When Instagram announced the release of full-screen, vertical story ads this March, advertisers had reason to be excited. Story ads represented an alternative to News Feed ads—which, though still effective, had lost a bit of novelty. They’d also grown way more competitive:
Image via Statista
In September of last year, Instagram’s 2 million monthly active advertisers (up from 1 million in March ‘17, and just 0.2 million in Feb ‘16) were all limited to News Feed. Story ads were not only a new placement, but an enticing one. Advertisers suddenly had access to a super immersive format—the same format future Instagram TV advertisers can expect, when that platform is ultimately monetized:
Full-screen. Vertical. Immersive. 400 million Instagram accounts—businesses and everyday consumers alike—leverage Stories to keep their followers apprised of their goings-on. Story ads give advertisers coveted access to that audience pool. The results, which we’ll get into, have been encouraging. They also bode well for Facebook Story ads, which are set to drop imminently.
Today, we’re going to give you the full skinny—how Instagram Stories work, how to set them up, and how to leverage them in conjunction with your existing News Feed ads to increase return on ad spend.
What are Instagram Story Ads?
Instagram Story Ads exist within Instagram Stories, which exist atop your News Feed. Naturally Instagram Stories themselves are also full-screen and vertical—so when you watch them, all you see on your mobile device is the content itself. When one Story ends—by way of it simply ending or you manually swiping through—the next one begins. In this way, once you are in the format, it super easy to access a continuous stream of full-screen content.
Story ads exist as dividers between Stories themselves—but, like News Feed ads, it’s difficult to tell them apart from the rest of the organic content within the format:
Aside from the “Sponsored” denotation, and, presumably, an increase in production value, they look just like organic posts. As you’ll also notice in the above image, Story ads give you the ability to link within your post—which, in the world of organic posts, is a function reserved for accounts that are either verified or have more 10,000 followers.
To access your post link, users need merely swipe up on your CTA arrow, at which point they’ll be taken to your landing page. If this is functionality you’re interested in—if you want to send prospects to your product page, to your blog, or to a lead form—you were at one time limited to the four of the six marketing objectives for which Story ads were available. There are now seven objectives for which Instagram Story ads are available (Brand Awareness was added recently), and you can add CTA links to any of them: