Instagram Ads, Facebook Ads and Other Paid Social Ads

When it comes to Instagram and Facebook, there are a many enticing creative possibilities. The challenge is to figure out what format works best for your product or service. We have ideas!

Pictured below: this is an Instagram “Stories” ad. We love this format because it’s full screen, full colour and full audio — just like a modern day TV ad.

Instagram has a great ad format known as Instagram Stories. It's full screen and can include a button.

The “Instagram Stories” ad format opens full-frame on the user’s screen. To close it, people need to take an action, either by tapping on the screen or clicking X. Otherwise it plays for several seconds.

Instagram Stories open full frame and play for up to 15 seconds. We can post these organically so you don't have to or we can buy ads that put the creative on the screens of thousands of people.

Instagram Stories Ads

Instagram Stories ads cost anywhere from $18-40 per thousand people (CPM) plus creative. CPM is an abbreviation for “cost per thousand” so to show your ad to 1,000 people it will cost you between $18 and $40.

We can instruct Instagram to pay less, or to pay-per-click instead of purchasing the audience by the thousand. Depending on the creative we can get the clicks to around 50 cent but it depends on the auction environment. Bidding less may result in your ad not being served. The creative fees vary widely.

The nice thing about Instagram Stories is you can stack multiple pieces of creative side by side.

If you wanted to run up to ten 15 second spots in a row, you could. This format is called an Instagram Stories Carousel.

We 🖤 Instagram and Facebook ads. We. Love. Instagram.

Instagram and Facebook In-Feed

The second and perhaps more familiar creative format is “in-feed.” This type of creative is typically square, and is consistent (“native”) with Instagram’s user experience.

We can run multiple Instagram posts together so that people scroll through them. This is called a carousel.

When done properly, social media ads deliver tremendous results.

There’s a reason Facebook is one of the largest companies in the world.

Facebook has developed an extremely powerful advertising machine. You just need to know how to fly it. Err, wait that’s Twitter. With Instagram you need to know how to drive it. Like a spaceship!

We are confident that once your business starts running ads on Instagram and Facebook you will wonder how you ever lived without them.

Why Are Instagram Ads So Effective? Ad Targeting.

In a word, people. There are a lot of people that use Instagram and Facebook.

But it’s not just the staggering amount of people that use Instagram that make Instagram ads a great choice.

It’s the way you can target all of those people.

The key to targeting is to exclude as many people as possible without overdoing it. For brand safety purposes,we use Facebook's "block list" function.
Using “block lists” when building an audience is always a good idea.

Many of the businesses we work with are — in some way — specialized. They generate revenue because they do one particular thing better than anyone else.

Maybe you’re an interior designer. Or an investment quant. Maybe you’re a construction company. Or a commercial real estate company. Or a kitchen design firm.

You get the picture. Perhaps you’re a photographer? 😂

Social media is perfect for specialized businesses.

The benefit of operating a specialized business is that it appeals to a specialized audience.

Instagram is a perfect place for brands engaged in design services and tangible products to advertise. You can (and should) use both organic and paid approaches.

Running Instagram Ads to a Niche Audience

We can run ads in the inboxes of millions of people who use Facebook’s popular messaging app.

But we don’t want to reach millions of people. We only want to reach the people who are likely to buy.

This is an ad ran in the inboxes of certain types of parents living in Vancouver, BC.

This is an ad that ran in the inbox of Facebook's popular messaging app.

This ad is only shown to parents of adult children because they are most likely to have kids attending a post secondary institution.

That’s why we use the word “kid” and the motivational text “move on”. This is what most parents want their kids to do after graduating.

The Rise of “Dark” Marketing

Dark marketing is a new moniker for digital marketing that is only shown to a select segment. The ad above is an example. The messaging of this ad would be wasted on anyone who is not a parent of an educated adult child.

Let’s demonstrate how we combined this targeted creative with Facebook’s audience targeting.

Social Media Audience Targeting is the Best Thing Since Sliced Bread

Above: We are able to target parents with adult children 18-26 years who also live in Vancouver and are at least 50 years old.

The reason we target parents is that they are the ones who finance this type of career counselling.

One more important thing to note is that we exclude anyone (any parent in this case) who doesn’t hold at least a bachelor’s degree. We include this additional educational targeting because parents who hold advanced degrees recognize the importance of specialized student career counselling.

This leaves us with a very narrow audience of 46,000 parents — perfect for a niche business like this.

The Benefit of Narrow Targeting

If we are able to lock in to an audience of 40,000 people — which also happens to be the minimum size of a Facebook custom audience — then we can test variations of creative while building frequency.

In other words, we’ll expose a micro-audience to different Instagram ads that we will continually measure and refine.

This process of testing and strengthening Instagram leads to high click-through rates — much higher than the industry average. Combined with narrow targeting, high click through rates means that you are giving your audience what you intended. Success!

Average engagement rates on Instagram are 1.6%. We aim for 5%.

Next… We’ll look at how we measure Instagram ad results.

Social media ad testing - comparing different creative
We test our social media ads. It is a sin not to.

Above: This is an example of our process. With all of our Instagram campaigns we start with three versions of an ad and test for performance. We then refine the winning ad until we see high sustained rates of traffic driven by high click through rates.

We can clearly see that Ad Set 2 outperformed the other options.

Industry-leading KPI dashboards to track all aspects of your campaigns

Why We Test And Measure Paid Social Media Ads

Back in the dark ages — 2014 — Instagram didn’t have nearly the number of users or creative options it has today.

Today, Instagram provides agencies and advertisers with access to the most powerful dashboard of creative options available in the world.

Armed with an Instagram agency account, we can start running Instagram story videos or appearing in the Instagram feed in minutes.

We can include buttons so people can call. Or buttons so people can buy. Our favourite button is one that sends traffic to a web page. We love that button.

Instagram is a marketer’s dream. If you have something to sell we’ll help you figure out a way to sell it using Instagram.

Instagram and Facebook Ad Formats

There are thirteen different types of image ads. Each type of ad must be formatted properly so that it can be served and displayed. These are some examples of Instagram and Facebook image ads.

Facebook and Instagram have several different types of ad formats. Within each format are also different formats. There's a lot of formats to format!

Mobile News Feed

An example of a Facebook Mobile news feed ad.

Mobile Marketplace

An example of a Facebook Mobile Marketplace ad.

Instagram and Facebook Stories

An example of an Instagram Stories ad. This is similar to what is displayed to Facebook users.
The Instagram Stories format takes over the user’s screen for 5 seconds. Boom!

Desktop Marketplace

An example of a desktop marketplace ad.
This is the desktop version of a marketplace ad.

Audience Network (Native)

An example of a Facebook Audience Network Native ad. This ad format is shown on third-party mobile apps and mobile websites.
This ad format is shown on third-party mobile apps and mobile websites.

There are many other types of ad formats, including carousel ads (great!), Video ads, Collection ads (for displaying variations of items such as different coloured purses or style of pant), and more!