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The Ultimate Guide to advertise on Instagram

Written by
11 Oct, 2017


Instagram has become the go-to place for visual content marketing. From Ads to Instagram Stories, Videos and Carousels, the visual media platform is constantly introducing new formats for marketers looking for innovative ways to enhance their brand or product image.

Boasting 800 million users worldwide and two million advertisers, with higher per-post engagement rates than other social platforms, and a higher average order value than Facebook, Instagram offers the same powerful targeting tools as Facebook. This means you can target by location, demographics, interests and more while simultaneously creating custom or lookalike audiences.

Let’s have a look at the ads offered by Instagram to promote your brand or build a relationship with your followers.

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The 5 formats of Instagram Ads:

According to the Facebook study above, “Instagrammers appreciate aesthetic quality in visual content”. Instagram is all about visual sharing, where visual content, rather than text, is the primary form of interaction between brands and followers.

1. Single Photo Ads:


As Instagram is the visual social network, advertisers can build a visually compelling campaign in line with their brand identity through a simple photo. All their ads should refer to the brand, using the same color palette, photographic style, etc.

TIPS: The best photos to choose are those that show your product in use!

Have a look at the information below detailing dimensions, text limits, and everything else you need to know:

Design Recommendations


  • Width: 1200 pixels
  • Height: 628 pixels
  • Format: JPG or PNG
  • Aspect ratio: 1.9:1
  • File size: 30MB
  • Caption: 125 characters


  • Width: 1080 pixels
  • Height: 1080 pixels
  • Format: JPG or PNG
  • Aspect ratio: 1:1
  • File size: 30MB
  • Caption: 125 characters

2. Video Ads

Videos are dynamic and engaging. The moving images grab users’ attention more effectively than any other ad type and they are perceived more like regular posts. As a result, the experience is far less intrusive than other channels. Advertisers can use videos to build brand awareness, to establish a connection with customers, and to show them what they do very quickly.


TIPS: An exciting new feature is that if you run a video ad with sound, users who turn on the volume for any video on Instagram will automatically hear sound on every other video for the rest of the session. Previously, users had to activate the sound on each video individually.

Design Recommendations

  • Caption: up to 125 characters
  • Media type: video
  • Recommended video resolution: 600 x 600 pixels (square) or 600 x 315 pixels (landscape)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1:1 (square) or 1.9:1 (landscape)
  • Minimum resolution: 600 x 600 pixels
  • Maximum resolution: 1080 x 1080 pixels
  • Minimum length: 3 seconds
  • Maximum length: 60 seconds
  • Maximum size: 4GB
  • Frame rate: 30fps max
  • File type: .mp4 container
  • Video: H.264 video compression, high profile preferred, square pixels, fixed frame rate, progressive scan
  • Audio: Stereo AAC audio compression, 128kbps + preferred

3. Carousel Ads

Carousel ads offer advertisers a way to showcase multiple photos and videos with a call to action button in a single ad unit. This format can contain up to ten elements consisting of videos and photos, with videos capped at 60 seconds. The carousel, however, offers the opportunity of having "more flexibility" in the storytelling by allowing viewers to swipe left to see additional images with a link to a website of the advertiser’s choice.

According to Facebook, compared to other advertising efforts, the carousel format drives 3X more conversions and 85% better click-through rates.


TIPS: The first image in a Carousel should grab your attention immediately.  Anything involving a step-by-step demonstration is perfect for carousel ads.

Design Recommendations

  • Image size: 1080 x 1080 pixels
  • Caption: Text only, 125 characters recommended
  • Minimum number of cards: 2
  • Maximum number of cards: 10
  • Image ratio: 1:1
  • Minimum resolution: 600 x 600 pixels
  • File type: .jpg or .png
  • Maximum size: 30MB per image
  • Your image should include minimal text. See how the amount of text in your ad image will impact the reach of your ad.
  • Caption: Text only, max 2,200 characters

4. Ads in Instagram Stories

Launched earlier in 2017, Ads in Instagram Stories were designed to be projected in between other Instagram Stories. The feature allows advertisers to select Instagram Stories as an ad placement. Instagram Stories Ads are a powerful and immersive advertising experience.  

The full screen experience and the fact that 70% of viewers watch stories with the sound on, offers the opportunity for brand immersion.

TIPS: When you are creating your ad, make sure you choose a relevant CTA button. It can have a big impact on whether viewers actually visit your website, sign-up, or convert.

Design Recommendations

  • Format: Full screen vertical ad (9:16)
  • Recommended Resolution: 1080 x 1920
  • Minimum Resolution: 600 x 1067
  • File Types: .mp4 or .mov (Video) or .jpg or .png (Photo)
  • Recommended Video Codecs: h.264, VP8
  • Recommended Audio Codecs: AAC, Vorbis
  • Maximum File Size: 4GB (Video) or 30MB (Photo)
  • Video Length: Maximum 15 seconds
  • Photo Content: Visible for 3 seconds

5. Canvas

The Canvas ad format on Instagram has recently been released by Facebook on Instagram Stories. Canvas enables you to provide full-screen and in-line videos that play automatically. There are photo carousels and panoramic photos that users can swipe or tilt around to see more, as well as text and links.

The main difference between Instagram Story ads and Canvas ads is in the appearance. Story ads are clearly ads, while Canvas ads look more like apps to viewers.

TIPS: Be creative! Canvas is the best format for brands seeking to encouragr new audiencesto discover their products. This ad format is full of creative possibilities. It enables you to tell your brand story, to go into detail on the description of your products. It’s very interactive, not to mention being one of the most interesting formats visually.

Instagram objectives:

Instagram uses the same powerful advertising tools as Facebook; you can set up, run and track campaigns the same way you do with Facebook ads. From sparking inspiration, to driving action, you can get the most desirable customers and business results.


App Install: An “App Install” objective is mainly used to increase downloads for business and individual apps. When users click on ‘call to action’ buttons, they are taken to the App Store or Google Store, where they can directly download the app.

Brand Awareness: Brand awareness optimization is designed to help advertisers find the audiences most likely to recall their ads. By analyzing hundreds of brand campaigns we found that the longer someone spends on  an ad, the more likely they are to remember what they’ve seen.

Traffic: Send people to important sections of your website.

Reach: Reach people near your business and drive them into your store.

Engagement: Get consumers to engage with your Instagram ad. Engagement can include likes and comments on your ad.

Video Views: Tell a story using a video in your ad.

Conversion: Optimize your ad to get people to take specific actions on your website, such as signing up for a newsletter or buying a product.

Lead Generation: Lead ads on Instagram help you collect info from people interested in your business.

If you want to level up you Instagram Ads Campaign, just reach out to our Experts team!

Want to level up your Instagram Ads Campaign? Try Out MakeMeReach

About Anne Tirmont Marketing and Communication Manager, Anne, never ceases to amaze the team at MakeMeReach. Despite organising various events for our clients all over the world, she still finds the time to write some inspired blogposts on the most exciting social ad tech news.

All posts by Anne Tirmont