Instagram Stories were first rolled out in August of 2016 and were seen as a direct answer to Snapchat Stories. Stories among users took off in popularity and Instagram has been casting a pretty big shadow over Snapchat ever since.
Instagram's story feature has been a popular and successful ad format since they rolled it out last year. With over 300 million people using Instagram Stories every day, there is certainly an audience for that placement.
What Are Instagram Story Ads?
They're full-screen, mobile-only vertical ads that support video, static content, and–most recently–carousel ads. They appear between stories from the people and businesses you follow.
So, as someone watches a stream of stories, they're going to see ads after every couple of people.
Why Are Instagram Story Ads so Successful?
These types of ads are really neat because they offer a full-screen immersive experience that immediately sets them apart from many other online ad types and spaces. This immersive experience feels much more organic and much less like an ad, which helps to improve conversions and user interaction.
There is also a wide range of objectives that can be utilized in this ad placement. Businesses and marketers can optimize towards reach, video views, app installs, traffic, conversions, and brand awareness. This helps to expand the real estate where you can reach potential customers and drive down cost by expanding the reach of your campaigns.
So What Are the Cons?
Okay, yes, every rose has its thorn, and every awesome ad placement has some challenges. The biggest one with this format is that, in the past, Instagram Stories has required a particular dimension for their ads: 1080 x 1920 px.
While most creative on Facebook and Instagram is horizontal, this placement is vertical and it means businesses have to create more creative assets in order to include Instagram Stories in their ad strategy.
Another big difference between Instagram Stories and other placements is that any copy in the ad is required to be a part of the photo since your ad is immersive and full-screen. This is a huge no-no in other Facebook ads, as many marketers and business owners will know. What this means is that it’s not just a matter of resizing existing creative, advertisers really had to create story-specific creative for this placement.
A lot of advertisers have creative resource limitations that hindered them from being able to use Stories as much as they would like, or keep them from using them at all, due to this need for additional steps/creative.
Not only this, but separate creative meant that advertisers needed to split out stories into their own ad sets which created inefficiency.
However, a recent update to Instagram Stories ad placement has allowed them to be more accessible. Instagram will now take your existing image/copy in a feed ad and automatically generate a Story ad that can be used without any additional work from the advertiser.
This is immensely helpful (and incredibly insightful on Instagram’s part to come up with a solution to fix one of the only cons of this ad placement) because it saves advertisers time and eliminates the need to create specific visuals for Story placements.
Not only this, but auto-generated Instagram story ads allows advertisers the ability to run multiple types of creative together which allows for more efficiency.
With Story ads able to be automatically generated, it allows more testing to take place to determine which creative is driving top performance, without the need to devote more energy and resources to creating Story-specific creative.
And more testing means more learning, data, and better campaigns for your business!
Moral of the Story?
If you have the resources to create Instagram-Story specific creative, then by all means, do it! However, the auto-generated Story ads are a great alternative for resource-strapped advertisers that still want to expand the reach and performance of their campaigns. Test this new format for yourself and see how it improves your ad stats.
Plus, learn more about how digital marketing agencies cost less than in-house teams and have the ability and resources to create Story-specific creative.