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Instagram Stories Ads are a powerful marketing tool, providing access to over 500 million users daily. One-third of the most viewed Stories come from businesses and 60% of users discover new products through the platform. With numbers like that, it might be tempting to throw up a random Stories Ad and wait for the clicks to come flying in. But, converting ad views into sales can be a challenge for brands, especially given all the ad content already on the app.

Never fear! We’ve compiled a guide on 10 best practices for creating engaging Instagram Stories Ads so your brand stands out from the crowd.

Before you get started, it’s important to keep in mind that your ads will likely result in more views of your Business Instagram profile.

Even if your main call to action doesn’t drive people to your profile, viewers are likely to tap through to learn more about your business. So it’s important to make sure that your feed is filled with an array of content that shows what you’re about and what your personality is.



What are Instagram Stories ads?

Instagram Stories Ads live within Instagram Stories and appear like a commercial break between your friends’ and family’s video content. The only difference is that a brand has paid to place them there. Stories ads are full-screen and vertical, just like Instagram Stories, and sit on top of your Instagram News Feed. Like Instagram Stories, they can be still images or 15-second videos.

Instagram has seven objectives for Instagram Stories Ads, which you can select when you build your ad:

  • Reach: Show your ad to as many people as possible
  • Video Views: Encourage as many people to view your video as possible
  • Traffic: Send the most amount of traffic to your website or page
  • Conversions: Drive conversion metrics like email signups or sales
  • Mobile App Installs: Get users to download and install your app
  • Lead generation: Open up a lead gen form that automatically fills out the users’ information

When you create an Instagram Stories Ad, you’ll need to select from one of the seven marketing objectives to shape the tone and style of the ad.



Why Instagram Stories ads?

Instagram Stories Ads look like regular Instagram Stories, blending in organically as users tap from video to video. This makes Instagram users generally more open to advertising compared to other platforms, especially if the ad is engaging and well-crafted.

Another benefit to Stories ads is the high number of users who could potentially engage with your brand. How does an advertising reach of 849.3 million daily users sound? Probably like a solid return on investment (because it is).

PS: That’s 14% of adults aged 13 and over. And Instagram’s ad reach is growing fast, with a 5.9% increase quarter-on-quarter as of late 2019.

And sure, you could post regular organic Instagram Stories from your brand’s business account any time (and you should have a strategy for that channel, too). But, Stories ads are particularly effective at helping you reach new people who don’t already follow you.



1) Start Experimenting With Instagram Stories Video Ads

Did you know that videos hold our attention 5x longer than still images?

There’s no denying that our attention spans are getting shorter and shorter, especially when we’re thumbing through social media. Using a video ad gives you more time to get your pitch across, fifteen seconds to be exact, versus the five seconds of an image. Those fifteen seconds are your chance to present your product, with visuals that make users laugh, or at least go, “what am I watching?”



2) Keep Your Message Clear & Concise

Although there aren’t any text restrictions for Instagram Stories Ads like Facebook Ads, we should still keep our message short and straight to the point to retain the attention of our audience. 

In an Instagram Stories Ad, a ‘sponsored’ label appears in the top, right corner of your post and reveals that your post is an ad and not part of your day-to-day Instagram Stories. Which means that once your viewers realize it’s an ad, they are even more likely to tap or swipe away from your story.

If a user clicks away from your Story Ad, that’s it– it’s gone. Because of this, it’s essential to use content that grabs users’ attention immediately and is incredibly memorable. Some brands users humour for this, others use textual cues to clue customers in, and some use images that just make you stop and think. The example from Purple below shows all three.



3) Don’t Forget To Include Your Brand Visibility

The whole point of creating Instagram Stories Ads is to introduce more people to your brand and its products. So it won’t make sense if people see your ad but don’t know which brand it’s from. Make sure your brand logo is prominently visible. This means ensuring that no other design elements are obstructing or distracting from the brand logo at the top left-hand corner of the screen.

Without a logo, the only place where a viewer will see your brand name is in the top, right corner where your Instagram handle will be shown. If you’re not showing off your brand in your Instagram Stories Ad, you’re running the risk of losing money and having viewers swipe past without noticing who posted the ad!

