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The Ultimate Guide to Instagram Ad Formats 2023

Instagram’s robust ecosystem isn’t just about aesthetic images and hashtags. It’s a dynamic platform that offers advertisers a myriad of opportunities to showcase their products and stories. Instagram ad formats offer a diverse range of options for businesses to showcase their products and services effectively on the platform. 

According to Meta,  60% of people discover new products on this social media platform so why miss such an opportunity? 

Instagram Advertising allows businesses to reach their target audience with engaging and visual content tailored to meet specific marketing objectives. By leveraging the platform’s vast user base and advanced targeting capabilities, advertisers can reach potential customers based on demographics, interests, behaviors, and more.

Dive into this comprehensive guide on Instagram ad formats, as we unpack each format in detail, offering insights and strategic tips for optimal engagement.

Instagram Ads: Overview

Instagram Ads is one of the most effective e-commerce advertising platforms.

Your Instagram ads will show up in users’ main feeds and in their Stories. It’ll be mixed in with posts from accounts they follow and suggested accounts they might like. 

Instagram Ads

You can also find these ads in the ‘Explore’ section of Instagram. Here, users see content from accounts they don’t follow yet. When a user clicks on an image or video in the Explore section, they might encounter ads as they scroll, akin to their regular Instagram feed.

There are also many other techniques businesses use to succeed on this social media platform for example, Instagram DM Marketing

Pros and Cons

Instagram stands as a powerful platform for both personal expression and business promotion. As with any tool, however, it comes with its share of advantages and drawbacks.

Here are the pros and cons of using various Instagram ad formats:


  • Given the extensive user base on Instagram, it’s probable that a considerable portion will encounter your ads.
  • Images and visuals often convey the essence of your offerings more compellingly than extended write-ups.
  • Instagram ad formats provide a versatile toolkit for marketers to engage their target audience effectively.
  • The Instagram shops feature allows for direct sales within the app itself.


  • Instagram is a crowded space with numerous businesses vying for recognition, making differentiation a challenge.
  • The Instagram algorithm plays a pivotal role in content discoverability.
  • One could unwittingly face a shadowban on Instagram, limiting their content’s reach.

In sum, while Instagram offers a plethora of opportunities for engagement and branding, users and businesses alike must navigate its challenges to maximize its potential effectively. 

The platform’s impact hinges on how one leverages its strengths and mitigates its limitations.

How Much Is It to Advertise on Instagram?

Whether you opt for a daily or a lifetime budget for your ads on Instagram, the expenditure is entirely at your discretion. While there’s no one-size-fits-all budgeting recommendation, Meta suggests a starting point of at least $5.00 daily.

Although there isn’t a universally recognized or standard cost, several determining factors include:

  • The target audience you’re reaching out to.
  • How saturated or competitive your market segment is.
  • The chosen ad placement, as costs might vary when displayed on Facebook compared to Instagram.
  • The chosen Instagram ad format.
  • Seasonality, with prices typically escalating during peak shopping times.

Advertisers have the flexibility to define their highest bids for every auction or entrust Instagram to optimize it. 

For those venturing into the realm of Instagram advertising, commencing with a modest max bid can be a wise strategy. After understanding the competition in your industry and knowing your audience better, you can see if you need to increase your top bid.

How to Start

There are three methods to initiate advertising on Instagram:

  1. Directly via Instagram: By transitioning to a business profile, you can promote feed posts, Reels, and Stories right from your Instagram interface.
  2. Through your Facebook Page: For those who operate a Facebook page, linking an Instagram profile allows for ad creation. Ads created this way can be displayed both on Facebook and Instagram.
  3. Using Meta Ads Manager: This platform offers a robust set of tools for crafting ads for both Instagram and Facebook.

After that, you can choose the way you want to promote your products on the platform. By leveraging the right Instagram ad formats, businesses can enhance user engagement and drive better results.

Instagram Ad Formats

Various Instagram ad formats are available for businesses aiming to connect with their desired audience. These encompass:

  • Image ads,
  • Video ads,
  • Carousel,
  • Stories,
  • Reels,
  • Instagram Shop.

As for ad objectives, there are several ones available.

Instagram ad objectives. Source:

Each Instagram ad format provides distinct advantages. But which one aligns best with your enterprise’s goals?

1. Image Ads

Single-image advertisements that appear directly in the user’s feed.

