People are becoming increasingly fascinated with Instagram Stories as a more authentic and less filtered alternative to regular Instagram posts. As of January 2019, 500 million people were using it on a daily basis–a 250% increase since 2017.

And ever since the introduction of Instagram Story ads and full-screen Canvas ads in 2017, the platform has also seen a lot more advertisers promoting their products through Instagram Stories. This means that there is more competition for businesses that wish to advertise on the platform.

As an advertiser, you’d want to make sure that your Instagram Stories ads have the desired impact. Instead of just using any catalog image of your products in your ad campaign, consider all the Instagram Stories best practices that will help you create impactful ads that convert.

That’s exactly what you’ll learn to do in this post. In addition to learning the basics of creating Instagram Story ads, you will also discover some of the most effective tactics to get swipes and conversions.

Getting started with Instagram Story ads

Before you can start creating ads that convert better, it’s important to understand the basic rules of creating Instagram Stories ads first. Let’s take a look at the basic steps to create ads for Instagram Stories:

1. Decide on your objective

What do you want to accomplish through your ad campaign? You can choose from several objectives for Stories ads including reach, brand awareness, traffic, engagement, app installs, video views, lead generation and conversions.

objective options for Instagram Stories ads

2. Develop your ad creative

The next step is to create ad content that will fulfill your objective. This could either be images or videos along with other creative elements like an ad headline and copy. To help you with this, read on to learn some tips for creating Stories that get attention.

3. Use the recommended dimensions

You can’t use the same ad dimensions across all platforms. Instagram has recommended ad sizes that will ensure optimum visibility for your feed ads and your Stories ads.

For image ads:

  • The recommended resolution is 1080 X 1920 pixels
  • Maintain a resolution of at least 600 X 1067 pixels
  • Maintain an aspect ratio of 9:16
  • Use either JPG or PNG format
  • Maximum size allowed is 30MB

For video ads:

  • The recommended resolution is 1080 X 1920 pixels
  • Maintain an aspect ratio of 9:16
  • Use either MP4 or MOV format
  • Maximum size allowed is 4GB
  • It should have a resolution of at least 720p

4. Set your target audience

Next, you need to narrow down on the audience you wish to target for your Instagram Story ads. You’ll have the option to target people based on location, gender, language, interests, behaviors and age. You can also narrow down your targeting based on how people are connected with your brand i.e. include/exclude everyone who already like your page, target friends of your followers and other options.

Since Stories ads display for a shorter amount of time, make sure you get really specific with your audience targeting. So make the most of Facebook Pixels, lookalike audiences and retargeting options.

audience targeting options for Instagram Stories ads

5. Select your ad placement

The next step is to choose your ad placement. While Facebook provides an automatic placement option, it’s better to manually choose your preferred placements. Your audience on Facebook may be drastically different from your Instagram audience. So it may not be wise to display the same ads and offerings to them.

ad placement options for Facebook and Instagram advertising

6. Develop a compelling call to action

Just like your ads on other platforms, your Instagram Stories ads should also have a clear and compelling call to action that motivates the audience to take the desired action. Use action words like learn, see, shop, buy, discover, get, etc. You could even test out different CTAs to find out what works best with your audience.

instagram management learn more banner

Best practices for Instagram Story ads

Once you’ve nailed down the basics, you can refer to the following Instagram Stories best practices to create engaging ads that convert better:

1. Make the first few seconds count

The first few seconds of your Instagram Story ad is crucial for capturing and maintaining your audience’s attention. A study by RivalHQ found that brands are losing about 20% of their audience by the second frame of their Stories. This means that it’s important that your Story ads stand out even more than organic Stories posts and captivate your audience instantly.

Users are less likely to skip Story ads that are visually appealing right from the start. Experiment with colors, fonts and imagery that would appeal to your target audience.

NUXE France created a short stop-motion video highlighting their products. It used a soft background color to match their product packaging, which created an eye-catching effect. This resulted in a 6.2X return on their ad spend.

NUXE France Instagram Stories ads displaying brand products

2. Create clear and concise messaging

With Instagram Stories ads, you don’t have much space for text elements because your visual content takes up most of the screen space, and your audience has limited reading time.. So if you’re going to use text in your ads, make sure you come up with a brief message that’s punchy and gets straight to the point. You could even use carousel ads and video ads if you want to tell a longer story.

Overstock launched a video ad that asked the audience a short question about a common brand perception, and compelled them to “think again.” What followed was a series of product photos with two-word messages relaying their value proposition.

Overstock Instagram Stories ad

3. Maintain brand visibility

The whole point of creating Instagram Story 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.

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 colors, fonts and design elements so that your brand name stands out.

Take a look at how the following ad from Waterdrop focuses on the product. It clearly displays the brand name on the product and also includes the product name at the bottom of the image.

Waterdrop Instagram Stories ad displaying water bottle

4. Position your text strategically

As mentioned earlier, you have very limited space to add text elements in your 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.

Batch Organics launched a video ad, which first highlighted the brand’s products at the beginning.

Batch Organics Instagram Stories ad display smoothie pictures

It then added text overlays over these images to highlight the brand’s messaging using a highly legible font.

Batch Organics Instagram Stories ad with text overlay

The ad then ended with an offer at the bottom of the screen just above the “Shop Now” link.

Batch Organics Instagram Stories ad with CTA

5. Feature influencers in your ads

Combining your influencer marketing strategy with your advertising campaign can be a great way to amplify your efforts. If you’ve already launched a campaign with influencers, perhaps you could use the sponsored content they created for you in your ad creative. That way, you’ll be saving a lot of time and resources in developing ad content.

You could also create an entirely new set of ad creative that feature influencers. Perhaps you could even involve them in your brainstorming session. Influencers know their own audience deeply so they might have great ideas on how to tell a compelling story through your Instagram Story ads.

Toni Mahfud, the German-born artist and influencer was at the center of the JOOP! advertising campaign on Instagram Stories. The brand showcased a video featuring the influencer. It offered the audience with an opportunity to win a t-shirt designed and signed by him. This campaign increased ad recall by 60% and lowered cost per reach by 27%.

JOOP Instagram Stories ad featuring Toni Mahfud

Do more with Instagram Stories

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

Need tips to bring your organic Stories up to the level of your paid ads? Check out these guides: