A Brief Guide to Advertising with Instagram Stories

December 12, 2017

Instagram Stories has quickly become one of the more exciting products in the Facebook marketing suite. Facebook claims that 300 million people around the globe watch and create Instagram stories every day. By comparison, this tops Snapchat’s reach of 178 million daily global users.

Advertising on Instagram Stories has allowed marketers to place powerful short video or image ads to inspire users when they’re most engaged. Read more about why you should try this powerful feature and what you need to succeed.

The Audience

Instagram attracts a highly engaged global audience looking for inspiration. Unlike on Facebook, where users come to connect with family and friends and see what the newest trending cat video is, the visual nature of Instagram lends itself well to influencer content. People come to Instagram looking to be inspired and discover the things they care about. This includes content from brands and businesses—1/3 of the most viewed stories are from businesses.

While Snapchat is the most popular platform for people aged 12-24, Instagram attracts a broader demographic—more users across more life stages. 59% of Internet users aged 18-29 are on Instagram. With Instagram Stories businesses can reach engaged users at scale.

The Experience

The Stories format has taken the world by storm. Snapchat piloted it and after its initial success, we started seeing stories everywhere—WhatsApp, Messenger, Facebook, and of course Instagram.


There are a few reasons the format is so successful, all boiling down to the experience it offers. As people’s attention spans are shrinking due to content overload, stories offer more information in a visual format, faster. It’s the format of the future. Which is why brands should get on it.

Advertising on Instagram Stories allows brands to reach users when they’re engaged. Stories are designed for mobile viewing with a visual vertical image or video format. Unlike the Facebook feed, which is often silent, users view 60% of Instagram Stories with the sound on. This creates an immersive experience where brands have a chance to capture attention and showcase what they’ve got.

The Format

The formats available for Instagram Stories ads are designed for the mobile experience. To convey their message, brands can use video that’s up to 15 seconds or static images up to 10 seconds. Both video and image ads are vertical and occupy the full screen, capturing full user attention.

The Objectives

Instagram Stories were first available under the Reach objective only, and was the new shiny tool for brand advertisers. Very quickly, Facebook released other objectives—Video Views, Brand Awareness, Traffic, App Installs, and even Conversions. While Instagram Stories won’t be your go-to for DR campaigns, they can be efficient at driving higher-funnel objectives, such as traffic to your site and awareness of a product.

Tips to Make your Instagram Stories Ads Work

  • Being visual is key. There is no space for post copy or link description in Instagram Stories ads. The placement is all about looks—so, it’s crucial to use best quality images and videos. An image from a stock photo library that may have worked on Facebook won’t grab user attention on Instagram Stories.
  • Grab attention quickly. As the video on Stories is only up to 15 seconds long, the first couple of seconds need to do the job. Consider including branding at the beginning of the video and not the end. Use text overlays to add a call to action to the ad and influence clicks.
  • Use sound. It’s become customary to recommend that advertisers design video for silent social media feeds. Instagram Stories is your opportunity to combine the visual experience with sound, as the majority of Stories are played with sound on.
  • Think about the environment. Instagram Stories are great and more than 50% of Instagram business accounts use them monthly. However, they won’t suit every brand and every objective. Be critical and evaluate if your brand suits the Instagram demographic, whether your creative assets are suitable, and if you really think what you’re doing will grab attention in seconds.

The Opportunity

Instagram Stories ads are now available to all advertisers using Marin Social. You can select it as a stand-alone placement and use it for Brand Awareness, Video View, Traffic, Conversion, and App Install objectives. For more information, touch base with your account representative. Or, if you’re new to Marin, contact us today.

Sky Jusaityte

Marin Software
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