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What Marketers Need To Know To Get Started With Instagram Advertising

Written by: Carolyn Berk, Content Marketing Associate

Note: The brands featured herein are meant to serve as compelling examples, and are not Nanigans customers unless expressly noted.

In today’s direct response-focused digital marketing environment, brands can’t afford to ignore Instagram’s advertising capabilities. Despite its newcomer status on the paid advertising scene, companies are already seeing amazing revenue from this photo sharing platform. In fact, a large ecommerce company using Nanigans software was able to achieve a 179% return on ad spend, while another online retailer saw a 219% increase in purchase rates thanks to Instagram.

Results like this are within online marketers’ reach as long as they employ strategies that resonate especially well on mobile-based, visually focused sites like Instagram. With that in mind, here are just a few best practices that digital professionals need to know in order to start building a foundation for their own Instagram advertising success.

Instagram Is Global, Young & Growing

Instagram boasts over 400 million monthly active users, 75% of whom are located outside the United States. While this large, international audience is composed of a hodgepodge of demographics, the platform is particularly popular with young people. In fact, a study by Pew Research Center found that 52% of all teens use the platform. Here’s the breakdown:


13-14 years old

15-17 years old

Instagram’s user base is also primarily young and under 40:

18-29 years old

30-48 years old


Creative Best Practices For Instagram Ad Units

Instagram offers several types of ads, all of which can include direct response elements like a call-to-action (CTA) button. Whether you’re using Mobile App Install (MAI) ads, link ads, carousel ads or video ads, employing Instagram creative best practices will help your ads attract more eyeballs and drive more clicks. Be sure to consider elements like:

  • Lighting & Details: Your ad’s pictures should be high quality, not grainy or blurry from being resized. When taking your pictures, use natural light instead of harsh, artificial lighting from overhead sources.

Lighting and Details - Instagram Ad Creative Best Practices

  • Subtle Branding: Don’t let your brand overshadow your content. If you’ll be including your logo in your Instagram ad, incorporate it subtly, or focus on an iconic brand element or color instead.

Brand - Instagram Ads Creative Best Practices

  • Minimal Text: It’s usually best to share accompanying text in the body of your ad instead of over the image — but if you do use text overlay, make sure it covers less than 20% of the photo.

Text - Instagram Ad Creative Best Practices

  • Classic Composition: Photo composition basics apply to Instagram ads too! Use techniques like the rule of thirds, symmetry or a focal point in your ad’s image. Also, avoid adding borders to your image, as they’ll only distract viewers.

Composition - Instagram Ad Best Practices

Once you’ve found creative that works for your ads, be sure to switch it up in order to avoid ad fatigue. Refreshing your ads frequently keeps your audience from getting bored and will help you to continue driving clicks.

Scaling Instagram Advertising Success

Once you’ve found success with Instagram ads, you’ll want to expand on it — and grow your campaigns in a sustainable way. These resources can help you efficiently scale your results:

  • Cohort Analysis: This powerful tool breaks up data of common characteristics or experiences in related advertising segments and visualizes the data so you can easily identify patterns across the lifecycle of a customer.
  • Creative Testing: An automated tool that compares Instagram ad performance and determines which image and copy combinations are best suited to drive your desired results. The result? You can feel confident that the most successful ads are receiving the bulk of your budget.
  • Stop Loss: This tool monitors each individual ad in your campaign and automatically pauses ads that are underperforming — ensuring that you’re not exceeding your target CPA and are meeting your yield goal.
  • Custom Audiences & Lookalike Audiences: Together, these two resources take the guesswork out of scaling user acquisition and retention on a newer channel like Instagram. Use Custom Audiences and Lookalike Audiences to re-engage inactive customers, or attract new high-value purchasers based on your best and most loyal customers on Facebook.

Instagram Advertising: The Performance Marketer’s Guide to Finding and Scaling SuccessFree Guide: Find & Scale Instagram Advertising Success

Learn the creative best practices and advertising insights you need to drive revenue for your business on Instagram.

Get the Instagram Advertising Guide

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