Redback Solutions

Instagram, the second-largest social media platform in the world, has over 100 billion active users every month and 500 story views every day. With over 90% of Instagrammers following business profiles and around three-quarters purchasing a product discovered in their feed, running video ads on this increasingly popular, mobile-first platform is a no-brainer.

Since Instagram is owned by Facebook, you’ll find many similarities between Facebook and Instagram advertising strategies. You can even set up and manage campaigns across both platforms through the super-powered Ads Manager! This makes targeting your ideal audience easier than ever. Plus you’ll be able to re-use creative across both platforms to reach more people than you ever thought was possible!

So, if you want to find out more about Instagram video marketing you’ve come to the right place! We’ve created this all-encompassing guide to help business owners and marketing managers alike. By the end of reading this, you’ll be an expert! Bonus points if you make it to the end 😉

Looking for info on a specific topic? Follow the links above to skip to that section.

Why Instagram for video?

Instagram’s highly visual platform presents an exciting opportunity to create fully immersive ads with the power of sight, sound and motion. According to Instagram, there’s been an 80% increase in time spent watching videos on the platform. Not only that, video ads generate 3x the amount of comments than photo ads!

The success of Instagram Stories and IGTV shows just how hungry Instagram users are for video content. Their audience is so hungry for video, that Instagram has just announced a new feature called Reels, to compete with Tik Tok on a larger scale.

So let’s give Instagrammers what they want!

Best practices for Instagram video marketing

Now that you know the amazing potential video marketing has for your business, it’s time to get cracking on your first campaign! Let’s create a video so enticing that your audience wouldn’t dare to scroll past. Here are some winning tips that are sure to impress ’em. 

  1. Goal setting

    Before embarking on any campaign, you need to set some clear goals. Your objectives will impact every single stage of the campaign, so it’s important to get this right from the start.

    Do you want to build brand awareness? Educate your audience? Encourage sales?

  2. Make the first 3 seconds count

    You’ve probably heard that attention spans are shortening. Especially online, where users consume hours upon hours of visual content a day.

    One way to instantly capture the attention of your audience is to use movement, particularly in the first 3 seconds of your ad. If the first few seconds are too subtle, the viewer might assume it’s a photo and scroll right past.

  3. Add captions

    Instagram videos are muted by default, so adding captions and text to the video can help capture interest and highlight anything you don’t want your audience to miss. Too much text, however, can be overwhelming and make the video seem cluttered, turning users away. It’s a fine line!

  4. Don’t be overly self-promotional

    No one likes a pushy salesperson. Your video ad should blend naturally into your audience’s Instagram Feed, giving some sort of value to the user. Maintaining authenticity is key to capturing attention, boosting engagement and encouraging customer loyalty.

  5. Calls to action

    Unlike Facebook, Instagram doesn’t allow organic posts to have clickable URLs. The best way to drive Instagrammers to your website is with ads in the News Feed or Stories with clickable call to action (CTA) buttons.

    This CTA helps to reinforce your message. Instagram Stories ads have a “swipe up” feature, so adding some text or graphics pointing to that feature helps guide users to take further action.

  6. Make your content loopy

    Instagram videos auto-play and auto-loop, making it easier than ever to capture audience attention. That being said, you should optimise your videos for loopability (we’re pretty sure that’s a real word) with a smooth transition from the end to the start of the video.

What format should I use?

Now that you’ve got basics down pat, let’s look at the video ad formats available on Instagram. From classic Feed ads to the newest format, Instant Experience (previously known as Canvas ads), there’s an ad placement suitable for every objective.

The most important thing to consider when choosing your format is making sure it aligns with your campaign goals. If you’re wanting to build awareness, you should consider Feed or Explore ads, whereas Stories and Instant Experiences are great for driving conversions.

We’ll break down the features and specs for each format below?


Build brand awareness and reach more users as they scroll through their Feed

Instagram Feed Ad

Instagram Feed ads are the most common ad you’ll see on the platform. They’re available in a single video or carousel with multiple scrollable videos, appearing as a native experience when users are scrolling through their feed.

