Instagram Advertising

by Shubhangi Jain
5 min read
29th Mar, 2020
Posted on 29th March 2020
Instagram Advertising

If you've ever posted anything on social media as a small brand, you know how often it feels like you're talking to avoid. Too often, no one responds. No likes, comments, retweets—you get the idea.

Not so with Instagram. No matter how small your audience, your posts probably still receive at least a few likes and comments—especially if you use Instagram hashtags that are relevant. And with 500 million daily active users, it’s an enticing marketing channel.

The business case to learn how to make money on Instagram is strong. Not only does Instagram's engagement demolish Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, and LinkedIn, but, for brands, it even outperforms Facebook by a factor of ten.


What Is Instagram Advertising?

Instagram advertising is a method of paying to post sponsored content on the Instagram platform to reach a larger and more targeted audience. While there are many reasons a business or individual may decide to advertise, Instagram advertising is often utilized to grow brand exposure, website traffic, generate new leads, and move current leads down the funnel (and hopefully towards converting).

Since Instagram is such a visual platform, text ads are not a thing here. Rather you need an image, set of images, or video (which can be accompanied by text) to reach your audience with Instagram ads.

Similar to Facebook ads, throwing some money behind a post will lead to more exposure for your brand, as well as more control over who can see your post.


Is Instagram Advertising Right for Your Business?

This leads to the obvious question: Who is on Instagram? Is it just teenagers taking selfies? Or 20-somethings looking for recipes? What about older populations? Are they “gramming” their grandchildren?

Unfortunately for all you marketers targeting the grandparent demographic, Instagram does tend to skew towards a more youthful audience, with the largest percentage of users falling in the age range of 18-29 (55%), then between 30-49 years-old (28%). Only 11% of Instagram users are between the ages of 50-64, and just 4% are adults over 65.

According to Hootsuite, the majority of Instagram users live in urban areas (32%), 28% of users live in the suburbs, and 18% of users in the country. While there are more women on Instagram than men, the gender gap is not as large as it once was.

If this doesn’t sound like the audience you’re targeting, you still should not dismiss the social network as a useless opportunity. Similar to what happened with Facebook, more and more adults over 34 will likely be hopping on the Instagram bandwagon as the platform continues to grow. Also, if you are working with the 4% of adults over 65, you can always target that demographic directly…

Similar to many other social advertising platforms, Instagram gives you the granular control to target specific genders, age ranges, locations, interests, behaviors, and more. You can even target a custom or lookalike audience so you're showing ads only to your direct list of leads or those who have a similar makeup.

What advertisers should latch onto is the fact that Instagram uses Facebook's demographic data to serve up ads to the appropriate parties. This makes the tool super valuable for advertisers looking to target a niche audience because Facebook already has a thorough history and thorough demographic targeting options.


Here are a few more reasons why your business should advertise on Instagram:

  1. Anyone can advertise on Instagram

    Thanks to Instagram’s “promoted posts” ad format, which is extremely easy to set up, there’s a very low barrier to entry for running ad campaigns on Instagram.

  2. You get access to Facebook’s advanced targeting tools

    Instagram uses Facebook’s advertising platform, which is widely considered one of the best in the world.

    Facebook provides tons of targeting options — you can reach people based on their behavior on your website, their engagement with your Facebook page, and other demographic data like age, gender, and location.

  3. Audience engagement on Instagram is still really high

    Instagram users are more engaged than the average social media user. And while trends do seem to show that Instagram engagement is dropping, the platform is still producing higher engagement rates for businesses compared to both Twitter and Facebook.

  4. Instagram ads look and feel like organic content

    Because Instagram ads are relatively subtle, users are much less likely to succumb to “banner blindness” when scrolling their feeds.

  5. Instagram is already a big “shopping” destination

    Instagram has already played heavily into shopping (tons of features that promote organic shopping experiences), so audiences are already primed to be sold to.


Types of Instagram ads

You can run five different types of Instagram ads:

Photo Ads

A Photo Ad is one simple photo in landscape or square format. These are the simplest in terms of visual asset needs since you just need a single image. Here's an example of a Photo Ad from outdoor e-commerce brand Fimbulvetr Snowshoes, which takes users to the product page of the snowshoe featured in the ad creative.

Video Ads

Instagram used to have a 15-second limit for videos, but it has since lifted that rule. Now, videos can be up to 60 seconds long and shot in landscape or square format. IGTV which is Instagram TV was also introduced.

Carousel Ads

An Instagram Carousel Ad can have anywhere from two to ten images and/or videos that users can view by swiping through.

Slideshow Ads

Slideshow Ads are similar to video ads in that they appear as a video in users’ feeds. These ads, however, are made up of a series of still images which play as a video, much like a slideshow. You can add text and audio to your Slideshow Ads.

Stories Ads

Instagram Stories Ads is one of the newest kinds of ads available to businesses on the platform. Instagram Stories are similar to Snapchat in that they allow users, and brands, to share self-destructing photos and videos. Brands can also advertise on Instagram Stories with a photo or video content.


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