Instagram evolved from an exclusive photo-sharing platform to one that now includes video formats. From 15-second Instagram Stories to long-format in-feed videos, marketers can leverage these powerful marketing tools.
Video ads on Instagram, in particular, are an attention-grabbing way to showcase your product or service. According to Meta’s Q3 2022 earnings release, production and consumption of Instagram Reels grew by 50% to 140 billion shares across Facebook, Instagram, and DMs. So, now is the best time to capitalize on Instagram video advertisements.
In this guide, you’ll learn how video ads on Instagram can help you achieve business objectives and best practices.
Different Types of Instagram Videos
But let’s back up a bit. What are the different types of videos on Instagram in the first place? Here are four:
These videos appear on users’ feeds the same way image posts do. They can run up to 60 minutes long. This gives businesses leeway to create different types of content – from behind-the-scenes videos to promotions. It’s a surefire way to get Instagram likes. Plus, you can engage customers in the comment section.
This in-feed ad looks like a regular post with the like, comment, and caption section. The call to action button (CTA) sits between the video and the engagement features.
These posts use a full-screen, vertical video format, appearing in the Stories section. They run for up to 15 seconds and ‘disappear’ after 24 hours (Note that Instagram Stories ads are different from regular Stories; they allow you to customize ad length). Interactive elements like tagging and stickers give Instagram Stories content an organic feel. It’s one of the few places you can post a direct link on the app.
This Instagram Story doesn’t have like or comment features, but viewers can share the ad with their followers. The CTA button sits at the bottom of the screen, and users swipe up to go to a converting landing page.
These 90-second videos are the newest video format on the app. They appear on the Instagram Explore page, followers’ feeds, and the Reels section of your profile. Customers engage with them by liking, commenting, and sharing.
This Reels ad looks like a cross between Instagram Stories and In-Feed posts. The video is a vertical full-screen. The caption, engagement, and CTA buttons are onscreen and not separate from the video.
Instagram Live allows users to stream videos for up to four hours. Live streams appear in the Stories panel and only your followers can view them. Even though Meta is phasing out the Live Shopping feature, it is a great marketing format to interact with followers. You can also share exclusive content like tutorials or events.
Whatever format you choose, well-designed Instagram ads should feel like organic posts.
Instagram Video Advertising Goals
The statistics on video marketing are compelling – demand for video content is 91%. However, it would help if you had a well-thought-out content marketing plan to capitalize on the trend. Your marketing strategy should identify the marketing or business goals you wish to achieve with video ad content.
These goals can be one or more of the following:
Brand Awareness and Reach
Brand awareness is the degree to which target audiences recognize a brand, product, or service by name. Customers are more likely to buy products they know than those they don’t. Therefore, businesses with high brand awareness rates generate more sales and create economic moats that protect their market share from competitors.
Some ways to measure brand awareness on Instagram are mentions and engagement.
It refers to creating meaningful customer interactions and building customer loyalty. According to Forbes, people are exposed to almost 8,000 ads a day. If you want customers to remember you, you should create engaging and organic content for every step of the customer journey.
You track your engagement rate by how many likes, video views, comments, and shares your video post gets.
This objective falls under the category of increasing brand audience. SaaS brands don’t sell physical products; they sell subscriptions. These companies use video ads on Instagram to demonstrate their software value and drive app installs. So, instead of a ‘Buy Now’ CTA, you may see an ‘Install Now’ or ‘Download’ CTA. The more downloads you get, the bigger your audience.
The goal of every marketing campaign is to turn prospects into customers. It is difficult to justify the budget spend on video marketing with low conversion rates. Fortunately, 92% of marketers believe that videos give them a good return on investment (ROI), with increased leads, traffic, and sales.
Instagram Video Ad Best Practices to Follow
If you’re considering video ads on Instagram, study the various video feeds to understand features, engagement capabilities, and content trends. The best ones usually blend into followers’ feeds. Here are five tips to optimize your Instagram video ads.
