When Instagram stories were introduced onto the Instagram scene, they brought with them an exciting new range of possibilities for businesses and advertisers to capitalize on. With over 400 million accounts and counting currently using Instagram Stories, this has easily become one of the ways businesses can quickly generate a high volume of views for their content.
But first, let’s get to know this feature a little bit better.
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What Is an Instagram Story Ad?
If you are a frequent user of Instagram, you’ll already be familiar with the Instagram Stories feature, which is available to every app user on the platform. Instagram Stories ads are also available in this section. This means that these ads appear at the top of your newsfeed, are shot in full-screen vertical video formats, and are optimized for mobile viewing.
Just like Instagram Stories. When one of your ad stories ends (either by itself or by swiping away), the next story automatically begins. When that Story ends, it creates a continuous stream of content that, if used correctly, can end up telling a very compelling story that keeps your audience coming back for more.
Now, for the regular user, these Story ads would appear in between the other stories in their newsfeed, sort of like dividers. You’ve probably experienced this yourself when you’re watching a story that a Friend A has uploaded, and before stories move on to what Friend B has uploaded, there’s a random ad which appears in between. That’s Instagram Story Ad. What’s captivating about the ad stories is that they look like your ordinary organic posts, with the only dead giveaway being the “sponsored” word that accompanies the ad.
One of the story ads most intriguing features is that it enables your brand to link within your posts and to access this link, the viewers would only need to swipe on your call to action button (usually “swipe up to shop” for example, which appears at the bottom of the video) and they’ll quickly be directed to your website’s landing page. Using this story ads feature could help you achieve the following advertising objectives:
- Help to increase brand awareness
- Boost your reach so that your video is viewed by as many people as possible
- Increase conversions by driving people to your website
- Encourage more viewers to install your app after watching your video content
- Allow your video content to reach even more viewers
- Drive sales through lead generation (for example through phone numbers and email addresses)
- Increase traffic to your website using the call to action button and link
Instagram story ads can be created quickly using your Ads Manager or via the Creative Hub function. They are still part of the overall Facebook ad system, except that they work slightly differently than the regular Instagram newsfeed ads that you see. For example, Story Ads can only be run on its own, and it cannot be run simultaneously with another ad set at the same time.
This is because there are no equivalent platforms since Story Ads tend to work on their own creative platform and require a different technical approach to it. The only similarities Story Ads has to the conventional Instagram Ads is the ability to choose a detailed budget, scheduling, bidding and even targeting system, but that is where their similarities end.
The Placement and the Technical Requirements
They may still be the new kid on the block when it comes to marketing tools but is clear from the beginning that Story Ads have the potential to be extremely engaging and profitable for businesses. Don’t be too alarmed by the fact that Story Ads have a whole set of technical and creative requirements of their own. Let’s break it down, one by one, so that it doesn’t seem all that daunting:
- For the best image quality, it is recommended that you keep your content at an image ratio of 9 x 16, and a size of 1080 x 1920 pixels.
- Video content should be kept at a maximum of 15 seconds and not a second longer, with a 4:5 vertical aspect ratio and a minimum width of approximately 600 pixels. The recommended file formats to use include either .mov, .mp4 or .gif. Your video file size should be kept at a maximum of 4GB.
Oh, and here is another similarity which Story Ads share with the conventional newsfeed ones, which is that your videos should contain only the bare minimum when it comes to texts. Even more so when it comes to images. Having too much text involved is going to penalize your ad distribution (this will happen when your texts are 20% or more of the image).
Instagram Stories have a whole different kind of aesthetic appeal, which is apparent if you compare them to the regular newsfeed ads side by side. When it comes to Instagram Story Ads, the content should be kept fun. Filters and stickers, for example, are acceptable with Story Ads, but the only catch is that you need to add these features in yourself using video editing tools (Photoshop is a good choice), and then upload the completed file to your Ads Manager platform.
