How to Create an Instagram Ad: The Complete 2023 Guide

Instagram is one of the most influential social media platforms today, with over 2 billion monthly active users. For businesses, Instagram advertising presents a major opportunity to reach relevant audiences and achieve marketing goals.

But where do you start? With so many ad types, objectives, and optimization levers – the world of Instagram ads can feel overwhelming.

This comprehensive guide aims to demystify Instagram advertising through 2023 and beyond. You‘ll learn:

  • How to easily create Instagram ads step-by-step
  • The best ad formats and placements to use
  • Strategies for compelling ad creative
  • Advanced audience targeting options
  • How to analyze performance and optimize spend

So whether you‘re new to Instagram marketing or looking to level up your skills, read on to master the art of ad creation.

A Quick Primer on Instagram Ad Types

Instagram offers a range of ad formats, suitable for objectives ranging from brand awareness to direct-response. Let‘s briefly explain the most popular options:

Photo Ads: Single static image ads that can drive traffic or engagement. Easy to create and track.

Video Ads: Bring your product or service to life through video storytelling. Capable of up to 60 seconds of audio/visual content.

Carousel Ads: Tell a deeper brand story through a swipeable series of images/videos. Engaging and immersive.

Stories Ads: Full screen vertical ads that disappear after 24 hours. Often used for time-sensitive campaigns.

Reels Ads: Video ads shown between Reels in Instagram‘s TikTok-like video feed. Fun and eye-catching when done right.

Shopping Ads: Specially designed for ecommerce brands to showcase their product catalog directly within Instagram. Seamless path from discovery to purchase.

The ideal Instagram ad format for you depends completely on marketing objectives, product type, audience preferences and creative direction. We‘ll explore this more in the guide.

Now let‘s get hands-on with…

Step 1: Creating Your First Instagram Ad

You can create Instagram ads directly from the Instagram mobile app, Meta Business Suite, or the full-fledged Ads Manager platform. Let‘s walk through each approach:

Using the Instagram Mobile App

Creating ads via Instagram‘s iOS or Android app is great for quick campaigns using existing organic content:

  1. Tap the 3-line hamburger menu in the top right and select Ads.

  2. Choose the post/reel/story you want to boost. Tap Boost Post/Boost Reel etc.

  3. Select your campaign objective – more profile visits, website visits, or messages.

  4. Pick your target audience – location, age, interests etc.

  5. Set a daily budget and promotion duration.

  6. Review and submit for approval. Done!

💡Pro Tip: Use the Instagram app to quickly repurpose top-performing organic content into ads. Adjust targeting and budgets to amplify reach.

Via Meta Business Suite

Meta Business Suite provides a more advanced ad creation workflow while retaining Instagram‘s familiar user experience.

  1. Visit and select Ads Manager.

  2. Click the plus icon to create a new ad. Choose the post/reel you want to promote.

  3. Name your campaign, pick an objective and call-to-action.

  4. Define your target audience – get granular with locations, interests, behaviors and connections.

  5. Set a budget and schedule for your promotion.

  6. Review the ad preview and submit!

💡Pro Tip: Create an Instagram ad account separate from your personal profile to easily manage business promotions.

Using Ads Manager

For larger businesses running diverse campaigns across Meta‘s family of apps, Ads Manager is the preferredInstagram ad creation portal:

  1. Visit the Meta for Business site and select Ads Manager.

  2. Choose your overarching campaign objective – brand awareness, traffic, conversions etc.

  3. Select ad placements. For Instagram-specific ads, check Manual Placements > Instagram.

  4. Design compelling ad creative for the selected placement types.

  5. Dial in your target audiences using deep demographic, interest and behavioral filtering options.

  6. Set campaign budgets and schedules across devices.

  7. Submit your ads for review and launch!

💡Pro Tip: Use Ads Manager to seamlessly manage and optimize sophisticated, multi-channel advertising strategies.

Now that you know how to create Instagram ads, let‘s explore best practices to create the right ads.

Step 2: Crafting Compelling and Compliant Ad Creative

Your ad‘s creative makes or breaks campaign performance. Follow these tips to develop standout content:

Shoot Vertical Video

Instagram was made for mobile. Vertical video that fills the entire screen looks polished and professional:

🎥 Use a 9:16 aspect ratio for feed videos/Reels.

🎥 Try 4:5 or 9:16 for Stories.

🎥 Keep videos under 60 seconds. Shorter is often better.

