It’s not too hard to create successful Instagram ads, as users are already primed to shop on the platform.

If you have a budget allocated for paid social, you should strongly consider running Instagram ads. Why?

27% of users say they find new products and brands through paid social ads, and Instagram ads can reach over 1.2 billion people, or 20% of the world’s population over age 13.

In this article, we’ll give you a comprehensive overview about how to advertise on Instagram, including an easy 5-step guide to create your first ad in just a few taps.


What are Instagram ads?

Instagram ads are posts for which businesses can pay to serve to Instagram users.

Similar to Facebook, Instagram ads appear throughout the app, including in users’ feeds, Stories, Explore, and more. They look similar to normal posts but always contain a “sponsored” label to indicate that they are an ad. They also often have more features than a normal post, such as links, CTA buttons, and product catalogs.

How much do Instagram ads cost?

The cost of Instagram ads is highly dependent on a variety of factors – there is no average or benchmark price. Some cost factors include:

  • Your targeting
  • Competitiveness of your industry
  • Time of year (costs often go up during holiday shopping periods in Q4 such as Black Friday)
  • Placement (costs can differ between ads shown on Facebook vs Instagram)

The best way to evaluate your budget is to set up a draft campaign in Ads Manager and look for the Audience Definition and Estimated Daily Results modules, which will tell you if your budget settings will be sufficient to reach your desired audience within your desired duration.

Note that there is no “best practice” for how much to spend. You can get started by spending just a few dollars a day, and scale up from there based on success.

In order to control the costs of your Instagram ads, you can set either daily budgets or lifetime spending limits. We’ll explain this in more detail in our 5-step guide below.

Types of Instagram ads

There are many different types of advertising formats on Instagram, including:

  • Image ads
  • Stories ads
  • Video ads
  • Carousel ads
  • Collection ads
  • Explore ads
  • IGTV ads
  • Shopping ads
  • Reels ads

The wide range means that you can choose the best ad type that matches your specific business goal. Each ad format has its own selection of call-to-action options, which are listed below.

Image ads

Image ads allow businesses to use single images to advertise their brand, products and services.

Image ads are best suited for campaigns with compelling visual content that can be conveyed in a single image. These images can be created from high-quality photography or design and illustration.

It’s also possible to add text to images. However, Instagram recommends limiting overlaid text as much as possible for best results.
Instagram Stories Ads are full-screen image or video ads that appear between users’ Stories.

Instagram Stories are a well-used part of the app, with over 500 million Instagram users viewing Stories every day. Engagement is often higher with Stories ads, as the format covers the whole mobile screen and feels much more immersive than in-feed ads.

The best Instagram Stories ads are ones that look and feel like normal Stories and don’t stand out as ads. When designing Stories ads, businesses can use all organic Instagram Stories features like filters, text, GIFs, and interactive stickers.

Stories ads can use still photos, videos, and carousels. The call-to-action is presented as a swipe-up link at the bottom of the Story.

Video ads

Similar to image ads, video ads on Instagram allow businesses to give users a closer look at their brand, products, and services.

In-feed video ads can be up to 60 minutes long, but shorter videos are usually more effective. Read more best practices for designing Instagram video ads.

Carousel ads

Carousel ads feature a series of images or videos that users can swipe through. They can appear both in-feed and within Instagram Stories, with a call-to-action button or swipe up link that lead users directly to your website.

You can use carousel ads to:

  • Showcase a collection of related products
  • Tell a multi-part story
  • Share up to 10 images or videos


Collection ads

Collection ads are a combination between carousel ads and shopping ads. Collection ads showcase products directly from your product catalog.

Collection ads are best suited for ecommerce brands, as they allow users to purchase products directly from the ad. When a user clicks on the ad, they’re directed to an Instagram Instant Experience Storefront where they can learn more about the product and proceed to purchase.

Explore ads

Explore ads appear within the Explore tab, an area of the platform where users discover new content and accounts that are tailored based on their Instagram usage habits. More than 50% of Instagram users access Explore every month, so it’s a great place to gain exposure.

Instagram Explore ads do not appear in the Explore grid or the topic channels, but rather are shown after someone clicks on a photo or video from Explore. As the content in users’ Explore tabs is constantly changing, Explore ads allow businesses to be shown alongside culturally relevant and trending content.

Explore ads can be both images and videos.

Pro Tip: No need to design brand new assets for Explore ads. You can simply re-use existing assets.


IGTV ads

IGTV ads are video ads that play after a user clicks to watch an IGTV video from their feed. Videos can be up to 15 seconds long, and should be designed for vertical full screen viewing (more IGTV ad specs).

They are shown midroll (in the middle of the video), potentially with the option to skip.

IGTV ads are currently available to users with Instagram Creator accounts in the US, UK, and Australia, with more countries rolling out soon. Creators can opt in to having ads shown in their IGTV videos, and receive 55% of the advertising revenue generated from each view.


Shopping ads

With 130 million users tapping on shopping posts every month, it’s no wonder Instagram has been heavily improving its ecommerce features over the last 1-2 years. With Instagram’s newest Shopping features, users can now view and purchase products without ever leaving the app (limited to businesses with Instagram Checkout enabled).

Instagram Shopping ads take users directly to a product description page within the Instagram app. They can then purchase through your mobile website.

In order to run Shopping ads, you need to set up your Instagram Shopping catalog.

Pro Tip: Take advantage of Hootsuite’s integration with Shopify to access your catalog right from your Hootsuite dashboard.


Reels ads

With the successful launch of Reels, Instagram recently announced the ability to advertise within Reels.

Ads are shown in between Reels, with similar specs to Stories ads (full screen vertical videos), and can be up to 30 seconds. They should include sound or music to be well-integrated with organic Reels.