How to Create Your First Instagram Ad

Arielle Kushner
By Arielle Kushner
August 6, 2019 · 8 min read

Utilizing Instagram to advertise your business is one of the smartest moves you can make. Over one billion people use Instagram every month – that’s an enormous audience to be interacting with, and one that can be targeted and customized to fit your business’ needs. 

As an increasingly influential social media platform, advertising on Instagram can help you achieve greater brand awareness, engagement, and overall conversions.

Learning how to create an Instagram ad is pretty simple. Facebook and Instagram use the same dashboard for setting up and deploying ads, so if you have any experience running ads on your company Facebook page, you’re already in a great position. If you’ve never set up a Facebook ad, it’s still pretty intuitive. While they are both set up on the Facebook Ads Manager, there are a few small differences.

Select “Create ad” and you’re ready to get started. 

Choose your goal

When making an Instagram ad for your business, it’s important to remember that the vast majority of viewers will be seeing your ads on mobile. Consider how your images or videos and messaging will look on a mobile device compared to a desktop.

You’ll be able to select from multiple beneficial ad objectives including:

Brand Awareness – Getting your brand and content seen by people likely to interact with your brand.

Reach – Getting your brand and content seen by as many people as possible.

Traffic – Sending people to your website, product page, or app store.

Engagement Likes, shares, or reactions that draw attention to the ad and cause others to interact with it.

Video Views – This objective is only relevant if you are running video ads (and you should be!) The goal is to see exactly how many people view and play your content.

Lead Generation Building interest in a business by allowing your audience to fill out a form with their contact information.

Select your target audience

Facebook gives you a lot of advanced targeting options here when it comes to shaping your ad’s optimal target audience.

You can select from:

Custom audience – This option allows you to target people based on customer data you have on hand or can easily get. For instance, you can target people who have interacted with your website before by responding to a call to action, or an audience group you have previously configured in another ad. 

Lookalike audience – This option allows you to segment users whose demographics and interests are similar to those of your existing followers. Facebook targets them because they have similar likes and interests to what your ad content is promoting. It’s a great way to expand your reach and acquire interested followers you might not have connected with otherwise.

Additionally, with location targeting, you can choose to target people within a specific geographical location by selecting a city, state, and mile radius.

Choose your ad placement

Now it’s time to assign a place for your ad to be displayed, and this is where there’s a slight difference between setting up a Facebook ad and setting up an Instagram ad. You already know you want your ad to be displayed on audience Instagram feeds and as Instagram Stories ads.

So all you need to do is go to the placements section in the ad set level, and choose Instagram as a platform. Here you can also select the Instagram Feed as well as Stories.

The Instagram Feed is the normal homepage where users scroll and view posts or ads of the accounts they are following. Instagram Stories is a feature that lets accounts display their content in a slideshow format, available for only 24 hours. This feature is a bit more interactive because you can react with emojis and direct messages.

Both the Instagram Feed as well as Instagram Stories are effective places for your ad to reside, however, Stories tend to play to a younger audience so it depends on the demographic of who you are targeting. The good news is, it’s simple to select both in the ad placements section of the Ads Manager.

Set your budget

You’re well on your way to having a killer Instagram ad and now is the point when you need to put a bit of money into it. In the Facebook Ads Manager, you can set your budget and ad schedule at the same time. This is convenient because it allows you to easily break down how much you want to spend on your daily budget (per day of your campaign,) as well as the lifetime budget of your ad. If you choose the lifetime budget option, Facebook will decide how to best spend your budget throughout the duration of your ad campaign. 

Keep an eye on the Estimated Daily Reach displayed to the right of the budget section. This tool anticipates how your ad or ad campaign is expected to perform over your scheduled time period. 

As you choose your start and end dates, you can select specific days or dayparts for your ads to run. Depending on what kind of business you have and who your target audience is, it may be beneficial to schedule your ads at a certain optimal time of day (think morning versus night), or to avoid middle-of-the-night hours when there are less active users and engagement, altogether.

Choose your ad format

Throughout the ad building process, this is where you get to be the most thoughtful with your ad creative. Putting some of the more technical requirements of your ad campaign aside, you can consider the right messaging you want your audience to experience, as well as what type of ad it should be displayed in.

Instagram has a handful of sleek ad types for you to consider, including the standard photo ad, video ad, Stories ads, and carousel ads.  

Photo ads – These are the standard singular photos displayed in an ad show up in the viewer’s news feed. 

Video ads – Arguably the most effective and useful type of Instagram ad, these videos play as you scroll over them in the news feed. 

Stories ads – Displayed in the popular Instagram Stories feature, these ads are growing in popularity and require the same specs as a regular video.

Carousel ads – A collection of images or videos that viewers can swipe through, these ads are just like Facebook’s carousel ads. They also show up in the user’s news feed. 

Example of carousel ads on Instagram

Whether you choose to create an Instagram stories ad, carousel ads, or regular video ads, video is always a better choice when compared to a single image ad. In fact, video produces the highest click through rates when compared to other ad formats. Video ads get your audience’s attention faster, hold it longer, and compel them to engage far more than image ads do. 

When it comes to creating the video itself,’s intuitive platform and editor make Instagram marketing even more simplified. There are loads of ready-designed professional templates available. Just customize, add your text and logo, and go!

When you finish creating your Instagram video ad with, simply download it and post it proudly to Instagram.

Now what?

Should you go with a single ad or ad campaign?

As a new Instagram advertising superstar, you’ve got it down. You can create a sponsored ad on Instagram, you know how to create an Instagram story ad, and you’ve learned to target just the right audience for each. But these single ads will eventually limit you. 

As you get more seasoned building ads and monitoring their results, you should venture into creating ad campaigns (of multiple ads) to help you see more long term patterns of your efforts.  This will help you make smarter tweaks and adjustments as you move forward.

Monitor your ads

A full ad campaign will give you the information and performance statistics you need to properly monitor and analyze your work. Compare the performance of ads at the end of your campaign to your original ad to see where you can make any adjustments. Maybe your target audience will have to be redefined a bit, or your budget should be adjusted to improve your cost-per-click. 

The Facebook Pixel is a useful tool that can help you collect and track this kind of information from ads you’re running. Using a special code that you insert into your company site or landing page of your choosing,  you can track your ad performance, optimize to improve your ads, track how many conversions you’re getting, and refine your ad targeting when needed. Learning how to properly monitor your ads will help your campaigns stay relevant and avoid ad fatigue, as well as continue to redefine success metrics.

Set it all in motion

Use these steps to help you shape your Instagram marketing strategy and get ahead of the game. Creating your first ad on Instagram doesn’t have to be intimidating; it’s actually a great learning process that can help you see tangible results and truly understand how to get more eyes on your business.

So get practicing and experience how Instagram video ads can continue to improve your campaigns. 

Create beautiful Instagram video ads for your business with 


About the author

Arielle Kushner

Creative Marketer.

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