Instagram Ads – The beginners guide


10 mins

Instagram Metrics You Need to Track to Understand Your Performance

Table of Contents

So you’ve decided to dip your toe into Instagram advertising. Congratulations! You’re about to join the ranks of some of the most successful brands in the world. But before you get started, there are a few things you need to know. 

In this beginner’s guide, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about how to make Instagram ads. By the end of this post, you’ll have a strong understanding of how Instagram ads work and how you can use them to achieve your marketing goals, like brand awareness, especially when you’re just starting your business.

What are Instagram Ads?

Instagram ads appear throughout the app, including in users’ feeds, Stories, Explore, and other areas. 

They look similar to regular posts but always include a “sponsored” label to indicate that they are an advertisement. Additionally, they frequently have more features than a standard post, such as links, CTA buttons, and product catalogues.

Instagram Ads allow brands to advertise online while showcasing their creative side through images, videos, and other visual content. They are essentially advertisements on Instagram’s social media platform, which Facebook now owns. 

Businesses must first decide what type of ad will be most effective for them before developing creative consistent with their overall marketing strategy. 

After creating the ad, Instagram will work with the company to target their ads to users who are most likely to be interested in what they’re selling. Because Instagram is all about visuals, these ads are usually eye-catching and engaging, which helps raise brand awareness and create a positive impression of the company.

The targeting options available to advertisers on Facebook are unparalleled in the industry. Because of the vast amount of user data it has amassed, Facebook can offer advertisers various options for targeting their campaigns.

Advertisers, for example, can target users based on their interests, demographics, and behaviour. This enables advertisers to narrowly target their campaigns and ensure that they reach the right people.

How much do Instagram Ads cost?

There is no standard or average cost when you create Instagram ads because they depend so heavily on several different variables, including:

  • Targeting
  • Industry competition
  • Time of year
  • Ad placements

Here is the average ad spend on Instagram compared to Facebook:


Facebook Average Cost

Instagram Average Cost

Cost-per-click (CPC)


$0.40 – $0.95

Cost-per-thousand impressions (CPM)

$2.28 – $30.97 (depending on industry)

$0.01 and $0.05

Cost-per-lead (CPL)

$6.89 – $12.91 (depending on industry)

$2.50 and $3.50

You can determine if your budget settings will be adequate to reach your desired audience within the specified time frame by setting up a draft campaign in Ads Manager and looking for the Audience Definition and Estimated Daily Results modules.

But understand that in highly competitive industries – such as clothing/apparel – costs can increase significantly, and ads may go up to $3.00 per click.

By narrowing your audience, you can reach more truly interested individuals in your products or services. As a result, your ad content will appeal to their interests and desires, resulting in a higher ad rank and a low cost per click.

Are Instagram Ads worth it?

Yes! Instagram advertising works and, therefore, is worth it. This photo-sharing app’s advertisements have the potential to reach a large audience and generate leads and sales. Here’s why:

  • Instagram has over 1.4 billion active monthly users – people of all ages and from all over the world are included. Therefore, your target audience is almost certainly on Instagram.
  • Instagram is a visually rich platform. Ads with appealing visuals, such as photos and videos, are more likely to catch users’ attention than ads with only text.
  • Instagram ads can be tailored to specific demographics. Ads can be targeted based on age, location, and interests. This ensures that your advertisement reaches the people most likely to be interested in your product or service.

Types of Instagram Ads

Instagram offers many advertisements to enable businesses to reach their target audiences and sales objectives. And despite being a popular video and image social app, there are other options you can use when creating Instagram ads. They are categorized under format-based and section-based.

Format-based Ads

These are the types of ads that you see in between people’s posts in your feed. Here are some of them:

1. Photo/Image ads

Apart from being a low-cost option, this format emphasizes the photo itself. So, if you have a high-quality photo professionally designed/edited as an ad, this format is ideal.


  • PNG or JPG
  • At least 1080 x 1080 pixels resolution
  • 9:16 Ratio
  • 30 Mb max file size
  • 500 x 500 pixels minimum width and height
  • 1% aspect ratio tolerance

125 characters for the primary text

2. Carousel Ads

Businesses can give users a more in-depth look at their brand and what they have to offer by using multiple images or videos in a single ad. Carousel ads are particularly effective for e-commerce businesses because they allow you to showcase multiple products in one go.