Instagram Image Ad

Key Features

  • Single Image: A focus on one main visual.
  • Customizable CTA: Add the most suitable action button.
  • Direct Response: Easily leads users to a specified link or action.


  • Immediate Impact: A single image can leave a lasting impression.
  • Versatility: Applicable across varied campaigns, from promotions to brand introductions.
  • Ease of Creation: Requires fewer resources than other formats.


  • Opt for high-resolution, captivating images.
  • Keep the message clear and direct.
  • Test different CTAs to see which resonates best with your audience.

Best for

Brands seeking a straightforward, impactful way to convey their message. With just one image, a Photo Ad offers clarity and focus, ideal for businesses launching a product, highlighting a special offer, or introducing their brand to new audiences. 

The simplicity of this Instagram ad format means that the right image can quickly communicate what might take paragraphs to explain.

2. Video Ads

Videos offer a deeper engagement level due to their dynamic nature. As per Instagram’s insights, users are inclined to watch videos on the platform more than ever before.

Key Features

  • This Instagram ad format is similar to photo ads, but they use videos instead of images to convey the message. Instagram videos can be up to 60 minutes long, but you should prefer much shorter ones for your ad.
  • Audio Inclusion: Can enhance the message and vibe.
  • Autoplay: Videos play automatically, grabbing instant attention.


  • Storytelling: More room to convey brand narratives.
  • Increased Engagement: Users tend to interact more with video content.
  • Versatility: Suitable for tutorials, testimonials, product showcases, and more.


  • Capture attention in the first few seconds.
  • Prioritize vertical videos to take full screen.
  • Always include captions for silent watchers.
  • Ensure video content aligns with your brand voice and messaging.

Best for

Businesses looking to create a deeper connection with their audience. Video Ads are perfect for brands that want to tell a story, whether it’s the journey of their product, customer testimonials, or a behind-the-scenes look. 

With the added layer of sound and movement, Video Ads have the power to evoke emotion and capture the viewer’s attention in a more immersive way than static images.

3. Carousel Ads

A series of images or videos within one advertisement, allowing users to swipe through.

Instagram Carousel Ad

Key Features

  • Multiple Slides: Showcase up to 10 images or videos.
  • Diverse CTAs: Different action prompts for each slide.
  • Swipe Function: Users can manually navigate through slides.


  • Showcase Variety: Multiple products or facets in one ad.
  • Sequential Storytelling: Guide users through a narrative.
  • Higher Engagement: Entices users to view all content slides.


  • Maintain a coherent theme throughout the slides.
  • Position your strongest content at the beginning and end for maximum impact.
  • Highlight a single product per slide to keep the user’s focus.
  • Use clear, concise CTAs.

Best for

Companies choose this Instagram ad format to showcase multiple products or tell a story that unfolds over several slides. 

Carousels are a versatile choice for brands aiming to guide users through a sequence, be it the features of a new product, steps in a process, or a series of related items. 

The swipeable nature of this format makes it engaging and interactive, prompting users to discover more.

4. Stories

Instagram Stories ads display as full-screen photos or videos and pop up between users’ Stories. The most effective ads blend seamlessly, appearing as regular content rather than obvious advertisements.

Instagram Stories Ad

Key Features

  • Full-Screen Display: Immersive vertical format.
  • Short Duration: Up to 15-second videos or static images.
  • Interactive Elements: Include stickers, polls, and more.


  • Immediate Visibility: Appears at the top of users’ feeds.
  • High Engagement: The temporary nature prompts instant interaction.
  • Direct Engagement Tools: Directly communicate with the audience using polls, questions, etc.


  • Use strong visuals to reduce skip rates.
  • Integrate interactive elements to boost engagement.
  • Incorporate CTAs like “Swipe Up” for direct responses.

Best for

Brands aiming for a quick, immersive interaction with users. Given their full-screen format and immediacy atop users’ feeds, Stories are particularly effective for time-sensitive promotions, flash sales, or any content that benefits from instantaneous engagement. 

The interactive nature of this Instagram ad format also means it’s ideal for brands looking to foster direct communication and feedback, be it through polls or Q&A sessions.

5. Reels

They are the ads that appear between Reels and are vertical videos like Stories. They can be as long as 60 seconds and have a ‘Sponsored’ label under the account name for these ads.

Key Features

  • Short Video Clips: Ranging from 3 to 30 seconds.
  • Creative Tools: Access to various editing tools, music, and effects.
  • Dedicated Feed: A separate space for reels, emphasizing discoverability.