Instagram Stories

Reach and drive conversions as users consume stories

Instagram Stories Ad

Instagram Stories were an instant success when they launched back in ’16 and have continued to grow to over 500 million daily users. Stories have been so successful that they’ve launched on Facebook as well, meaning that advertisers can use the same creative across both platforms.

Video Story ads are full screen, run for 15 seconds and disappear after 24 hours. They can be enhanced with interactive elements like gifs, stickers and emojis.

Instagram Stories is a great place to feature your ad because users expect to see video content. In fact, 1/3 of the most viewed stories are from businesses, so the “selling” part of the ad doesn’t need to feel as forced.

Explore Ads

Reach new audiences as they explore new content

Instagram’s Explore tab allows users to discover photos and videos from accounts they don’t follow, according to their specific interests. Since users scrolling through the Explore section are already in a discovery mindset (and most receptive to ads) it’s an ideal placement for businesses looking to boost brand awareness and garner interest in their products.

Here’s some extra stats about Instagram Explore:

  • Over 200 million Instagrammers use the Explore feature every day
  • 50% of Instagrammers use Explore every month
  • 83% of users discover new products or services through Instagram

Instagram Explore ads don’t appear in the Explore feed, though. Instead, they appear after a user taps on a photo or video, which then expands to take up the full-screen. Then the user can scroll through similar contact to that post, which is where explore ads appear. This prevents the ad from being too intrusive or plain annoying.

They’re in the same format as Instagram Feed ads, so you can easily extend your Feed campaign or reuse the creative further down the track with the Explore placement.

Instant Experience Ads

Increase traffic and conversions with an engaging shopping experience

Newest addition to the ad format family and previously known as Canvas Ads, Instant Experience Ads create a fully immersive and interactive 360 VR experience. They’re highly customisable, allowing you to add CTA buttons, product carousels, video, text boxes and headers.

Instagram Video Ad Specs

When creating your Instagram video ad, it’s also important to design according to the technical requirements. Stories are completely different to Feed ads so make sure you’re adhering to the right specs for each format. Check out our guide for more details on the specs you’ll need.

Targeting Options

Instagram takes advantage of Facebook’s powerful targeting capabilities, allowing you to target specific people based on things like:

  • Location
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Language
  • Demographics
  • Interests
  • Behaviours
  • Connections

You can even create custom audiences with people that have previously interacted with your content, or target similar people with lookalike audiences.

Target & retarget

If you’re trying to reach a “cold audience” who have never interacted with your brand before, it would be better to create slightly longer videos to boost brand awareness.

That said, if you’re retargeting people who have visited your website or abandoned their cart, you need to create specific retargeting videos for them. These people already know who your brand is and are already interested in your product or service, so you can create shorter videos that quickly get to the point and encourage them to convert into paying customers!

Bidding Options

Instagram uses the same auction bidding system as Facebook to determine which ads will be shown. The more bids you win, the more your ad will be displayed.

But it’s not just the highest bidder that will get their ad out there. Other factors such as buying signal, trust and relevance are taken into consideration to make sure that users are only served ads that are useful or interesting to them.

You can choose to bid based on impressions or conversions. We recommend bidding on CMP (cost per thousand impressions) if your campaign is aiming for reach and engagement, and conversions if you’re aiming for action.

While Instagram ads utilise the same bidding strategies as Facebook, they’ve been shown to be at least twice as cost-effective. How much you’ll actually spend on your ad really depends on your budget and whether you select Automatic or Manual bidding.

Automatic bidding

With automatic bidding (the default setting) the algorithm will find the lowest cost for the objective you’re bidding on. It compares your bid against other advertisers, determining how competitive it will be to get your customer’s attention and maximise your budget to get the best possible outcome.

We recommend using automatic bidding if:

  • You’re new to Instagram advertising
  • You’re trying to find a benchmark for how much your ad costs
  • You have a limited budget and are looking for maximum results

Manual bidding

Manual bidding, on the other hand, allows you to set a cost control, meaning that you can tell Instagram’s algorithm how much you’re willing to bid in the auction. This strategy can be used to be more competitive against other advertisers and drive better cost-efficiency.