In addition to this, there are a few options to highlight your brand name and ensure better brand visibility in your Instagram Stories Ads:

  • Overlay your brand name or logo without obstructing other elements
  • Focus on your product, especially if it has your brand name and/or logo on it
  • Opt for minimal colours, fonts and design elements so that your brand name stands out



4) Stay True To Your Brand’s Instagram Aesthetic

Making sure that your Instagram Stories Ads fit seamlessly in with your overall Instagram aesthetic (especially your Instagram Stories style) if you want to keep people engaged and increase brand recognition.

Think about your imagery and typography; it should always reflect your brand aesthetics. The easiest way to do this is by using the colours, typeface, and images that are in tune with your brand. Or if you’re using Instagram Stories templates, continue to use them for your ads.



5) Polished Instagram Stories Ads Aren’t Always The Best Ads

You don’t need to pour blood, sweat, and budget into your Instagram Stories Ads to make them successful! In fact, the new trend with Instagram Stories Ads is to have them feel more authentic, real and ‘home-cut’.

“Instagram users are wise to sponsored posts”, says Later’s Head of Marketing, Taylor Loren.

“People are used to watching casual Instagram Stories content from their friends. If they see a highly produced video pop up in their stories, it can come across like a commercial, and they will naturally swipe away.”

You might have spotted influencers creating Instagram Stories Ads that are selfies or videos where they just talk right into the camera. This makes the ads more informal and less sales-driven, resulting in a post that is personable and more likely to keep an audience engaged.



6) Create A Strong Call-to-Action (CTA)

Nothing encourages an impulse purchase more than a limited-time deal or an exclusive offer!

Creating a sense of urgency or FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) within your Instagram Stories Ads is one simple way you can encourage viewers to swipe up and visit your website and hopefully make a purchase! 



7) Be Strategic With Your Text Positioning

As mentioned earlier, you have very limited space to add text elements in your ads and Instagram users are wary of sponsored posts and Instagram Stories Ads.

While keeping your messages short solves half of this problem, your text positioning is equally important. You can’t just throw your text around anywhere on the screen and hope for the best. You have to make sure it’s prominently visible without obstructing other elements.

It’s best to add your text over white space so people don’t miss it. While this isn’t always possible, make sure you choose highly legible fonts even if you’re placing your text over other visual elements.

You can add it in the middle of the screen or towards your “Swipe Up” link if you want to draw people away from the “Sponsored” tag at the top. If you only have white space at the top of the screen, make sure your text isn’t too close to the “Sponsored” tag

Remember! Every second counts when it comes to engagement, so if you can catch a viewer’s eye immediately with your message (and not the sponsored tag!), it could make a huge difference to your link open rates in your ads.



8) Use The Carousel Instagram Stories Ad Format for Longer Messages

Sometimes everything you need to say can’t fit into one 15-second video or still photo and that’s exactly why Instagram created the carousel format for Instagram Stories Ads.

Instagram carousel ads, which can be made up of three images or three 15-second videos, let you tell a more “sequenced” story over several parts. However, just like organic Instagram Stories posts, users can tap through, swipe back and forth, or pause the content whenever they like, so it’s still important to be creative and engaging from the get-go!



9) Add Music to Your Instagram Stories Ads

Instagram recently revealed that 60% of Instagram Stories Ads were viewed with the sound on!

Having audio, whether it’s a voice-over or music can make your Instagram Stories Ad more engaging and draw your audience in.



10) Always Track Your Ads

Once your Instagram Stories Ad goes live, don’t just let it sit on the platform in social media limbo. Tap into tools like Instagram Stories Analytics to track how well your ad performs, looking closely at any increases in sales, unique hits, and overall traffic numbers.




These best practices can help you get started with successful Instagram Stories Ads that convert. But that doesn’t mean you should stop there. Keep testing and trying out different ad formats, messaging, visuals, targeting options, etc. to see what works best for your brand.

Here are some of our courses related to Instagram advertising to guide you:

Instagram Marketing & Advertising

Generate Leads and Traffic Using Instagram Stories Ads




9 Tips for Creating Instagram Stories Ads That Convert

Instagram Story ads: Rules and best practices for impressive results

6 Tips for Creating Highly Effective Instagram Stories Ads

The Ultimate Guide to Instagram Story Ads