Instagram Ad Creative Best Practices

Instagram Ad Creative Best Practices

Instagram is currently in its golden age – current data places its monthly active users at over 1 billion globally. As the platform has matured, so have the advertising tools and best practices for creative advertising on Instagram.

On the business end, 90 per cent of Instagram users admit to following one or more business accounts, and 55 per cent of users admit to making a purchase based on an Instagram post. In conclusion, Instagram has become a force in the world of social media marketing, the platform is primarily visual making it perfect for experiment and showcase creative ad media.

The first step is deciding which of the various formats work best for your brand. Read on to learn more about each ad format and a few best practices for successfully implementing them.

Story Ad


Instagram Story Ads are particularly effective because Stories are very popular. Data suggests that on average, 500 million people use IG Stories daily and 58% of users report being more interested in a product or brand after seeing a Story. It’s easy to understand why, as the shorter video format of Stories greatly increases its effectiveness among consumers seeking short and concise ads with an immediate call to action. A few best practices to make your Instagram Story Ad effective are:

  1. Be as visually compelling while not overwhelming the user. In other words, think bold and interesting colours and design but keep it clean and easy to read.
  2. Have a clear product focus and offering.
  3. Add music or audio features – with a clear audio hook to catch attention in the first 1-2 seconds
  4. Have an identifiable call to action – in most cases this will be the button element at the base of the image.
See these examples from Allbirds which have a clear product focus without being overwhelming.

AllBirds Instagram Ad Creative Best Practices

Carousel Ad


Carousel Instagram Ads allow marketers to show variety and provide multiple offers to the consumer. It provides the opportunity for marketers to be more creative and tell a longer narrative. A few best practices for getting a Carousel Instagram right include:

    1. Include as many images as possible and ensure they are all of the highest quality
    2. Provide a cohesive narrative of the brand story through the images
    3. Include a strong and clear call to action


Slideshow Ad


Slideshows are similar to Carousel Instagram Ads in that it too offers the user multiple options to swipe through. However, Slideshow Ads, unlike Carousel Ads, scroll on their own and as a result, require more time and effort to not just create but successfully implement.

They are most effective for products and services where high-quality photography and/or cinematography is particularly important. For example:

    1. Clothing & Apparel
    2. Travel and Tourism Industry
    3. Entertainment Industry


Single Image Ad


As the name suggests, Single Image Ads are ads with a single image and are naturally significantly easier to create versus Carousel and Slideshow Ads. Single Image Ads merely require picking the right image and including a compelling caption, with a call to action. Other best practices to keep in mind for Single Image Ads include:

  1. Continuously experiment with various images to better identify which is most successful at appealing to the audience.
  2. While Instagram allows captions of up to and past 1,000 characters, Facebook suggests keeping it at 125, as this is the point where your message will be truncated.
  3. Include a clear call to action with a proper URL link – for example if the ad features a specific product, ensure that product is linked not the site homepage

See this example from Ooni which keeps the caption brief with a specific product name and link beside the call to action.


Ooni Example Instagram Ad Creative Best Practices

Testing, Testing and More Testing


In the early phase of any Instagram ad campaign that is focused on driving conversions, testing a wide range of creative assets is crucial to an effective approach. Small to medium retailers should aim to have a minimum of 20-40 variations of copy, media and taglines in their ad sets.

After running for a set period of weeks/months, from the ad data analytics, a very clear picture will start to be painted of what types of ad creative resonates with the target audience. This picture can be used to discontinue the ads that don’t work and double down on the ones that do – as well as refine the creative ad process going forward with new campaigns.

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