6 Types of Instagram Ads [With Examples]

Mackenzie | June 02, 2020 | Social Media Marketing

Though Facebook still takes the cake for the most popular social media advertising platform, Instagram is steadily gaining its own foothold as a successful, lead-converting option.

Social media advertising is an essential component of any outbound marketing or growth strategy, and many companies are starting to find that when done right, Instagram can produce more of the right results than even Facebook ads. 


In the past, Instagram has gotten the snub because it's so segmented. Many brands find it difficult to generate an organic following on Instagram, but since Instagram was acquired by Facebook, its advertising capabilities have been unleashed. 


It's a well-known fact that Instagram gets much more engagement than Facebook. (Check out this blog about Instagram's epic engagement if that's news to you.) Combine that with Instagram's exceptional user experience, and the platform has become quite attractive for digital marketing agencies: there's plenty of opportunity, Instagram users are highly engaged, and there's also the simple fact that Instagram ads just look better. 


Two Key Benefits of Instagram Advertising


  • Instagram ads are seamlessly integrated into the platform. It's very difficult to tell immediately which posts on a feed are ads and which are organic posts. This helps boost ad interaction on the platform.
  • The majority of Instagram ads open up links that remain in-app. So, users are clicking over to the advertiser's site, but they remain in the app. When they're done interacting with the advertiser's site, they can easily click out of it, and Instagram will take them back to their feed, without losing their place.


Because Instagram ads offer very little disruption to the user, they have the potential to do very well. And, as more and more advertisers and marketers lean into the platform, we're learning so much about how people prefer to interact, and how we can deliver the right message, at the right time. Case in point — MobileMonkey's super cool take on Instagram DM Drip campaigns! Automate your Insta DMs just like you do chatbots.

So now that we're clear on why Instagram advertising is important, let's take a look at the different types of Instagram ads:


Types of Instagram Ads


Instagram ads are set up similarly to Facebook ads, primarily because Facebook owns Instagram. That means you can benefit from the same microtargeting qualities of Facebook, while also benefiting from Instagram's increased engagement and seamless native ads. 


Let's take a look at the major types of ads on Instagram, and how to make them work for you:


  1. Instagram Photo Ads
  2. Instagram Video Ads
  3. Instagram Collection and Shopping Ads
  4. Instagram Explore Ads
  5. Instagram Carousel Ads
  6. Instagram Story Ads
  7. Is My Product Right for Instagram?
  8. Optimizing Instagram Ads to Work for You
  9. Instagram Ads and Strategic Growth


01. Instagram Photo Ads


Instagram is a visual platform. The entire concept of the social media site is to share imagery, so if you want to advertise effectively, you need to have quality creative. Photo ads are the most basic way to do this. 

Stasherbag Instagram Photo Ad

Like the title suggests, photo ads are comprised of a photo, along with a description, and a call to action button.

You can also optimize Instagram photo ads to include a "view profile" button, that will take viewers to your Instagram profile if they want to see what else you've posted lately, or if they want to click a link in your bio. 


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02. Instagram Video Ads


Video is the social media content of the future. It only increases in popularity, especially on Instagram, a platform that was designed with visuals in mind. Take your Instagram ads an extra step forward by using video. 


Video does a better job of engaging your audience, catching their eye with Insta's autoplay feature, and clueing them into your brand at just a glance. 


Instagram video ads have the same capabilities as photo ads but can do a better job of capturing attention if you have the creative capabilities to produce them. 

Public Goods Instagram Video Ad

This ad from Public Goods is cool as it uses video to cleverly swap out the products that are shown on the ad.

Each new product featured is another opportunity to catch a viewer's attention and convince them to convert. 


While this might not sound earthshaking, a video ad does the talking for you. It's a great way to pack a big punch in a very short amount of time. 


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03. Instagram Collection and Shopping Ads


If you ask me, these ads are the greatest thing since sliced bread. 


Though they're particularly useful for quick-decision e-commerce companies, like we'll see in this example, I can see them being just as effective for those in industrial and commercial industries with specific parts to sell. 

Collection ads look like this one from Aerie. At first glance, this looks like a traditional Instagram photo post.


You can see the little shopping back in the bottom left corner, however, which indicates that this is a collection ad.

Aerie Instagram Ad Collection 1

When you click on the shopping bag, the ad takes you directly to the products featured in the post.

You can click and check out right from here, all within the Instagram app.  

Instagram Collection Ad 2 Aerie

These are pretty powerful ads, and like I said, I could see them working well outside of traditional e-commerce industries. Let's say you sell aftermarket Corvette parts. An ad with a picture of a recently restored Corvette could easily feature a collection of the parts used in the restoration, showing people exactly what they need to complete a similar renovation. 


Pretty cool, hey?


Shopping ads function pretty similarly to collection ads. When you tap on the image in a shopping ad, a link pops up taking you to the page where you can buy that item. It's just another great way to offer viewers a seamless experience by removing any barriers between the time they decide they want to purchase something and the actual action of making the purchase. 


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04. Instagram Explore Ads


Instagram Explore ads work just like any other Instagram ad, but they show up in the Explore section of the platform. You'll have to indicate in Ads Manager that you want your ads to show up here, but it's a good option if you're great at identifying your target audience or if you're looking for ways to increase your brand awareness. 

