How to measure the results of Instagram ads

The Complete Guide: Instagram Ads

At the end of September 2015, after a lot of tests and some user protests, Facebook and Instagram officially launched the ads within Instagram. Since then, the format has not only been further developed, but has also been used successfully by many companies. We'll be in this post for you guys summarize the advertising opportunities on Instagramand show you how you can create and optimize ads for Instagram.

To do this, we answer these questions:


There are three prerequisites for the best possible Instagram campaign:

  1. An Instagram account
  2. A Facebook page
  3. A connection between Instagram account and page

You can meet the third requirement yourself relatively quickly. Go to the settings on your Facebook page and select the item "Instagram advertisements". After entering the username and password, both accounts are linked.

If you use the Business Manager, it is advisable to add the Instagram account there and link it to the corresponding advertising account.

Possible campaign goals

Facebook and Instagram ad formats are very much based on the concept of target achievement known from Facebook. If you create a new campaign, you first have to choose the target. The following goals allow ads to be played on Instagram:

  • Post interaction = Likes & comments for your Instagram posts
  • Brand awareness = As wide a reach as possible for your content
  • Website clicks = Clicks on the website
  • App installations = Installations for the stored app
  • Video views = high reach and views for posted videos
  • Website conversion = if you use the Facebook Pixel then you can optimize for a "conversion", for example sold products or newsletter registrations
  • Product catalogs = among other things, the automatic promotion of the products in your shop. We report here in detail about the setup required for “Dynamic Product Ads”.

Here again as a graphic:

So there is no such thing as the classic “Instagram ad”. Rather, it is a channel in which a defined goal can be achieved. The format of the ad depends entirely on your goal.

And what about building followers?

In contrast to Facebook pages, there is no format on Instagram with which you can specifically build new followers for an account. That Instagram does not offer this seems to be a conscious decision, as the implementation would be possible. At this point, Instagram still protects old community values ​​and relies on the fact that the relevant accounts can be found by rummaging through the platform.

The sometimes invoked "hack" of simply placing a link-click ad on the Instagram profile URL does not work in our experience. The profile then opens in the external browser, where the user must first register for a follow, which he usually does not do. In addition, there are no ways to accurately measure the success of such a campaign. All in all, an idea that is not to be recommended.

If you want to gain new followers, you should achieve this with good content and images, especially in your regular ads. Because of course new followers are a desired side effect of Instagram ads.

Format specifications for Instagram ads

Instagram and Facebook have now developed clear guidelines for creating Instagram ads. These can be read, for example, in the Facebook Ads Guide.

Decisive for you should be:

  • Image format: 1: 1 (recommended), 1.9: 1 (possible)
  • Preferred image size: 1080 x 1080 pixels
  • Maximum image file size: 30 MB
  • File format: JPG or PNG
  • Text length: 125 characters (recommended), 2200 characters (maximum)

Your designers and copywriters should get along well with these guidelines. If you have a longer text, the decisive message must be in the first 125 characters, because only these are visible without a click. Please keep in mind the use of meaningful hashtags in the campaign context, especially with this format.

Up to five images can be displayed in the carousel ad format. However, these images have to be square.

In addition to image ads, video ads between 3 and 60 seconds in length can also be displayed on Instagram. For the very extensive specifications for videos, we would now like to refer you to the official advertising guide.

From our point of view, it is important, in addition to the technical specifications, that the advertising material is produced or adapted for the Instagram format. The square format is always preferable to the landscape format. In the case of videos in particular, this also necessarily means production for this format. It is quite possible that Instagram will also allow vertical videos in the future.

Call to Action

Instagram ads must be provided with a call to action. Facebook provides this as a button below the picture. In addition to clicking on the image, the call to action is the only way to redirect the user to the website. This is currently a big difference to the normal formats on Instagram. There you cannot set any links and only refer to the URL in your profile.

When creating an advertisement, you can choose between the following prompts:

  • Book now
  • Contact us
  • Download
  • More on this
  • Shopping now
  • to register
  • See more
  • Apply now

We recommend carrying out an A / B test where possible when prompting for action. The request that matches the goal, such as “Buy now”, is tested against the more neutral “More about” variant. It has been shown that in some cases the neutral variant achieved better conversion rates.

Link Targets

Like all ads in the Facebook system, the URLs to which an Instagram ad is linked are of course subject to special requirements. Much of this is self-evident and can be read in the advertising policies:

  • It must be a "working" landing page that does not prevent the user from leaving the page
  • No spy or malware may be spread through this site
  • It cannot be clickbait content

In addition, there is an absolute no-go for Instagram ads: landing pages that have not been optimized for mobile devices. Although this is not in the guidelines, it should come first in the campaign planning.

The ad placement

The placement of the ad hardly differs from the procedure for other Facebook campaigns and we don't want to go into too much depth here. It is only important that in the second step, i.e. when selecting the target group, placement and duration, you make sure that you only choose the Instagram placement. To do this, you have to switch from "Automatic Placement" to "Edit Placement" and then deselect the corresponding unsuitable options.

In our opinion, the isolated placement of Instagram ads is always the better option for a successful campaign, as the requirements for image and text material differ so greatly from classic Facebook advertising media that cross-platform communication is hardly possible. Of course, this can not always be worthwhile, especially with small campaigns, here you just have to estimate the effort yourself and decide whether you simply book Instagram if necessary.

What happens after that?

It is often overlooked that an advertisement still needs support after it has been placed online. Because the ads have the normal Instagram elements, users can of course also interact with them. Both in the form of likes and comments. And this is precisely where there is a certain danger, as advertisements in community management are often overlooked.

We recommend opening the corresponding Instagram account in the desktop browser and using the notifications there to keep an eye on the comments. In addition to a response to the user, an inappropriate comment can also be completely deleted here.

Nothing is worse than a campaign that blows out the negative and unanswered comments from users with a large media budget.

View evaluation

We would like to urge you to not just let the ads run, but also to measure and check them and their performance. The easiest way to do this is in the Facebook ad manager on the desktop computer.

There you have an overview of the selected target groups as well as A / B tests in the ad design. So if you have used different texts and visuals, you get the opportunity to see which combination works best.

In this way, of course, the results can not only be viewed at the end of the campaign, but also during runtime. In this way, individual ads as well as entire ad groups can be switched off at an early stage and the budget can be reallocated to better ad groups or other campaigns.

In this context, it is of course important to know in advance what your own limit per action is. So how much is a website click or an interaction or whatever worth to me.

Anyone who opts for external tracking, something through Google Analytics, should take this into account when creating the advertisement. Because then you have to use a corresponding campaign URL as the target URL. Otherwise you will not be able to measure the mobile ad traffic sufficiently or not at all.

Ad placement from within the Instagram app

As an alternative to the procedure described here, it is also possible to create an ad directly in the Instagram app. To do this, however, you first have to convert your account to an Instagram Business Account. Since the range of functions for this ad placement is limited, we will not go into further detail here but recommend using the ad manager or power editor.

Do you still have questions about Instagram ads? Just write us in the comments and we will fill in the missing information.

Image credits:Instagram Apps View Screenshots @