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How does advertising on Instagram work (and how much does it cost)

Instagram is a great social network for advertising and is now just as big and successful as its parent company Facebook.

In April 2017, Instagram reached over 700 million monthly active users.

That is more than twice as many active users as on the Twitter platform.

You have to share beautiful and high quality photos to be successful on Instagram.

This approach offers many companies an almost infinite number of possibilities. Even companies in a rather boring industry can share beautiful pictures and videos.

You don't need a physical product for that.

You can reach your ideal customers with a branded or themed hashtag.

However, the platform can seem confusing if you are not familiar with Instagram.

If you don't know how advertising works on Instagram or how expensive these ads are, then you should read on now and find out how you can run an effective advertising campaign on Instagram for little money.

Why you should advertise on Instagram

Instagram is growing rapidly and continuously.

There is also no end in sight.

The number of companies advertising on Instagram has almost doubled since 2016.

In March 2017, 1 million companies were already advertising.

In March 2016, a year earlier, there were only 200,000 companies. So the number of advertisers on Instagram has increased 5 times in just one year!

But there is a good reason for this, because the platform brings results.

According to a study by eMarketer, Instagram mobile advertising revenue could soon reach $ 2.81 billion. That would be 10% of Facebook's advertising revenue.

The study also predicts that Instagram will generate higher net sales of display ads for mobile devices in the US than Google or Twitter.

Instagram is growing, but it is also a good source of revenue for many companies.

Many brands advertise on this platform because it pays off.

You don't have to be a multi-million dollar company to advertise, because advertising on Instagram can be worthwhile, especially for small businesses.

Businesses of all sizes should promote their products, brands, and services on Instagram because ...:

  1. ... everyone can advertise on the platform.
  2. ... you can access the functions for targeting Facebook, since Facebook is the parent company of Instagram.
  3. ... the options for targeting target groups are infinite. Companies can exchange comments with potential customers.
  4. ... advertisements do not look like advertisements and are therefore better received.

Whatever your goals, whether to strengthen your brand perception, more visitors to your website, more customers, downloads for your latest e-book, you can address the right target group with Instagram.

There are six advertising formats available to you, four of them for the Instagram feed and two for the Instagram stories.

Now I'll show you how to use each of these formats. We'll start with the ads for the Instagram feed.

Advertising in the Instagram feed

Here are the ad formats for the Instagram feed:

  • Photo Ads
  • Video Ads
  • Slideshow Ads
  • Carousel Ads

The specifications can be viewed in the Facebook ad manager. Here are the recommended specs for pictures and videos:

I'll go into Photo Ads now.

1. Photo Ads

You can create up to six ads, each with a photo.

How to create these ads:

Photo ads with an image are quick and easy to create.

First select the image (or images) for your ad (s).

You can use a picture from your library, upload a new photo or use a free stock photo.

Then write a text about it.

Your description can be up to 300 characters long. After the third line, the text is hidden (...). The user then has to open the text with one click to read the rest.

Facebook recommends using no more than 125 characters.

If you want to send visitors to your website, you have to provide a URL.

Enter your URL and choose a call to action.

You can ignore the Display Link, Headline and News Feed Link Description fields because they are not relevant in this case.

Video ads work very similarly.

2. Video Ads

Video ads can consist of a video or a GIF.

How to create these ads:

Select the format, then upload a video or select a video from your library.

Set the thumbnail from the preview of your video or upload a thumbnail.

You can upload an SRT file if you want your video to have subtitles.

You can also add a short description here, but the character limit of 125 applies again this time.

If you want to send visitors to your website, you have to enter a URL again and select a call to action.

Now I want to go into the slideshow ads.

3. Slideshow Ads

Slideshow ads are videos in a loop or ads that consist of up to ten pictures (with music).

The format is very similar to the carousel ads and moves on its own.

How to create these ads:

Upload a slideshow or create a new slideshow in the Facebook ad manager.

Upload pictures, move each picture in the right place, edit the settings, then select music.

Pick a thumbnail, write a good description, and enter your URL.

You can even promote a post from Facebook on Instagram. If a Facebook post has had particularly good results, you should consider this strategy.

With Carousel Ads you can show several pictures and videos at the same time.

4. Carousel Ads

Carousel ads can contain multiple images or videos.

How to create these ads:

Write a description. This description applies to the entire ad and cannot be cropped to individual images or videos.

Now you have to lay out cards. You can use up to 10 carousel cards in one advertisement.

You can upload one picture, video or slideshow per card.

Then write a heading and a brief description for each card.

Enter a URL for the CTA button.

You can ignore the “Show More” URL and Set “Show More” URL sections, as these only apply to carousel ads on Facebook.

Select a CTA that is valid for the entire carousel display, as this cannot be adjusted for individual cards.

For recommendations, help, and ideas regarding carousel ads, see the Facebook Advertising Help section.

Each of your ads should also contain a Lead Ads form.

Add lead ads forms

Each of your advertisements, regardless of the format you choose, should contain a lead ads form.

You can use an existing form or create a new one.

If you want to create a new form, you have to fill out the following areas:

  • Characteristics
    1. title
    2. picture
    3. layout
  • ask
  • Data policy
  • “Thank you” page
    1. Website link that users can click after completing the form.
    2. Button text

Click on "Finish" in the upper right corner when the form is ready.