Instagram Collection Ad Explore

These ads won't show up in the Explore grid that pops up, but instead, show up after a user has clicked on a post they find interesting. As they scroll down for more similar content, your ad will pop up.

This ad for a ceramics business is a great example of an Explore Ad that's also a collection. 


If you were interested in ceramics, you might see this ad as you were exploring for new posts or accounts to follow.

The collection aspect of the ad enables you to make an immediate purchase if this is something you really want. 


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05. Instagram Carousel Ads


Remember when Instagram introduced multi-image posts and everyone freaked out?




Yeah, us too. 


Well now, Instagram lets advertisers leverage those multi-image posts as carousel ads. 


Everyone does them a little differently, but the positive is that you get to show off more sides of your product, service, or brand in just one ad. This is a great way to boost awareness for your brand, or show off the versatility of your product. 


Check out this carousel Instagram Ad from Blue Apron:


They used each image in their carousel ad to show off a different plan option — showcasing their diverse offerings perfect for any food preference or family size. They topped it off with the final image encouraging viewers to get six meals free, which paired with their caption "Get $60 off!" smartly. 


This is a great example of using Instagram carousel ads to show off multiple sides of your product or service. It's also good to know that you can now use video on carousel ads for an even greater impact. 


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06. Instagram Story Ads


The last two types of ads aren't found on the typical Instagram feed. Instead, they show up in users' Stories. 300 million Instagram users view Instagram Stories every day, which means there are plenty of people who will see your Story Ad. Instagram Story Ads can be done in two ways:


Traditional Story Ads


Plain ole Instagram Stories ads look and feel like a normal story.

Check out this one from Hungryroot for an example.

HungryRoot Instagram Story Ad

Story ads are a full-screen sized image or video of your choosing, with a swipe up call-to-action that can take users to your profile, your website, or anywhere else you'd like them to go.


Canvas Story Ads - AKA Instant Experiences


If a story image or video doesn't seem like quite enough of a punch, you can upgrade to Instant Experience story ads. Previously known as Canvas ads, these ads are known for their exceptional ability to immerse the viewer in the ad. 


You can use the Facebook Instant Experiences ad developing tool and templates to design an ad that's totally immersive — either an image or a video — and the ad will be deployed through Instagram Stories. Instant Experiences Ads offer an expanded range of ad design options, as you can see in this example from Hint. 

Instagram Instant Experience Ad 1

Hint does a great job of telling their story with an immersive video that shows a woman ordering their water, and then having it immediately delivered to her home.

Instant Experience Ads' expanded functions allow them to include cute text tags that call out specific benefits, as well as the swipe-up option that takes the visitor directly to their website. 

Instagram Instant Experience Ad2

You can also use Instant Experience ads for your Facebook account, or in Instagram feed placement, but many marketers have seen the best results in Instagram stories. 


To create a truly effective ad, your digital marketing agency will develop immersive content that is customized to fit Instagram, and optimized for a seamless, quick-loading experience that's sure to drive traffic and conversions.


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Is My Product Right for Instagram?


It's true that all products might not be perfect for Instagram. That said — if any aspect of your company or product is visually appealing, and if your ideal buyer skews below the age of 45-50, you're likely to do well on Instagram. 


If you're struggling to understand what your target market might be on Instagram, or how you can frame your product or service for the youthful platform, you might consider talking to a digital marketing agency. 


Digital marketing agencies live to identify target audiences across platforms and will be able to help you determine if Instagram is right for your marketing strategy. 


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Optimizing Instagram Ads to Work For You


While there are certainly products that aren't well suited to Instagram, if you think your brand will do well on Instagram, incorporate the following best practices to see quality engagement: 


Make It Visual


We've said it before, but quality visuals are kind of Instagram's schtick. 


If your ad is going to do well on the platform, it has to look good. And really, it's not as hard as you think. Most images just need to be clear and incorporate a lot of natural light. 


Engage Your Viewer's Attention


This is where video typically comes in. 


If you have images that are intriguing or invite followers to engage with them, that's great. If not, video is usually your best bet. It's engaging without trying to be. 


When most social media audiences see a video, they'll at least stop to watch the first few seconds. And if your company name is in the first few seconds, you're golden. 


Your Message Must Be Authentic


Above all, Instagram ads have to be authentic. The platform is dominated by millennials and younger generations who are proven to respond most positively to brands with purpose and authenticity. 


Any quality digital marketing agency knows that advertisements do a lot more than just show off your product — they make a statement about your brand, and can make or break new relationships with potential clients. 


If you're looking for long-term success, your Instagram ads need to make a great impression, and they have to be authentic to your brand.


That's one of the absolute best ways to make certain that your ads will do well. 


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Instagram Ads and Strategic Growth


After deploying a few different types of Instagram ads —  image, video, and story ads — you will be able to identify which are working best for your target audience. From there, you can optimize and improve future Instagram campaigns to generate more leads, create greater awareness for your brand in target demographics, and ultimately help contribute to overall company growth. 


Continuous improvement is the key to getting the most out of your Instagram ad campaigns. As you optimize and refine over time, you're likely to start seeing better results and more engagement. 


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Instagram advertising is a lot. There are a ton of types of Instagram ads, and even deciding which is best for your brand can take some work. If you're new to social media advertising, we're here to help.

The Evenbound team can answer any questions, and help get you going in the right direction with your next social media advertising campaign. Just let us know what you need.

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