  • High Engagement: Bite-sized content is consumed quickly and more frequently.
  • Broad Reach: Reach new audiences through the Reels Explore page.
  • Creative Freedom: Unleash brand creativity and personality.


  • Tap into trending sounds and challenges.
  • Prioritize content originality and fun.
  • Use captions and hashtags to increase discoverability.

Best for

Brands want to tap into the zeitgeist, riding on trending sounds, and challenges, and showcasing their creative side. This Instagram ad format is excellent for businesses that aim to reach a broader audience, especially younger demographics familiar with short, engaging video formats.

6. Instagram Shop

Instagram Shop is a feature on the Instagram platform that allows businesses and creators to showcase and sell their products directly within the app. Also, it transforms a business or creator’s profile into a visual storefront.

Instagram Shop

Key Features

  • Product Tags: Direct links from posts/stories to purchase pages.
  • Dedicated Shopping Feed: A space exclusively for shoppable products.
  • Checkout on Instagram: Purchase without leaving the app (available in certain regions).


  • Integrated Shopping Experience: Streamlines the buyer’s journey.
  • Increased Sales: Direct product access boosts impulse purchases.
  • Brand Trust: Seamless experience enhances credibility.


  • Offer exclusive deals or product previews on Instagram.
  • Regularly update your product catalog for freshness.
  • Integrate shopping with other ad formats for a holistic strategy.

Best For

E-commerce businesses and retailers keen on offering a streamlined shopping experience. 

Instagram Shop is perfect for brands looking to reduce the steps between product discovery and purchase. With direct product tags and the ability to checkout within the app, it’s a game-changer for brands with tangible products to sell. 

Whether you’re rolling out new items, offering exclusive deals, or looking to build trust with a seamless shopping experience, Instagram Shop brings your storefront to the social sphere, merging browsing with buying.

Making The Right Choice

With a plethora of Instagram ad formats available, choosing the right one can be overwhelming. Your decision should hinge on your campaign objectives, target audience preferences, and content availability. 

It’s all about picking the right format for your goals and executing it with finesse. Remember, it’s not just about aesthetic appeal; the ad should resonate with the viewer’s intent and seamlessly guide them down the conversion funnel.

Furthermore, always monitor ad performance metrics. Instagram’s built-in insights or third-party analytics tools can provide granular data on reach, clicks, and conversions. Analyze, iterate, and refine for continuous improvement.

Tips for Successful Instagram Ad Campaigns

When running Instagram ads, ensuring optimal results requires a blend of creativity and strategy. Here are some tips to make the most of your advertising endeavors:

  • Engaging Visuals: Use high-quality photos and videos. Instagram is all about visuals, so your ad should be aesthetically pleasing and representative of your brand.
  • Tailored Content: Understand your audience and craft ads that resonate. Whether it’s through humor, emotion, or inspiration, make sure your message connects. Don’t forget to incorporate various audience targeting strategies for better results.
  • Test Different Instagram Ad Formats: From carousel ads that allow multiple images or videos in a single ad to simple photo ads, find out what works best for your audience.
  • Strong Call to Action (CTA): Clearly instruct users on what to do next, whether it’s visiting a website, purchasing a product, or simply learning more.
  • Leverage User-Generated Content (UGC): If you have permission, showcase testimonials or photos from happy customers. It can enhance authenticity and trust.
  • Optimize for Mobile: Ensure that your landing pages are mobile-friendly. Most Instagram users are on mobile devices, so the transition from your ad to your site should be seamless.
  • Targeting and Retargeting: Use Instagram’s robust targeting options to reach the right audience. Consider retargeting users who’ve interacted with your brand but haven’t converted yet.
  • Monitor and Adjust: Regularly check your ad’s performance metrics. Adjust your strategy, content, or targeting based on what’s working and what’s not.
  • Stay updated: It’s essential to stay updated with the latest Instagram ad formats to ensure your brand remains competitive in the digital space.

By integrating these tips, you can create Instagram ad campaigns that not only capture attention but also drive meaningful results for your brand or business.

Wrapping Up

Instagram, with its diverse ad offerings, stands as a vanguard in the social media advertising space. From Stories to Carousel, the array of Instagram ad formats ensures businesses have diverse ways to convey their message. 

Leveraging the right ad format can catapult your brand awareness and sales to unprecedented heights. Stay ahead of the curve, experiment with different formats, and watch your brand narrative unfold beautifully on this visual platform.