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How to Create Effective Instagram Video Ads for Your Business

If you think Instagram was just for sharing pictures, think again. The social media platform has various video formats to meet social and marketing trends. From short-form Instagram Stories to long-format in-feed videos, brands can leverage a powerful marketing tool on the world’s fourth most popular social network.

Video content production and consumption are exploding on Instagram. According to Meta’s Q3 2022 earnings release, Instagram Reels grew by 50% to 140 billion video views and shares. Here are seven tips for creating Instagram video ads that deliver on your promotional and business goals.

1. Know Your Audience

You should create a buyer persona if you don’t have one. Buyer personas are fictional but are data-driven characterizations of your target customer.

You already know a few things about your target audience since your business has a product or service with them in mind. But how well do you know them beyond pain points and price ranges?

Conducting audience research and developing comprehensive customer profiles helps you understand their motivations and purchasing behaviors. You will be able to answer the following questions:

  • What type of video content does the customer like?
  • What are the customer’s interests and values?
  • What tone or language should you use?

When you understand your customer, you can create organic content that resonates with them.

Persona sample
For example, here's a business-to-customer (B2C) persona for a real estate business (source).

Using the data collected on the profile, the realtor can create family-oriented content around economic security and work/life balance.

If you are a business-to-business (B2B) company, you should build more than one buyer persona since this sales process involves multiple decision-makers.

2. Choose the Right Video Format

Instagram offers four video ad formats: in-feed, Stories, Reels, and Live. Each configuration is different, impacting the type of content you choose to share.

Let’s break them down.

  • In-feed videos look and function like regular image posts with engagement features like comment, share, and like. They appear on users’ feeds and can run up to 60 minutes long.
  • Instagram Stories appear in the Stories section of the app. They use a full-screen, vertical video format and disappear after 24 hours. It’s one of the few places on Instagram you can post a direct link.
  • Instagram Reels is the newest format addition to the app. They are full-screen videos with the same user engagement features as regular posts. You can find these videos on your Reels sections, the Instagram Explore page, and customers' feeds.
  • Instagram Live allows users to create real-time videos in the app. Only your followers can view your Live streams.

Certain ad content is better suited for a specific format. For example, interactive campaigns where customers choose the next flavor of a potato chip work well in an Instagram Story. The format has polling and quizzing stickers, facilitating active and fun participation. You can also customize how long Stories ads can run so they don’t disappear after hours.

Instagram’s video formats also have different video length limits. Video posts have a 60-minute limit with a 60-second preview on the feed. Instagram Reels are a minute long, Stories are 15-second videos, and Instagram Live has a four-hour limit.

But just because you can post a five-minute ad doesn’t mean you should. Decreasing attention spans means you have a small window to catch and keep people’s attention. According to a Facebook study, you must deliver value in the first three to ten seconds. So, make your videos short and to the point.

Whichever format you choose, your ads should feel like organic posts to be effective.

3. Focus on Storytelling

Storytelling is a powerful marketing strategy to capture customers’ attention, boost loyalty, and stand out from your competitors. Emotional narratives are a surefire way to build your brand using social media by creating deep connections with target audiences.

So, what kind of stories should you tell? Brands like TOMS shoes have stories around their inception. You can create stories around your brand values, company culture, or customers if you don’t have an inception story.

For example – This in-feed ad tells the story of how the brand makes knitted shoes, giving viewers insight into the company’s values and craftsmanship (source).

Brand storytelling isn’t a sales pitch. Like conventional storytelling, brand stories must showcase the essential elements of a good narrative: characters, setting, conflict, and resolution. You can weave your brand into the story but don’t focus on a product.

4. Use Eye-Catching Visuals

We’ve already seen that you have three seconds to catch people’s attention and stop them from scrolling past your ad. The only way to do this is with eye-catching visuals.

Appealing visuals make the difference in whether people view your content or not. So, here’s what you should do.