There are a few different ways you can use manual bidding:

  1. Set a cap cost

    If you select a cost cap, Instagram won’t spend any more than a set amount per bid. Say you’re looking to spend less than $8 per conversion, cost cap bidding optimises for conversions below this price.

    This is a good option when you need to stay within a certain threshold. However, you might not get as many conversions as you’re looking for. As Instagram is trying to find as many conversions within your price cap, it might not be able to spend your whole budget.

  2. Set a bid cap

    With a bid cap, you’re also telling Instagram how much you’re willing to spend per bid. But because this option runs on a second-tier auction, it might not reflect the cost you actually pay. For example, if you bid a cost-per-click of $5 and you competitor bid $3.50, you’ll win the bid and only be charged $3.50.

    This option is useful for expanding your opportunities with a set price, while also increasing your competitiveness in a crowded marketplace.

    Keep in mind though, Instagram may not be able to use your bid cap to win as many opportunities available in your budget. Your costs may rise as you run out of cheaper opportunities.

  3. Set a target cost

    Target cost bidding is when you set a price for a conversion. For this reason, this option is only available for app installs, lead generation and conversion objectives.

    Target cost bidding allows you to get as many conversions for a set price as possible, helping to keep your costs consistent.

    However, you might miss out on cheaper conversions because you restricted Instagram to a set price. Additionally, Instagram might not be able to spend your entire budget if it runs out of opportunities to convert people in that range.

Setting Up Instagram Ads on Facebook Ads Manager

While you can set up ads on the Instagram app, it’s so much easier through Ads Manager. Plus, you can do so much more! It’s the go-to place for creating, editing and managing ads across both Facebook and Instagram.

You don’t even need an Instagram account to start your ad campaign! All you need is a Facebook business page. Setting up a campaign is pretty straightforward – just follow these simple steps:

  1. Choose a marketing objective
  2. Name your ad campaign
  3. Define your audience, placements, budget and schedule
  4. Upload the ad

Note: Facebook Ads Manager tends to select both Facebook and Instagram placements by default. If you only want your ad to only appear on Instagram, you will need to:

  • Select “Edit Placements”
  • Deselect “Facebook” (and for some objectives, “Audience Network”) under Platforms

If you want to create an Instagram Stories ad, you’ll need to click on the arrow left of “Instagram” and select Stories from the drop-down menu.

Instagram Ads Placement


We’re often asked how much Instagram ads cost. But the answer isn’t so simple.

You can set the budget and Instagram will spend it as efficiently as possible. If you select a daily budget, Instagram will spend no more than this amount each day. But if you select a lifetime budget for your campaign, Instagram will distribute it at optimal times throughout the campaign period – when the most users will be receptive at its lowest.

To get the best bang for your buck, you need the right combination of budget setting and bidding strategies.


Platforms like Facebook and YouTube allow you to upload a custom thumbnail for your video. But with Instagram ads, you have to select a thumbnail from the video, as the platform auto-loops video. So keep this in mind when you’re shooting!

Make the video shoppable

If you want to increase click-through rates and sales from your video ads, take advantage of shoppable posts. Using this feature allows you to tag each product featured in the video. This makes it easier than ever for people to find (and buy) the product they’re looking at.

Analysing the performance of Instagram video marketing

You’re able to view metrics on Instagram itself, but Facebook Ad Manager is where you can really get into the nitty-gritty. When you first log in to Ads Manager, it’s easy to get bombarded with all the stats available. Trust us, we know how you feel! But don’t worry, we’re here to make sense of them all.

The main metrics you should be looking at are reach, sales, CTR and CPC. For Stories ads, there are a few extra metrics but the main ones you’ll want to focus on include back taps, exit story, website visits and product page views per product tag. We’ll break them all down for you below.


Once upon a time, everything was about engagement rates on Instagram. But since the removal of ‘likes’ from the platform, many advertisers have since turned to reach for more accurate reporting.

If your objective is to increase brand awareness, reach is one of the most important metrics to take into account. This monitors how many unique accounts have viewed your ad and therefore how much awareness and value you’re gaining.


With shoppable posts, Story product stickers and shoppable AR filters, Instagram has taken huge steps to help brands drive sales on the platform.

