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Instagram Ads: the complete 2023 guide to create a winning strategy


Instagram has revolutionised the marketing industry offering businesses a variety of tools and features to connect with their customers in unique and creative ways. Using reels, posts, stories, or even the Instagram shop, Instagram ads have the potential to reach 849.3 million users, driving your sales more than ever.

In this article we will delve into the best practices for Instagram ads and provide you with a comprehensive, easy-to follow-guide to create your first Instagram Ad.

What is Instagram Ads and how can it help you sell more?

Let’s go by steps. What is Instagram Ads? It is the easiest way to promote the product you are selling or the service you are offering. Instagram is an application that you can install on your mobile phone for free.

Instagram Ads are paid advertisements that businesses can target to specific groups on Instagram. They appear in various formats, such as images, videos, carousels, or collection ads, and are visible on users’ feeds or stories. 

​​With Instagram Ads marketers can set their budget, define their target audience, and monitor its performance, viewing impressions, clicks, and conversions. 

How much do Instagram Ads cost?

Instagram advertising costs vary depending on budget, competitiveness of the business industry, the time of year, the duration of the ad and its target audience. Basically, marketers decide how much they would like to spend on each ad. Therefore, knowing the demographics of your audience beforehand is crucial for investing your budget strategically. 

Businesses can choose between different budgeting options, namely a daily budget or a lifetime budget. The former allows them to limit the amount spent on their ads each day, while the latter allows them to control the amount spent over the entire duration of the campaign. With Instagram Ads Manager you can gain an overview of the potential audience you can reach with the budget that has been set.

Types of Instagram Ads

Instagram offers a variety of advertising formats to promote your services, each with its unique advantages and features. 

Image ads

Even though they are the most basic, image ads are a powerful format, especially when you have strong visual content to advertise. They are designed to convey a message through a single photograph, graphic design, or illustration. Leveraging the power of compelling visuals is a good strategy to attract your audience’s attention in a few seconds.

Instagram Ads - image ads

Meta has a few recommendations to create successful image ads, which we summarised here for you:

  1. Be consistent. Make sure that your images convey your brand’s essence, by integrating your logo, specific filters, or using your brand palette. This will make you stand out even when users are quickly scrolling through their feed and will allow you to establish a stronger presence on social media. Moreover, be consistent with your visual language to create a cohesive imagery of your brand. 
  2. Effective copywriting. When you write captions for your ads, use a tone of voice that resonates with your target audience.
  3. Take care of details. By using lighting, framing and creative angles that align with the message you are conveying, you create more interest and visual appeal around your ad. Clear, impactful images are important to present your business on Instagram, especially since they convey reliability and professionality.

Story ads

Since over 500 million Instagram users view Stories every day, Instagram Story Ads are a strong asset for marketers. These are full-screen image or video ads that appear between Instagram stories. We suggest creating them in a way that feels natural and not pushy. To convey this feeling, use Instagram Stories features like GIFs, text, stickers, interactive questions. 

Instagram Ads - Story Ads

Usually, the call-to-action (CTA) is in the form of a swipe-up link at the bottom of the screen, which directs viewers to a website or a landing page, encouraging them to make a purchase or install an app.

Video ads

Short video clips are a highly effective format for Instagram ads. With a maximum length of 60 seconds, businesses can create engaging and informative content by showcasing their products or services in action. Video ads are a powerful storytelling tool to connect with the audience on an emotional level. 


Collection ads

Collection ads combine the experience of carousel ads and shopping ads, showcasing products from your Instagram product catalogue. This mobile format is suitable for ecommerce brands, since they allow users to make purchases directly from the ad on app.

Carousel ads

Carousel ads allow businesses to display multiple products or services in a single ad post. Users can swipe right or left and have a CTA button that leads them to a website or that encourages them to take a specific action.

carousel ads instagram

Carousel ads are dynamic and allow you to showcase up to 10 products. In this way, you can tell a story more effectively and have greater creative flexibility. We suggest you create carousels using a coherent visual language, following the same theme. However, 5-6 images are usually enough, as users often skip content that is too long or repetitive.

Reels ads

Reels ads are full screen format videos, just like Stories ads, and appear between individual reels. Like traditional Reel content, people can comment, like, view, save and share your ads. To create powerful Reels you should include audio, subtitles, and text, thus making sure your content is user-friendly.

Including subtitles will make sure you communicate your message even when users’ audio is on mute. Instagram Reels are typically a fun format, which means you can focus on the lighter side of your brand, uncovering new creative ways to convey your brand identity.

instagram reels ads

How do Instagram ads work?

In this section you can find our step-by-step guide to set up your Instagram ads in no time.

There are two ways to create Instagram ads campaigns:

  1. Boosting existing content: this process can be done directly from the app and is quick and easy.
  2. Creating a new ad in the Meta Ads Manager: this process is suitable for businesses who want more control over their ads, since it includes more customizations and options than when you boost existing content.

Method 1: Instagram Post Boost

If you noticed that one of your posts is performing well, you can boost it to reach more people and amplify its success.
  • Once you have a Business Creator Account set on Instagram and your Facebook Business Page connected to your Instagram Account, you can simply click on “Boost post” to create your ad.
  • boost-post-instagram-adsSet your goal. Choose between more profile visits, more website visits, or more messages. 
  • Define your audience. You can allow Instagram to automatically choose your audience (based on your follower data) or manually define your target audience, by entering age, gender, location, interests, behaviours, etc. to create an audience that is more likely to engage with your brand.
  • Choose your budget and the duration of your ad. You can either set the number of days you wish for an ad to run or keep it going until you manually pause it.
  • Finally, review your ad and send it to Instagram for approval.