  • Use bright colors: Bright and high-contrast colors stand out, quickly attracting our attention. Be sure to incorporate your brand colors to improve brand recognition.
  • Reduce visual clutter: A shock and awe approach doesn’t work well for social media ads. Mobile screens are small, and bombarding viewers with many visual elements distracts them from the product.
  • Center your product: For your three seconds to count, viewers must be able to identify your product. With your product front and center, they leave with an impression of it even if they don’t watch the full video.
  • Add captions that pop: Onscreen captions are part of the video experience. Your choice of words, fonts, and font colors help communicate your message with or without video sound and can increase view time by 12%.
  • Brand consistency: Instagram ads don’t last forever. However, a consistent visual brand identity helps connect your ads to your company, increasing brand awareness.
This Stories ad incorporates many of the elements we discussed: High-contrasting brand colors, on-screen captions that pop, and low visual clutter. It also shows the product (soup) in the center within the first three seconds (Source).

Technical requirements for visually appealing videos include filming content vertically to match the natural orientation of smartphones, high-definition resolution, MOV format, and a maximum video size of 4GB.

5. Include a Clear Call-to-Action

Whether your video marketing goal is to drive app installs, expand email lists, or sell products, the call to action button (CTA) directs potential customers to take appropriate action.

Your CTAs must be clear about what customers can expect when they click the link. You can be coy or clever with video captions but keep your CTAs simple and direct.

The CTA ‘Install Now’ lets users know they will arrive at a page where they can install the game. Your CTA button must do what it says. Don’t entice users with a ‘Free Download’ CTA and ask for personal information (Source).

The placement of video CTAs is also paramount. If you have CTAs in the actual video, the best time to activate them is in the middle of the ad.

Video marketing platform Wistia found that mid-roll CTAs yielded optimal conversion rates. CTAs at the beginning of videos are promotional and distract from your marketing message. End-of-video CTAs miss out on viewers that don’t watch the entire video.

If you don’t have an Instagram business or professional account, you’re limited to two places for CTA links – the link in the bio and the link sticker in Instagram Stories. Stories are short-lived, and the bio section only has one hyperlink. This link won’t work if you’re running multiple campaigns. Further still, chances of a conversion are slim if prospects have to search for the CTA button.

6. Optimize for Mobile

One of the biggest mistakes you can make when creating Instagram video ads is not to optimize for mobile. More than half the world’s traffic comes from mobile users. Further still, Instagram is a mobile platform. Therefore, your Instagram video ad settings must be compatible with mobile viewing. We recommend shooting vertical videos with a 9:16 aspect ratio.

The landing page your ad directs viewers to must also be mobile-friendly. To optimize your landing pages, deactivate website pop-ups, enlarge text, and remove excess images and videos. Earlier, we talked about minimizing visual elements to increase ad appeal. It also improves page loading time, reducing bounce-back rates.

7. Test Instagram Video Ads

Test various Instagram video ad formats to understand their features and audience engagement capabilities. If you’re only using in-feed video ads, you’re missing out on the interactive elements of an Instagram Story or the full-screen benefit of Instagram Reels.

Analyzing your Instagram video ad campaign is crucial to achieving your social media marketing goals. Without it, you’re flying blind. How do you know your SaaS content production resonates with followers? Do lead generation campaigns for your hybrid event perform better as Instagram Stories or in-feed ads?

A/B or split testing allows you to find the content, video format, and CTA buttons that drive conversions. It compares two or more versions of the same ad to determine which version leaves the most impact and drives conversions. The ads run concurrently and are shown to different segments of the target audience.

You shouldn’t just test video formats but also captions, CTAs, and video lengths. Each element should be tested at a time to help you optimize current and future videos.


Responding to social and marketing trends, Instagram has rolled out various video formats and features to engage users. The once-exclusive photo-sharing platform allows businesses to run ads as in-feed video posts, 15-second stories, Reels, and real-time videos.

This guide showed you seven tips for creating effective Instagram video ads. The points you should remember are:

  • Build a customer profile to understand your target audience’s motivations and behaviors, and create content they like.
  • Choose the right format based on what your audience wants.
  • Create content that focuses on storytelling rather than product selling. The best video ads don’t feel like ads and blend in with followers’ feeds. They also stand out to catch viewers’ attention.
  • Use eye-catching visuals to get your audience’s attention.
  • Include a clear call-to-action.
  • Optimize video ads for mobile viewing. If your ads and landing page aren’t compatible with mobile viewing, they won’t be effective.

These tips are the foundation of effective Instagram video advertising campaigns. Follow them and you’ll take your Instagram video advertising to the next level.

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Article by David Pagotto

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