How To Create Instagram Story Ads
You can either choose to start creating your Story Ad using either an existing ad campaign or even a new one if you prefer. Don’t forget to select a clear marketing objective beforehand. Once you’ve done then, you can begin by first naming your ad set (similar to what you could do when you create your Facebook Ad).
After that, you would work on refining your audience, selecting a budget and choosing your targeting options. See? That wasn’t so bad, was it? It’s actually pretty simple to create an engaging Story Ad once you’ve got the hang of the process, it’s just a matter of familiarizing yourself with the tools and features after a couple of practice sessions.
Now, the only snag here would again, be the fact that you can’t run these stories together with any other ad placements. In fact, you’ll probably need to make a couple of granular adjustments. For example, if you were thinking of running a single image ad campaign, you might have to upload the images separately to your Instagram Stories and your Facebook news feed. Facebook will let you know if this needs to be done.
Every advertiser wants to get the most out of the time, money and effort which they invested in their ads. They want to see returns; they want to know it’s working. How do you get the most out of your stories? By utilizing the following best practice strategies and tips:
1. Do Something Demanding
You need to command your viewer’s attention. The minute they choose to swipe away from your story, that’s it. It’s over and gone. To combat this, what you need is to have a story that grabs the attention of the viewers and make it so interesting and riveting that they watch the entire 15 seconds and even like it enough to respond to your call to action.
2. Video Power
Videos are a lot more powerful than a single image, especially when it comes to stories. The key word here being stories. A story isn’t still, a story is alive, moving, exciting.
3. Don’t Forget Your Logo
You only have a short time to make a significant impression on your viewer. You need to remind them of who you are, and your logo is the best way to do it. Place your logo clearly and definitively in your story, so your viewers will be hard pressed to miss it.
4. Own Your Ads
The first few seconds is all you get, so make it work! Time is of the essence, and every single second is precious. Use it wisely, use it well. Create a story which has volume, tells your viewer what your business is about, be powerful, be impactful, and believe in the power of what you’re trying to sell.
5. Keep It Short
Viewers don’t have time to read through a long essay because your story is only going to last 15 seconds before it moves on. Think about what your story message is going to be and keep it short, concise and to the point. Every word should carry meaning, make it punchy and easy to read.
6. Stay True to Your Brand
Instagram Story Ads are still an extension and a part of your business. While it does involve its own creative approach, it is still important to remember that your stories should stay true to what your brand represents and be consistent with the rest of your brand’s aesthetics. Staying true to your style makes it easier for your audience to be able to immediately identify you, increasing brand awareness while you’re at it.
7. A Strong Call to Action
Nothing pumps up the adrenaline quite like a limited time offer. Or a special, one-time deal that’s not to be missed. Creating that sense of urgency with a strong call to action encourages your audience to swipe up for more information or head directly to your website, which hopefully translates into a sale for your business.
8. Get Some Music in There
According to Instagram themselves, 60% of the Story Ads which were viewed by audiences were viewed with their sound on. So, put some music in there and pump up the beats, because it makes for a much more engaging story with even more power to draw your audience in.
Are Instagram Story Ads the Way of the Future?
It certainly seems like it, especially with the introduction of Instagram TV into the mix. Story Ads are on the rise, with more audiences interacting and engaging in a way that is a lot more meaningful with the brand.
Viewers are looking to engage with the brands that they are keen on in a way that is convenient, effortless and easy, while at the same time still be engrossing enough to keep them hooked.
Instagram Story Ads do just that. It doesn’t take up too much of their time, it’s fast-moving, easy to interact with and requires little to no effort to get the results that they want. The vertical format makes it ideal for mobile viewing on the go, which is how most of the viewership is taking place these days anyway.
There is already a trend which indicates that viewers are transitioning from news feed ads and unto story ads because of its more vibrant and engaging nature. It is almost impossible to go a day without seeing at least two to three ads pop up in our stories feed, and this trend is only going to increase in the future. For marketers, this is the time to start tapping into the full potential of Instagram Story Ads.