How to Run Instagram Ads Successfully?

Instagram Ads

With an active user base of roughly 928 million users, it’s not a wonder why Instagram has now become such a widely popular platform for social marketing. After Instagram was acquired by Facebook in 2012, they have had access to Facebook’s resources which allowed them to promote themselves as a social media platform worth investing in for social marketing alongside Facebook.

Fast forward to today and we now see Instagram overtaking Facebook in terms of both popularity and number of users. Instagram ads is now a prominent option for social marketers as it has been shown to work quite well. It’s time to know how to run Instagram ads.

According to Instagram themselves, a study back in 2017 has shown that 60 percent of people have expressed that they have found new products through this platform. Not only that, almost 75 percent of people take action after they see something they’re interested in, directly through the ads. 

As a result, if brand exposure is what you need, Instagram stands out as a really good option as it also lets you control who gets to see your post so that you can reach your target demographic better. One thing to keep in mind that, despite being owned by Facebook, Instagram is more leaning toward a younger audience.

Around 55 percent of its user base is aged lower than 30. People in the range of 30 to 50 consist of 28 percent. The rest are aged over 50 with only 4 percent over 65. So, if your target demographic is older people specifically, Instagram may not bring you the brand exposure and results you are hoping for.

However, just because its user base does not suit your needs, you should not dispose of it as an option as Instagram allows you to pick your target demographic within their audience when advertising. You just have to set your expectations accordingly.

What are Instagram Ads and how much do they cost?

how to run instagram ads

Instagram ads are posts and stories that businesses and brands pay to appear in people’s Instagram feeds. They are just like any other posts in your feed except they will have a “Sponsored” label written under their name. 

As for how much an ads cost, there is no straight answer. To determine this, Instagram uses a CPC (Cost per click) and CPM (Cost per impression) model. There are also several other factors involved such as ad placement, ad format, time of year, demographic targeting, etc. According to AdEspresso, the average cost per click is around 0.70$ to 1.20$ depending on these factors. 

AD Types

Each format has different goals and options available to them. Businesses and brands first design a social media marketing strategy based on their goals. Then they choose the ad format that goes best with them and rolls with it.

The ads can be tracked through their “Instagram Insights” option. There are also options to tweak and test ads over time. These various types must be selected according to your marketing strategy as well as Instagram’s objective settings (which will be explained below).

How to advertise?

As for the advertising process itself, there’s not much to learn. It’s all very straight forward, especially if one is familiar with Facebook’s advertising process. Instagram uses Facebook’s demographic data and history for its service, and since they are both owned by the same company the process is fairly similar.

1. Right from the app

The easiest option for Instagram advertisement happens to be straight from the official app itself. This kind of works the same way as Facebook’s “Boost Post” option. Simply having a profile and uploading posts and stories is the route most small businesses use as a means of starting brand promotion. Larger brands are also doing the same whenever there’s a post that’s performing well in advertising. Business accounts work pretty much the same as regular accounts so there’s no learning curve there. And opening an account is also very straightforward.

Connecting your Instagram page to your Facebook business page also helps quite a bit. If you don’t have one or the other, it’s a good idea to open one now. After that, all that’s left is to choose who you want to see your ads, how much you can spend, and how long you want to run the ad and you’re good to go. 

2. Using Facebook Ads Manager

Instagram Ads

As both platforms share the same parent company, the advertising tools for both are also well integrated. So, it’s fairly easy and convenient to design ads for both platforms using the same tools. The ads manager also contains audience customization, monitoring, and other main features. Here’s a step by step explanation of how to create an ad using the Ads Manager.

i. Choosing an Objective

Inside ads manager first you have to click the highlighted create button. There, you will be welcomed with two options for creating ads. One is the guided creation option for new marketers which guides you through the typical steps in ads creation and management.

The second is the quick creation option that appears with a dedicated button when you select the “Create New Campaign” option. This is for the people who have created an ad before and thus have experience in it. In this article, we will discuss the guided creation option. 

The first thing that you will need is to set your marketing objective. If you have a social marketing business strategy already set up then you’ll already know what to select. But in any case, here’s a brief rundown of each option in that list:

Brand Awareness: This is the most standard goal, as well as the one most people, are usually interested in. How this goal is maintained is an Instagram secret but what it does is introduce your brand to newer folks. 

Reach: Reach is the option to increase the headcount of how many people view your posts. It should also be noted that Reach is the only option for Instagram story ads as of now. A benefit of this goal option is being able to utilize Facebook’s “Split Testing Feature” which allows a user to split an ad into two ads and see which one yields better results. 

Traffic: This goal is for people to be directed to your website, app, or any URL of your choosing. 

Engagement: This goal is for higher total engagement such as more likes, shares, comments, etc. However, while Facebook lets users pay additionally for “Page Engagement” and “Event Responses” along with its existing “Post Engagement”, Instagram does not have this feature yet. 

App Installs: Basically, a goal option targeted towards app developers and app stores.

Video Views: For those who want to upload video ads specifically. Videos have been proven to yield better results than static images in many cases. This goal is one of the easier ones with no additional steps. 

Lead Generation: This goal is for gathering lead data from users who click on the ads. Currently, Instagram can only manage the full name, gender, email, and phone number. You will need to create a lead form to create an ad with this goal. 

Conversions: This goal is for your ad clickers to convert to your website, app, or business. It requires you to configure a Facebook pixel or app event based on what you are trying to promote.

Messages: This gets users to send messages to your brand account on Instagram.

Catalog sales: This allows you to promote a specific product/product from your online business catalog.

Store Traffic: This gets your users to directly visit your physical business location.

Once you’re done selecting your objectives, you’ll need a name for your campaign. You can skip this process; in which case the default name will be whatever you chose from the objectives list. But it’s advised that you choose a unique name to help you keep track of your campaigns.

ii. Targeting Audience

Instagram Ads

The next step is to choose your target audience. Instagram has access to Facebook’s demographic data and tools. The list of options you’ll have are –

  • Locations: targeting a specific place, region, city, country, or even a zip code among other things.
  • Age: Let’s you set an age range
  • Gender: Men, Women, or both.
  • Languages: recommended to be set as blank unless your choice of location matches the language.
  • Demographics: a set of categories with more subcategories within them to customize your target audience choice.
  • Interests: Targets people with specific interests.
  • Behaviors: Targets based on users’ behavioral patterns.
  • Connections: Targets People connected to your page, app, or business.
  • Custom Audience: Lets you select your list of people as an audience. Usually used in events.
  • Lookalike Audience: Target users with the same traits as your custom audience.

Once you’re done with this step, the ads manager will show you a gauge and several potential people the ads can reach.

3. Ad Placement

In this step, you will be given a choice of where you want your ads to be shown. Automatic Placement will let the Ads Manager do this step for you. But if you want to be more precise, you can always choose the manual placement and configure where you want your ads to be placed such as Instagram stories, feed, etc.

4. Budget

This step lets you choose how much you want to spend on your ad and how long it will run. You can set a daily budget or a lifetime budget from here. You can also choose to run your ads continuously or target a specific time of day.

5. Ads creation

Finally, it’s time to create your Instagram ads. It’s all very straightforward from here. Just pick a format, upload your ad, pick a payment option, and hit confirm. 


A good ad is an art, not science. As long as you know your audience and design ads that help you stand out, Instagram marketing will help you and your business shine brighter than your competitors.