Choose Appealing Visuals
According to a study, you should deliver value in the first three to ten seconds to ensure viewers keep watching your video.
So, you need to make your ad visually appealing.
Start by minimizing the number of visual elements in the ad. Mobile screens don’t have a lot of space. You want to reduce the visual clutter and direct the viewers’ gaze to the product.
Also, use bright colors to capture attention. Check out this great example from Apple. The yellow green and pink colors stand out:
Use your brand colors, too, to improve recognition.
Also, place your product front and center in your video. You only have a few seconds to leave an impression; the viewers should know what the product is even if they don’t watch the full video.
There are technical requirements to making video clips appealing. We recommend vertical videos to fit the natural orientation of smartphones. Instagram Stories and Reels are full-screen formats and look better in portrait orientation. Other technical guidelines include video size, resolution, MP4 or MOV format, and 4:5 aspect ratio video settings.
Write Compelling Captions
As important as ad visuals are, you mustn’t underestimate the power of captions. Videos on Instagram automatically play without sound. That means viewers must tap the sound icon to hear the marketing message.
Again, you have a short time to grab customers’ attention. If your ad relies on sound, you must convince viewers to switch on the video sound. Onscreen captions help audiences hook into ad storylines and increase view time by 12%. They allow you to communicate your marketing message with or without sound and are browsing-friendly for people with hearing disabilities.
The video captions of this Nike reel (this isn’t a video ad, but just want to prove a point) are timed with the audio narration. The font color stands out for easy reading. So, whether the video sound is off or on, the audience receives a cohesive experience. You can do this with your Instagram video ads, too.
Remember, ad copy can clutter your ad, so keep your message concise.
Use Call-to-Action Buttons
The call to action turns prospects into leads and leads into customers. If you want users to download an app, sign up for a newsletter, or buy a product, the CTA directs them to the right place.
Instagram doesn’t provide many opportunities for direct links to drive conversions. There is the link in the bio and the link sticker in Stories. However, Stories are short-lived. If you send leads from your video to your bio to a landing page, you might lose them.
A third option is available to business/professional accounts to run ads. The CTA button appears at the bottom of the screen. Check out the Learn More CTA in the screenshot of Velocity Black’s video ad above.
To catch viewers when they are most interested, ensure your CTAs appear in the middle of the video. If you wait until the end, you will miss the chance to convert the people who didn’t watch the entire video. If CTAs appear at the beginning, you might seem pushy.
Hashtags are keywords or phrases that help people find content around searched topics. But if you’re using a pay-per-click strategy to amplify your ads, do you need them?
The short answer is yes.
Hashtags give context to your ads, allowing Instagram to understand and categorize your content. Instagram uses hashtags as signals to determine which content gets in front of which audience, affecting your rank on the Explore page and content delivery to your followers' Instagram feed.
Test Different Ad Formats
Even if you create an ad you think customers would like, it’s best to test different ad formats to find the one your audience responds to. Customer viewing preferences change. A/B testing helps you learn what they want to see.
A/B or split testing compares two or more versions of the same ad. This helps you determine which version leaves the most impact and drives conversions. Test each element individually, i.e., CTA buttons, color schemes, or caption copy, to find the best combination. For instance, the only variable between two ads could be the caption text color or video length.
Split testing adds another step to your video ad campaign. However, with A/B testing tools, you save time and money by running ads that bring results. When you sign up for Meta Ads Manager, you can use the same tools that optimize Facebook ads for your Instagram A/B testing.
Instagram recognizes the value of video. Savvy marketers are capitalizing on the social channel’s video formats to reach audiences and drive sales. They use the platform to demonstrate product uses, highlight unique features, or tell their brand story. This guide showed you how Instagram video ads could help you meet your business goals. You learned five best practices to optimize your video ad campaigns. As a final tip, remember that your Instagram videos must be authentic, entertaining, and high-quality. Otherwise, customers will just swipe or scroll past them. Good luck!
Harry Flynn is a guest contributor to Marin Software.