  • PNG or JPG for images
  • GIF, MOV, or MP4 for video
  • At least 1080 x 1080 pixels resolution
  • 1.91:1 to 1:1 ratio
  • 30 Mb max file size for images
  • 4 Gb max file size for video
  • 500 x 500 pixels minimum width and height for image and video
  • 125 characters for the primary text
  • 40 characters for the headline
  • A landing page link is required
  • Instant Experience is required

3. Collection Ads

A collection ad is similar to Carousel. Businesses can tell a story and allow customers to browse and learn more about multiple products before purchasing, showcasing images in one layout.


  • PNG or JPG for images
  • GIF, MOV, or MP4 for video
  • At least 1080 x 1080 pixels resolution
  • 1.91:1 to 1:1 ratio
  • 30 Mb max file size for images
  • 4 Gb max file size for video
  • 500 x 500 pixels minimum width and height for image and video
  • 125 characters for the primary text
  • 40 characters for the headline
  • A landing page link is required
  • Instant Experience is required

4. Video Ads

These are short videos businesses can use to promote their products or services on the platform. These videos can be up to 60 seconds long and can be edited and formatted to fit within the square Instagram video format. 


  • GIF, MOV, or MP4 
  • Subtitle/Captions (optional)
  • Audio (optional)
  • 4:5 Ratio
  • At least 1080 x 1080 pixels resolution
  • 500 x 500 pixels minimum 
  • Max file size of 250 Mb
  • 1% aspect ratio tolerance
  • 1 sec – 60 min video length
  • 125 characters for the primary text
  • Maximum of 30 hashtags

5. Shopping Ads

Shopping ads are an effective way for retailers to reach potential customers who are actively searching for their desired products and purchase them directly on Instagram. A product catalog is required to use shopping ads.

Section-based Ads

Like its namesake, section-based ads will showcase your ads in different sections of the app besides the normal feed. This is a great way to reach your target market because other methods can be applied. Let’s take a look at some examples:

1. Stories Ads

These offer brands a new way to reach their target audiences on the popular social media platform. Stories ads, as opposed to traditional ads, appear in the main feed and can be skipped.

It’s an excellent way to capture attention and promote products or services since these ads appear between users’ stories, making them look like organic posts.

2. Explore Ads

Explore ads are a new way to reach out to potential customers on the platform. The Explore function shows users content personalized for them, and the ads appearing in this section are highly targeted. 

If your ads are correctly set up, they will be shown to people who are already interested in what you have to say. That said, exploring ads is an excellent way to reach new customers and grow your Instagram brand.

3. Feed Ads

Feed ads appear in users’ feeds alongside organic content. As a result, users may be unaware they see an ad until they see the “Sponsored” label. Brands benefit from this advertisement because it allows them to reach a large audience with their message. 

Furthermore, because these ads blend in with organic content, they may be more effective than other types of ads. However, because users may be unaware they see an advertisement, brands must ensure their message is clear and concise.

4. Reels Ads

Reels is a feature on Insta that lets you create and share short clips. Reels are similar to TikTok because they allow you to make quick, engaging videos. 

Unlike Stories, which disappear after 24 hours, reels will not disappear and can be viewed by anyone who has access to your account.

How to advertise on Instagram

There are two ways to advertise on Instagram: by promoting an existing post or by using Meta Ads Manager (formerly Facebook Ads Manager).

As long as you have the following, you can run ads on Instagram:

  • A Facebook Ads Manager (Meta Ads Manager)
  • A Facebook Page
  • An Instagram Professional Account

Make sure to link all three together and that Instagram is selected in the Ad Preview part when accessing your Ads Manager.

Promoting a post on Instagram

Promoting a post is an excellent way to increase its visibility and reach a larger audience. 

To promote an existing post, simply click the ‘Promote’ button next to the post you want to promote, similar to Facebook’s ‘boost post’ option. Then accomplish the details needed:

  • Audience your target market.
  • Goal the result you want to achieve.
  • Budget the amount you’re willing to shell out per day.
  • Duration – how long you plan to run the ad.

After that, select “Next,” then “Boost,” to complete the process.

