Instagram Ads Cheat Sheet - Here's What You Need to Know

Kalle Tiihonen Sep 29 2015 5 AM | 4 min read




Instagram Ads leverage the best of Facebook’s advertising technologies and are available in all markets globally as of September 30th. Are you ready?

Instagram launched their first sponsored posts to advertisers in the US in November 2013 and have been cautious in rolling out their advertising platform. As of September 30, Instagram ads are available in all markets worldwide to all advertisers. In many markets, the marketers’ challenge is planning for an advertising medium they’ve never seen before.

A Growing and Engaged Platform

With a community that passed the 400 million member milestone, Instagram is one of the world's largest mobile ads platforms. It gives advertisers the ability to reach an engaged audience, deliver messages in a focused visual experience, and publish content in a creative, high-quality environment.

Instagram is a visual medium and its focus on images makes it a great branding tool. According to their own statistics, 97% of measured campaigns on Instagram have generated significant lifts in ad recall.

Instagram’s user base skews towards younger people than Facebook’s, with roughly 60% of users being under 35. The platform is also highly visual (more so than Facebook), so the same creatives may not work on both platforms. Relevant and well crafted images are crucial elements of the Instagram ads.

Instagram ads can fully leverage Facebook’s advertising technologies, especially all of Facebook’s native audience targeting options as well as new delivery and optimization tools.

New Ad Formats on Instagram

instagram ad formats

Along with the launch of Instagram Ads, new image formats have been added including landscape format and up to 30 second videos. Increase awareness and message association, or get visits to your website or downloads of your mobile app.

At the moment Instagram offers three ad formats: link, video and mobile app ads. Whether it's inspiring people to see your brand differently or to take action, they offer a clean, simple and beautiful creative canvas.

Video ads offer the same visually immersive quality as link and mobile app ads on Instagram — with the power of sight, sound and motion. And now, you can share videos up to 30 seconds long and in landscape format.

Design Recommendations


  Link & Mobile App Ads Video Ads
Aspect ratio 1:1 1:1
Image size 1080 x 1080 pixels  
Caption Text only, max. 125 characters recommended Text only, max. 125 characters recommended
Video   H.264 video compression, high profile preferred, square pixels, fixed frame rate, progressive scan
Format   .mp4 container ideally with leading mov atom, no edit lists
Audio   Stereo AAC audio compression, 128kbps + preferred


Technical Requirements


  Link & Mobile App Ads Video Ads
Aspect ratio 1.9:1 to 1:1 1.9:1 to 1:1
Minimum resolution 600 x 315 pixels (1.9:1 landscape) / 600 x 600 pixels (square) 600 x 315 pixels (1.9:1 landscape) / 600 x 600 pixels (square)
Caption Text only, max 300 characters (including spaces, mentions and hashtags) Text only, max 300 characters (including spaces, mentions and hashtags)
Text in image/thumbnail Your image may not include more than 20% text. See how much text is on your image Your image may not include more than 20% text. See how much text is on your image
Length   30 seconds max (limited availability)
File size   30 MB max
Frame rate   30 fps max
Bit rate   No limit to bitrate file if you're using two pass encoding, as long as long as your file doesn't exceed 1 GB. Otherwise, 8 megabits per second for 1080p and 4 megabits per second for 720p.

More on Facebook’s official ads guide.

Better ROI with Calls to Actions

In addition to images, sponsored posts have for the first time a call to action button which can redirect to an in-app, third-party website. This is a big opportunity to link your creative to specific actions and generate better ROI. There are 2 types – more general call to action buttons and calls to action related specifically to mobile app ads:


Call to Action Link & Video Ads Mobile App Ads
Watch More Yes Yes
Book Now Yes Yes
Download Yes Yes
Learn More Yes Yes
Shop Now Yes Yes
Sign Up Yes Yes
Contact Us Yes No
Install Now No Yes
Use App No Yes
Listen now No Yes
Play Game No Yes
Watch Video No Yes


Use Hashtags in Ads!

While Instagram ads with hashtags won’t show in organic searches, they can boost engagement and make your ad look more native to Instagram. They also link your ad to organic creatives connected to your business e.g. #nameofyourproduct or #nameofapromotion.

This is how we used a hashtag #marketing with a Learn More call to action button in our first test on Instagram ads.

instagram ads example

P.S. offers an Image Editor for Instagram.

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Kalle Tiihonen

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