift in purchase consideration, and a 14-point lift in brand awareness.

Here’s an example of this ad campaign from Ronny Lvovski (aka @primal_gourmet on Instagram):

Now that you see the potential of Instagram paid ads, it’s high time to take a look at some best practices to inspire your next ad campaign.

6 Best Practices for Instagram Paid Ads

1. Choose the Right Instagram Ad Format

Back in 2013, when Instagram launched paid ads on the platform, the functionality of ads was limited to one option: in-feed photo ads. Over time, Instagram has added more and more different ad formats to help you find more potential customers. Today, the platform offers a wide array of ad formats like image ads, Stories ads, Shop ads, Explore ads, Reels ads, etc.

For advertisers, this means an opportunity to analyze their goals and experiment with ad formats to focus on the right one. For instance, when GAP wanted to introduce its “The Logo Remix” collection, the company teamed up with the world’s leading remixers on dynamic and engaging videos to run carousel ads in Stories. The campaign yielded 17-point lift in ad recall and 73% higher click-through-rate than Gap’s earlier campaigns.

When you lay a bet on Instagram Story ads, not only do you connect with engaged customers who scroll through Stories in the moment, but you also get a chance to boost Instagram Story impressions and therefore help your content stand in front of a larger audience of potential customers.

However, when choosing the right ad format, it’s important to think about your audience first and know their preferences and habits.

2. Make Good Use of in-Built Features

Instagram knows the sales potential of its platform, so the company has a wide array of in-built features that help businesses improve customer experience. When it comes to Instagram paid ads, there’s a range of features that can help you get results faster.

From product tags to CTA buttons and clickable links, there are many ways to optimize your ad campaign for more profit. For example, if you want to start a fitness clothing line and sell activewear online, it’s a good idea to include shopping tags in your Instagram ads and therefore help potential customers discover more about featured items or even complete a purchase without leaving the app.

Check out how Sweaty Betty did it in the campaign below:

And if your business normally focuses on pay-per-call advertising and you want to generate more leads for your business, it would be great to make the most out of clickable links that redirect interested viewers to a lead gen landing page for collecting their contact information.

3. Invest in Eye-Grabbing Visuals

It’s no secret that it’s important to invest in eye-grabbing visuals when you work on both paid and organic social content for Instagram, as it’s all about visual content and users pay close attention to images and videos you post.

And when you run Instagram paid ads, you have just a few seconds to grab the attention of your target audience and interest them in your business, so another significant element of your ad is a stunning visual.

Let’s take a look at an ad from Lacoste:

When it comes to classic polo t-shirts, Lacoste needs no introduction. But fewer people know that this brand produces other high-quality lifestyle items like bath and bedding products. So the brand invested in stunning visuals to promote its bedding products among Instagram users and created a series of eye-grabbing images and it resulted in 61% lift in click-through-rate.

And if you want to take your ad to the next level and wow your viewers, it’s a good idea to rely on the trends of Instagram video marketing and create videos for your ad with the help of video editing tools.

For more tips, download our Guide to Ad Creative Best Practices:

4. Collaborate with Niche Influencers

Influencer marketing has become one of the most effective forms of promoting products as people follow opinion leaders on social media and trust their recommendations and feedback as much as their real-world friends.

Instagram advertising also offers businesses an opportunity to team up with relevant influencers on product endorsements and boost their posts to a wider audience with the help of branded content ads.

Any examples needed? Check out how one teeth whitening company teamed up with professional athlete Conor McGregor:

Obviously, it can be difficult for most brands to secure a collaboration with the world’s most famous MMA fighter, but you can always team up with smaller influencers who share the same target audience as you. Moreover, the phenomenon of nano-influencers – those opinion leaders who have a smaller yet loyal following – is growing in popularity among small and medium businesses, and it gives wonderful results.

5. Leverage the Power of FOMO

When it comes to online shopping, most people make impulse purchases from time to time. And when you run ad campaigns, you also need to encourage action from viewers, so it’s a smart idea to leverage the power of the FOMO (fear of missing out) effect and offer potential customers something available for a limited time. This tactic works best if you promote events on social media but it’s not limited to it.

In honor of Black Friday, Nespresso Turkey offered special discounts for its customers, so the company made an Instagram ad that told potential customers about the offer, adding a time frame to the visual.

This campaign resulted in an 18% increase in sales volume, 15% lower cost per purchase, and 1.9X higher return on ad spend.

Here are a few more ideas for how to leverage the FOMO effect in your next Instagram paid ad campaign:

  • Put information about the time frame in the image
  • Include the countdown sticker in your Story ads
  • Add relevant emojis that emphasize urgency


You probably understand the importance of digital advertising for your business. Having an Instagram presence, it’s also important to run Instagram paid ads as it’s one of the most effective and fastest ways to boost your business and market your product or service. Moreover, Instagram advertising has a variety of settings (objectives, formats, etc.) to help different businesses set up the right ad campaign and get results.

If you want to run effective Instagram ads and get better Return on Ad Spend, get in touch today!

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