You cannot edit the form after it has been completed, so if it is not ready, you should "Save" it.

Now you know the formats for advertising in the Instagram feed. Now I would like to introduce you to the formats for the stories.

Advertising in the Instagram Stories

Instagram now also enables advertising to be placed in the stories.

These advertisements are displayed between the normal stories.

There are two advertising formats for the stories: single image or single video.

You have to define the “target group” and choose your “placement”.

1. Single image

You can run up to six ads with one picture.

The advertisements look like normal Instagram stories, but are marked with “Sponsored”.

How to create these ads:

Creating an advertisement for Instagram Stories is very straightforward. All you really have to do is upload one picture.

That's it!

If you want to enable pixel or offline tracking, you can set this under “Advanced options”.

Now I'll show you how to create video ads for Instagram Stories.

2. Single video

This format allows a 15 second video or GIF.

How to create these ads:

Upload a GIF or video and select the thumbnail.

The thumbnail is a small thumbnail that will appear before the video starts playing, so choose a nice and clear picture.

If you want to enable pixel or offline tracking, you can set this again under “Advanced options”.


Now you know the different Instagram advertising formats and are probably wondering how much they cost.

How expensive is advertising on Instagram?

Since Instagram advertising is placed in Facebook's advertising system, one could assume that the prices for both platforms are roughly the same.

The cost of your advertising campaign on Instagram depends on your budget and your bid strategy.

Timothy Masek, head of growth at the Ladder marketing agency, says advertising on Instagram is cheaper than advertising on Facebook.

While it's hard to be precise, Masek estimates that the CPM (cost per 1,000 impressions) of an Instagram ad is around $ 5.

Masek says, "... the CPM of a Facebook ad is around $ 10, and that of an Instagram ad is closer to $ 5."

But you can set your budget yourself. If you want to spend a maximum of 10 euros per day, then you can set it that way.

A study by Marketing Land shows that the costs per click are also lower.

When creating your ad campaign, you'll need to select a campaign goal, including but not limited to: Brand awareness, reach, traffic, app installs, interactions, video views and conversions.

Then give your campaign a descriptive name under “Campaign Name” or use the automatically generated suggestion from Facebook.

Now you can edit, personalize and tailor your campaign to your budget.

1. Define the target group

Facebook advertising works so well because the platform has fantastic audience targeting.

This function is available to you for Instagram advertising.

You can target users based on their location, age, gender, demographic characteristics, interests, behavior, contacts or language skills.

You can also address users who have already interacted with your content or who have a connection with your existing customers.

You can create a lookalike audience that is very similar to your customers.

The Facebook ad manager shows the following information about your selected audience:

  • Potential reach
  • Estimated daily results
  • How specific or large the target group you have chosen is
  • The criteria you selected

You can then determine the placement of your ads.

2. Edit placements

This step is especially important if you want to run the same ad on Facebook and Instagram or advertise in the stories and news feed.

If you only want your ad to appear on Instagram, you have to remove the “Edit placements” and “Facebook” in the “Platforms” section.

If you want your advertisements to appear in Instagram Stories, you have to check the box next to “Instagram Stories”.

You can also determine on which mobile devices and operating systems your ads should be displayed.

If you want to advertise an app that only works on the iOS operating system, you have to set this accordingly at this point.

In this case, select the option “iOS devices only”.

In the last step, you set your budget and your schedule.

3. Determine the budget and schedule

You can determine yourself how much you want to spend on your Instagram campaign and how long it should run.

You can set a “daily budget” or a “running time budget”.

With the daily budget, you determine a fixed amount that can be spent every day. The runtime budget is applied to the entire runtime of your campaign.

You can have your ads run continuously until the budget is used up or you can set a start and end date.

You can use these advanced features to tailor your ad to your exact needs.

If you've never run an ad before, you can use Facebook's recommended settings.

Then, once you get a feel for your ads, you can play around with the settings a bit. Make changes to cut your spending.

4. Spend less money with influencer outreach

If you want to cut your advertising budget, you should work with Instagram influencers. Find suitable influencers, tag them in your posts or get in touch and ask them if they would promote your brand.

You can use the Ninja Outreach program for this.

Enter a keyword to find suitable Instagram influencers from the relevant industry.

You can filter your results, e.g. B. by bloggers, or companies, etc. Ninja Outreach has a database with over 2 million Instagram users and new ones are constantly being added.

You can filter the results by number of followers and see additional information about each user, including their other social profiles and contact information.

When you have found a suitable influencer (or several influencers), you can start contacting them. You can either do this directly via the Ninja Outreach Interface or you can download a CSV file.


Instagram is one of the largest and most popular social networks, so it offers endless opportunities for advertising.

It's even bigger than Twitter, which is why many companies advertise on Instagram.

You should also run ads on Instagram.

You first have to decide on a suitable format.

The feed ads first appear directly in the news feed of your selected target group with the normal Instagram posts of other users.

You can place photo ads, video ads, slideshow ads and carousel ads.

Set up a Lead Ads form to collect user contact information.

The Instagram Stories Ads appear directly in the stories of the users.

You can place photos or videos in the stories.

The costs of your advertising campaign can be freely determined by you, so you do not run the risk of exceeding your budget.

Determine your audience, choose your ad placements, then set a budget and schedule.

And you've created a cost-effective advertising campaign!

How do you set up your advertising campaigns on Instagram to get the best results?