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6 Retailers Driving Purchases With Stunning Instagram Ads

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.Retailers can’t afford to miss out on Instagram advertising. Ecommerce brands that advertise on the photo-sharing site see impressive returns, such as a 36% lift in return on ad spend (ROAS) or a 2.4x sales uplift in advertised products. The key to driving purchases on a primarily visual site like Instagram is high-quality creative in your ads. So how should you craft the images in your ads to draw eyeballs, clicks and purchases? Follow the lead of these six retailers who are outfitting their ads with top-notch creative.

Sony Alpha

Sometimes the most effective retail campaigns are the most subtle. Visually appealing and interesting creative can work wonders for attracting attention and the curiosity of Instagram users, who are used to organic content that tells a story. Sony uses this strategy successfully in Instagram ads for its high-end cameras. In the Carousel ad below, Sony features sweeping, stunning photographs that subtly sell the Alpha camera by showcasing the quality of pictures it can produce.

Sony Alpha Instagram Carousel Ad - Instagram for Ecommerce

Mesmerizing visuals aside, this ad works because each slide is united in a theme, and aligned to provide a continuity that Sony would not be able to accomplish if they threw a collection of unrelated photos into an ad. Because it employs high-quality images and a visual narrative, this ad is sure to attract attention and clicks on Instagram.

Blue Nile

Blue Nile keeps its Instagram ad simple in order to drive maximum impact. With a Blue Nile diamond ring as the sole focal point, audiences are guaranteed to notice the high-quality, crafted design. The stark black and white contrast of the ring box makes for a natural framing effect, and the plain white surrounding the ring means that no other design elements compete for attention, drawing eyes directly to the center of the ad. The image’s simplistic nature means that it will also stand out on Instagram news feeds, where filters and bright colors compete for user attention.

Blue Nile Diamond - Instagram for Ecommerce

The image alone is enough to sell Blue Nile’s product, but the copy also works to drive clicks. Instead of using a hard sell and blatantly telling users to buy Blue Nile rings , the copy invites users to explore the most popular rings of the week. After all, buying an item like an engagement ring usually requires intense research and consideration. Blue Nile has likely identified that the customer journey has more than one phase and avoided pushing an immediate sale accordingly.


Target sells every item imaginable, yet the online retailer recognizes that it can’t possibly cram every product into its ad campaigns. Instead of focusing on variety, Target aligns its Instagram Carousel ad with a topic that’s already popular on the site – interior decorating.

Target Style Instagram Carousel Ad - Instagram for Ecommce

Target unifies the ad above with a common theme (designer Nate Berkus’s seasonal collection) and keeps the slides focused on a single room in the house — in this case, a living room. Keeping multiple images on-theme means that Target can successfully advertise one particular style to a targeted audience, rather than take a one-size-fits-all approach that may miss the mark with a majority of Instagram users.


Instagram video ads present ecommerce companies with a big opportunity to attract new shoppers and re-engage past customers with sound and audio. Advertisers who are exploring and getting creative with this rich media format are ahead of the pack. Case in point: Chairish, an online consignment marketplace.

Chairish ecommerce instagram video ad

In the Instagram video ad above, Chairish puts the “Shop Now” call to action front and center with an incentive ($1 bids) and urgency (limited-time auction). The combination of bold colors, brisk video animations, easy to read overlay text, to-the-point copy and focus on one brand — Dwell — makes this ad extremely easy to digest on mobile. As a bonus, Instagram users who click on the autoplay ad are treated to upbeat, breezy music that aligns with the bright pinks, blues and yellows featured in the creative.


The real-time nature of social media means that news feeds are constantly filled with fresh, timely content. Consequently, brands need their social media ads to be just as relevant to the user experience — whether that’s acknowledging seasonality, location, or recent cultural events. In a nod to the new year,  Macy’s calls out Pantone’s colors for 2016, Rose Quartz and Serenity.

Macy's Instagram Link Ad - Instagram for Ecommerce

By harnessing the momentum behind a popular topic like Pantone’s color choices, this Macy’s ad becomes relevant to Instagram users who are already discussing ways to incorporate these colors into their wardrobe, cosmetic inventory — and even their weddings. This campaign also showcases a variety of products in Pantone’s color scheme, keeping the creative relevant to the ad copy. By showing off a variety of products, Macy’s  gives Instagram audiences a reason to explore its inventory, regardless of their current makeup needs.

Wedding Paper Divas

Most brands use Carousel ads to feature standalone images united by a common theme, but a few clever retailers have taken a banner ad approach to the format, creating a unified effect. In the Instagram Carousel ad below, Wedding Paper Divas produces a sweeping canvas for its wedding paper products. Each image runs over onto the next slide, creating the illusion of a continuous graphic.

Wedding Paper Divas Instagram Carousel Ad - Instagram for Ecommerce

This effect prompts users to swipe through each slide, driving to the final incentive — 25% off all products — and the “Shop Now” CTA button. On an image-based site like Instagram, visually compelling pictures go a long way, and an ad like this that literally thinks outside the box is sure to attract views, clicks and purchases with its innovative and integrated design.

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