How to Use Instagram Story Ads

Ana Gotter
16 August, 2017

Every time the Facebook Ads system rolls out a new feature, it’s almost always excellent and offer a new or better way to connect with your target audience. Instagram Story Ads are no exception to this trend.

Story Ads are a relatively new type of Instagram Ad, appearing between the stories of users that you follow. You can create and manage them through Facebook’s Ads manager or Power Editor, like regular Instagram Ads, but they’re far from being the same thing. In this post, we’re going to go over the unique pros and cons of Instagram Story Ads, along with how to create them for best results.

Why Should I Use Instagram Story Ads?

Instagram Story Ads (which aren’t found in a user’s feed, like regular Instagram Ads) are an extremely valuable new ad format. The stories feature has a relatively high engagement rate even when compared to rates across all social media platforms.

Caption: Regular Ads vs. Story Ads

Until recently, Story Ads were limited in functionality because we could only use the “Reach” objective to create them. This meant that you could only show users a brief story and hope that they remembered your business’s name to look you up afterwards. Now, though, there are multiple new objective types you can use to include links and clickable CTAs into the Story Ads, making them much more effective.

Drawbacks of Story Ads

I love Instagram’s Story Ads thanks to the new additions, but there is still a huge drawback that you need to take into consideration when running them: Instagram Story Ads, like stories themselves, are not permanent.

Once the Story is over, users can’t click back to them. They don’t exist permanently in a feed, like typical Instagram Ads, which you can scroll to and from at will. Instead, they’ll show up once, and then poof, they’re gone.

Ultimately I don’t consider this to be a fatal flaw of Story Ads; it’s more like a bump in the road. After all, with all ads you need to grab a user’s attention quickly or you’ll never get it again, anyways. This just makes that need a little more urgent.

How to Create Instagram Story Ads Through Facebooks Ad Manager

Creating an Instagram Story Ad is exceptionally easy; it’s just like creating any other type of Facebook or Instagram Ad. You can create them in Power Editor or the Ads Manager. For this example, we’ll show you how to create them within the Ads Manager.

You can choose from any of the following objectives:

  • Reach
  • Video Views
  • Conversions
  • Traffic
  • Mobile App Installs

I highly recommend focusing on the last three so that you can send traffic to your site; they’ll watch the video either way!

Creating an Instagram Ad

Next, you’ll set your audience. You can use any audience targeting that you’d use on other Facebook or Instagram Ads, including custom and lookalike audiences.

Creating an Instagram Ad 2

Beneath this, you’ll need to set Instagram Story Ads as your placement. By doing this, all other ad types will be disabled for this campaign because of the unique format this ad has. Don’t forget to set a budget and schedule while on this page.

Creating an Instagram Ad 3

In the creatives section, you’ll need to upload the video or image you’re using. It must be 15 seconds or less, with an image ratio of 9:16.

Creating an Instagram Ad 4

Once you’ve selected your video, add in the exact site destination you want to send users to and choose your CTA, and you’re done!

Creating an Instagram Ad 5

How to Get Results With Instagram Story Ads

Want to get actual results with your Instagram Story Ads instead of just views? You can follow these best practices to build brand awareness and drive user action on every Story Ad you run:

  • Use on-screen text to place focus on the CTA. Story Ads created under every available objective except the reach objective allow you to place CTA’s like “Learn More.” The user can click or swipe up. Adding your own text on the actual screen helps the Story fit into with other content (where text, emojis, and drawings are placed on the actual story) while also placing focus on the action you want the user to take. The Story Ad from Daily Look pictured below is a fantastic example on how to do this.
  • Make your brand’s name known. Yes, your profile name and profile image will be featured in the top left hand corner of the ad. That’s a great start! But when you’re playing a video in front of them that can only last 15 seconds before it’s gone, you don’t want to count on your user seeing your brand name. Make your identity readily apparent so that even if they miss the chance to convert, they can look you up later. Daily Look did this by using their brand name on the box in the video, which was the first thing users saw when it started.
  • Use videos. I don’t think I’ve seen a single Story Ad that wasn’t a video (the one almost-close exception being a slideshow of images). There’s a good reason for this: the Story Ad gives you fifteen seconds of video, and you want to use every second to win users over. Unlike traditional Instagram Ads, you don’t get captions to explain why your product is great- you have to show it, and fast, and there’s no better way to do that than video. It’s part of why the Daily Look example pictured above—which just shows the clothing box being opened and unpacked—is so effective. It tells you what the service is immediately. A similar (but not identical) example of a video can be viewed here:

Final Thoughts

With the new objectives that were just added to Instagram Story Ads within the last month, Story Ads have become significantly more valuable for both the marketers running them and the users viewing them. By taking our Story Ads best practices into consideration, you’ll be able to create high converting ads that capture both viewers’ interest and clicks.

Ana Gotter


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