Using Facebook Ads Manager to create Instagram Ads

Facebook and Instagram are integrated, so you’ll need Facebook Ads Manager (Meta Ads Manager) to create an ad on Instagram. If you haven’t linked your Instagram account, please do so. Then simply follow these steps:

Step 1: Log in to Ads Manager and click the “+ Create” button

You can choose between Quick Creation and Guided Creation. Choosing Guided Creation is highly advisable if you’re clueless about how to do Instagram ads.

Step 2: Choose the campaign objective according to your preferred category: Awareness, Consideration, or Conversion. Don’t rush this part, though. You want to give it a deep thought because it will affect your whole campaign performance. 

If your objective is to increase conversions, you need to have Facebook Pixel to track conversions and sales on your website.

Step 3: Name your campaign. 

This is crucial, especially when you’re running multiple campaigns or when you’re running an A/B test.

Step 4: Set budget and schedule. 

You can choose between manual setup and Campaign Budget Optimization. This will help you dictate how much you are willing to spend and for how long.

For first-timers, Campaign Budget Optimization is always advisable. It will allocate your budget to the ads that are performing better. Not only will it pay the lowest amount for every conversion.

Then you get to choose between Lifetime and Daily Budget. A Lifetime Budget is for running a specific schedule for your ad campaign, while the Daily Budget is the amount you’re willing to spend per day for your ad.

With a Lifetime Budget, you can configure it to run on a schedule – it can be weekdays only, weekends only, or whichever you prefer.

Step 5: Identify the target audience. 

The more specific your choices are about demographics, behaviors, and interests, the more your campaign will get noticed by the intended audience.

You can also use the Custom Audience option to target your website visitors, current customers, and those on your contact list.

Step 6: Select ad placements. 

The Ads Managers will present two options for you to choose from: Automatic and Manual.

Automatic will place your ads across different IG properties that will work best. Meanwhile, Manual is where you can select Instagram properties where you want your ad to appear.

Use the preview facility.

Step 7: Create the ads.

You can do so by choosing your FB page and integrated IG account and selecting your desired ad format. Then proceed with the following steps:

  • Choose between new images and videos or an existing post. 
  • Write your copy.
  • Choose your preferred payment option.
  • Preview your ads on how they would look on different properties or platforms. This is where you need to follow the technical guidelines mentioned above regarding the images or videos you will use.
  • Review and Publish.

When choosing a format, make sure it aligns with your goal. In other words, the layout of your ads is determined by your objectives. For example, if you want to get more video views, you should use video ads.

Best practices for Instagram Ads

Instagram ads take more than just throwing up a few pictures and calling it a day. By following some best practices, you can create ads that get results.

1. Design for mobile first

Because most Instagram users access the platform through mobile devices, it’s critical to design your ad with this in mind. 

Make sure your ad looks just as good on a small screen as on a larger one. This will help ensure that your ad reaches the widest possible audience.

2. Make branding and messaging prominent and upfront

People should be able to tell who your ad is for and what it is about as soon as they see it. That’s why making your branding and messaging stand out instantly is critical. 

Use high-quality visuals and clear, concise copy to capture attention quickly and communicate your message.

3. Design ads for sound-off consumption

This means that you must create understandable and engaging ads even when there is no sound or audio. Use text overlays and captions to ensure your message is heard loud and clear.

4. Use audio to enhance the visual ad

Audio can help captivate viewers and guide them through your ad while allowing them to enjoy the visuals. While most Instagram videos are watched without sound, this does not mean that audio is unimportant. As such, using audio can improve the visual details by creating a more immersive experience.

5. Design a variety of creative types and test them

Not all ads will perform equally well. Experiment with various creative types to see which ones produce the best results. Also, test various messaging and calls to action to see what works best for your target audience.

Where to start with Instagram ads

Overall, you can create your ad in Facebook Ads Manager and then promote it on Instagram. The cost of Instagram ads varies depending on the targeting you select and the level of competition for that specific audience. You should follow the best practices we mentioned when creating your ad for maximum impact.

Of course, this is just a starting point, and we always encourage you to experiment and analyze what works best for you. One excellent way to accomplish this is to use Reporting Ninja’s Facebook ads reporting and Instagram insights reporting services, which will help remove the guesswork from your marketing efforts.

Sign up for a free 15-day trial today.

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