Vibrant Photos Attract Attention

Avoid boring product-on-white shots. Use:

📸 Bright, contrasting colors

📸 Real people interacting with your offering

📸 Lifestyle imagery that connects with audience aspirations

📸 Clear calls-to-action

Align with Instagram‘s Creative Guidelines

Study and stick to Meta‘s rules around disclaimer text, contest regulations etc. Otherwise your ads will get repeatedly rejected or banned.

Design Multiple Ad Variants

Produce a few visual styles and copy versions for each campaign. Then A/B test to quickly hone in on what resonates best with your goals and audience.

Step 3: Picking the Right Ad Objective and Placement

Defining campaign objectives and placements upfront ensures your Instagram ads drive meaningful impact for your business.

Alignment with Business Goals

Begin by asking – what does success look like? Common objectives include:

Brand awareness: getting your product, service or cause in front of new audiences at scale.

Engagement: growing community around your brand via comments, shares, likes etc.

Website visits: driving high-intent traffic to key sites/pages/offers.

Lead generation: capturing contact details like emails or phone numbers for sales follow-up.

Catalog sales: directly selling your physical/digital products through the Instagram app.

App installs: promoting downloads of your mobile app via Instagram‘s access to 2B+ global device users.

These goals translate into tangible objectives within ad platforms:

  • Awareness → Reach, Video Views

  • Engagement → Post Reactions, Shares

  • Traffic → Link Clicks, Website Visits

  • Leads → Messages, Conversions

  • Sales → Purchases

  • App Promo → App Installs

Align objectives early so you can benchmark and optimize towards key results.

Ad Placements

While Instagram offers automatic placement across its entire ecosystem, manually selecting formats/surfaces aligned to your campaign goals is advised:

Instagram Feed: The familiar scrolling feed seen by all users. Ideal for brand building.

Stories: Full-screen vertical ads with a 24-hour lifespan. Great for time-sensitive campaigns.

Reels: Ads shown between short entertaining videos. Perfect for reaching distracted scrollers.

Explore: Ads promoted within Instagram‘s content discovery tab. Works for awareness and consideration-phase messaging.

IG Shopping: Showcase catalogs to audiences ready to purchase. Made for ecommerce.

Test placements head-to-head to determine the best avenues to reach your goals.

Now let‘s strategize your audience targeting…

Step 4: Defining Your Target Audiences and Lookalikes

One of Instagram‘s superpowers is its wealth of user data allowing precision ad targeting. Segment consumers based on:

Locations: Target ads by country, region, city type. Go global or hyperlocal.

Demographics: Dial in age, gender, language, education levels, income bands. Get ultra-specific.

Interests: Reach audiences passionate about topics like fashion, golf, gaming, parenting and more. Leverage Instagram and Facebook activity data.

Behaviors: Identify users recently searching/engaging with categories like luxury hotels, business software etc. Powerful signal for consideration phase.

Connections: Create Custom Audiences from your existing customer lists or synced Pixel data to retarget website visitors. The Holy Grail.

Lookalikes: Take Custom Audiences and have Meta expand into statistically similar potential customers. A game changer.

Apply multiple filters to narrow your universe to just fans of, say, both dog ownership and surfing with disposable incomes over $200k. That‘s precision!

Step 5: Monitoring Performance and Optimization

Investing in Instagram ads without tracking KPIs or acting upon insights is like flying blind. So let‘s equip you to stick the landing!

Analyze Metrics Relevant to Your Objective

If driving lead generation, prioritizeConversions (form entries).

For branding campaigns focus on Reach, Video Thru-Play Rate, Followers instead.

Benchmark all metrics at launch and track daily/weekly for trends.

Optimize Failing Ad Sets

Meta’s algorithms will automatically shift budget towards your top performing content/audiences/placements.

But don’t hesitated to manually pause low relevance/engagement posts or ad sets completely.

Also try raising bids for outperforming ads to accelerate their momentum.

Iterate Based on Learning

Ads Manager offers robust A/B testing capabilities to empirically determine the most impactful creative, copy, placements, budget splits etc. for driving KPIs.

Leverage these insights to rapidly produce the next round of optimized Instagram ads poised for even better results. Profit from incremental gains.

Wrapping Up

We’ve covered a ton of ground from crafting individual ads to analyzing multi-touch campaigns.

The key is matching Instagram’s uniquely immersive, mobile and shoppable ad experiences with thoughtful objectives, compelling creative and strategic data-driven optimization.

Now confidently spread your brand‘s wings and soar towards the gold standard: Delivering outstanding returns via Instagram’s unparalleled scale.

What tips do you have for maximizing results on the platform? I’d love to hear them!