To easily track sales from Instagram, simply add UTM parameters to any links you use. This way, you’ll be able to see how many conversions and how much revenue you earned from your campaign.

Click-through rate (CTR)

Click-through rate is calculated by dividing the number of clicks your ad received by the number of times your ad was shown. This figure is always shown as a percentage.

According to Adstage, the average CTR on for an Instagram Feed placement is 0.88% while Stories receive 0.54% CTR.

Cost per click (CPC)

When looking at the results of a campaign, it’s always important to look at the actual $$$ each lead costs. The best way to do this is to look at the cost per click, which is the amount you’re charged for a single click on your ad.

According to Adstage, you should be aiming for a CPC of:

$0.67 – On Instagram Feed
$0.76 – On Stories

Back taps (Stories only)

Back taps are the number of times someone has “tapped back” to view your story. When someone “taps back” on your story, it suggests that they want to consume your content twice because your content is compelling in some way.

Exits (Stories only)

Exits show how many people left your Story without watching it to the end. This happens when:

  • Users close Instagram while viewing your Story
  • Users click on the x on the top-right corner of your story
  • Users have swiped down to go back to the main feed

You might also hear the term “exit rates” thrown around. The exit rate of a story is the number of exits divided by the number of impressions.

Example: if your Story got 234 impressions and 21 exits, the exit rate would be 8.9%

A high exit rate could indicate that the content didn’t appeal to your target audience. This may mean you need to tweak your video or audience targeting strategy.

Website visits (Stories only)

If you have over 10K followers on Instagram, you’re one of the lucky accounts that can add links to your organic (unpaid) Stories. But with Stories ads, you can add clickable calls to action to drive traffic to your website too!

Creating trackable links with UTM parameters is a great way to determine how effective your ad campaign is.

Product page views per product tag (Stories only)

If you have tagged products featured in your Story, you can see how many views each product page receives. This is a great way to see what your audience is interested in, helping you to refine your strategy over time.

Testing Instagram Video Marketing in 2020

Enough of us blabbering on about how great Instagram ads are. Let’s put them to the test!

We’re conducting a little experiment, comparing all the Instagram video ad formats to find out which one works best. We’re also analysing video ad campaigns across a number of social media platforms including Facebook, YouTube, Snapchat, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Twitter, even Tik Tok!

Results coming soon…

Check out some of the best Instagram video marketing campaigns!

Okay, so you want to incorporate some Instagram video ads into your digital strategy but don’t know where to start. We’ve compiled some impressive examples to get your creative juices flowing!


Australian telecommunications company, Telstra took to Instagram Stories to showcase their sponsorship of the AFL and NRL finals:

Telstra ran a series of Instagram Stories that encouraged people to participate in an Instagram Live game for the chance to win tickets to the grand finals.

65,000 people tuned in to their Instagram Live series and they achieved a 3 point lead in the number of football fans associating with Telstra. Now if that’s not a success, we don’t know what is!


Dog food brand, Pedigree, created an Instagram competition to raise awareness of their new product SelfieSTIX:

The competition encourages Instagrammers to post a selfie with their dog, using #selfiestix to win a year’s supply of dog food.

The ad fits seamlessly in the Feed of their target audience, who are used to seeing similar pet selfies, or perhaps have even posted their own. Plus the cute fluffy dog factor draws in loads of users.

Cooks Illustrated

American cooking magazine, Cooks Illustrated, shows us that you don’t need a full-on production budget to captivate audiences with video:

This simple yet effective video utilises the high-quality photos that were shot for their latest magazine, adding simple motion with quick-cut transitions and zooms. This Feed video ad led to a whopping 45% increase in leads!

Get started with Instagram video marketing today!

By now, you should know that Instagram is one beast of an advertising platform that you shouldn’t ignore. And this guide should equip you with all the info you need to get started on your Instagram video marketing campaign!

If you’d prefer to leave it to the pros, we’re happy to help. Our Instagram video marketing specialists can create the right campaign for your audience and continually optimise its performance. We can even create branded stickers and gifs to enhance your Instagram Stories!

So if you’re not sure where to start with Instagram video marketing, get in touch with Redback Solutions today.


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