Method 2: Ads Manager

With Meta Ads Manager you can create campaigns and view detailed results of your ad performance.

You can have an overview of impressions, clicks, conversions and more, so that you can optimise and adjust targeting to improve results. 

Follow this step-by-step guide to create your Instagram ad on Facebook Ads Manager:

  • Go to Meta Ads Manager and click “Create”.
  • Choose your objective between:
    • Awareness: focus on reaching a large audience.
    • Traffic: focus on leading people to your website, Instagram Shop, or app.
    • Engagement: focus on increasing views, likes, comments and shares. 
    • Leads: focus on collecting leads for your business.
    • App promotion: focus on promoting app downloads and installs.
    • Sales: focus on driving more sales.
  • Name your campaign: to rack your campaigns effectively, we suggest naming them using the target you set for your ad. For example, if your campaign objective is to create more engagement, name it “Engagement generation campaign 2023”.
  • Set your budget and schedule by choosing between a daily budget or a lifetime budget.
  • Choose your audience: If you have collected your own audience data from your website visitors or previous campaigns that performed well, you can add them in your Saved Audience.
  • Otherwise, create a new audience targeting specific age groups, demographics interests, languages, and behaviours.
  • Choose your Instagram ad placements: here you can decide where your ads will appear. You can choose between the recommended option, with Instagram allocating your set budget across multiple placements based on where they’re more likely to perform best, or manually choose where to show your ad. If you choose to manually place your ads, make sure you optimise your visuals for every format.
  • Create a new Instagram ad: in this section you can edit your ad, choose between different ad types, add your creatives, headlines, copy, website links and CTA.
  • Click on Publish to run your ad and don’t forget to monitor your performance analytics regularly.

Tips and best practices to create successful Instagram ads

    1. Keep text concise and clear. Avoid overcrowding your ad with excessive text, since only two rows of text will be displayed in the preview. Instead, craft a compelling copy that conveys your message and attracts attention, keeping in mind that every sentence in these two rows should be impactful.
    2. The first three seconds are crucial. Try to showcase your brand’s message, product, or service in three seconds, which is the average time a user spends on a post before scrolling down. Find original ways to make people stick around.
    3. Create video ads that don’t look like promotions. Effective video ads are not explicitly selling products and don’t seem pushy. Focus on storytelling, educational or entertaining content that give value to your brand in a different way. Even though it might initially feel counterproductive, this strategy will definitely increase engagement and interest around your brand.
    4. Add captions to your videos. Remember that your Reels and videos will automatically play on mute when users are scrolling. Therefore, make sure to add captions and subtitles that attract people so that they won’t ignore your post.
    5. Explore all formats. Explore all the ad formats available on Instagram as they all have different potentials. Make sure that content and formats are aligned with your brand’s tone of voice and objectives, of course.
    6. Visuals must speak for themselves. Visuals play a critical role in the success of Instagram ads, and they should be in line with the objective of the campaign you want to create. For example, if your objective is to drive more sales, the products should be clearly displayed and in high quality, so that their benefits and features are immediately visible. Whereas, if your objective is to create more engagement, try focusing on storytelling visuals. These could be images or videos that tell a story or convey a message that resonates with the audience you are targeting, encouraging them to interact with the content you shared. 
    7. Monitor analytics. By regularly monitoring your Instagram ad analytics, you can gain a better understanding of what performs well and what doesn't. In this way, you can adjust content accordingly and optimise your campaigns to achieve better results over time.
    8. Match your ad style to the placement. Your Instagram ads should be created to match the unique viewing experience of each format. For example, vertical videos work very well on Instagram stories, whereas a 1x1 ratio may be suitable for ads that appear in the feed.
    9. When in doubt, adopt a mobile-first mindset. Design and optimise your ads for mobile viewing and create an aesthetic for your ads that feels very native to the platform, by adding Instagram stickers and fonts for example.

Inspirational Instagram ads examples​​


Instagram ads - PhotoshopWhy is it effective? This ad shows how the product works by highlighting a single and useful feature of this famous editing software. This creates interest around a product and encourages the audience to find out more about it.


Instagram ads - Uber

Why is it effective? This ad uses irony and user generated content. Creating content that users would share with their friends or that they can relate to is a powerful way to create more engagement.


Why is it effective? Rather than focusing on promoting specific products, this ad leveraged the power of visual storytelling by building positive associations with the brand and keeping it front of mind for customers.


Why is it effective? Sony took advantage of collaborative Instagram ads - in this case featuring Suki, the travelling Bengal cat with thousands of followers-, combining it with one of the most frequently asked questions related to the product they were promoting: “Does the Sony Eye AF autofocus work on animal eyes?” In this way, the image itself answered the question, while highlighting one of the camera’s main powerful features.

Interesting Instagram statistics

  • The 25-34 age group represents the largest advertising audience on Instagram.
  • 83% of consumers use Instagram to discover new products or services.
  • 130 million users click on shopping posts each month.
  • Video ads generate 3x more engagement than photos.

These statistics provide valuable insights for businesses looking to leverage the power of Instagram ads, highlighting the potential of this tool, as well as its impressive success rates.


If you're looking to expand your brand on Instagram, you should start incorporating ads into your marketing strategy. 

By consulting our step-by-step guide and our list of successful examples, you can find your own inspiration to create campaigns that match your brand’s essence and that resonate with your audience. You may also want to check The complete retail and ecommerce marketing calendar to always be on top of upcoming events, identifying key dates that align with your brand identity or that offer new opportunities to spread awareness of your products and services.

Martina Elizabeth Di Carlo

Passionate freelance copywriter, with a niche in ecommerce and logistics. When collaborating with ShippyPro, she loves writing about trends, marketing and communication strategies to help brands gain an edge in an ever-evolving digital landscape.