A Guide to Instagram Video Ads [Specs, Best Practices & More]

Logan Mayville
Logan Mayville
Facebook Ads Expert & Consultant
an influencer recording a fashion ugc
Insense is a marketplace to collaborate with creators for UGC, posting, and whitelisted ads. 
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Videos are fun, relaxing, and have interesting content to watch. 

Using them in your digital marketing campaigns can stop people right in their tracks.

not literally, but you get the point.

There are just so many benefits of using video ads for your business.

And with Instagram video ads at the top of the social media marketing game, your campaigns are in for a treat.

You’ll be leaving money on the table if you’re yet to leverage video ads on Instagram. 

If you are already, are you making the most of it?

In any case, we’ll show you how to do that in this guide.

More specifically, we’ll talk about:

  • Why you should use IG video ads
  • How to create them
  • Best practices to ensure they’re effective   

That said, let’s roll!

[fs-toc-omit]Table of Contents

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Why Use Instagram Video Ads?

Let’s tackle this before we get down to business. 

To begin with, one of the main reasons why you should use Instagram video ads is because there’s an audience ready to view your content.

According to statistics, there are over 1.4 million active users on Instagram. 

That means if you publish an eye-catching video ad, you don’t have to be bothered about whether people will see it or not. 

Here are more reasons why: 

1. People love video 

If you had to choose between looking at an image and watching a video, there’s a good chance you’d prefer to see a video.  

It’s the preferred means of communication and consumption for virtually everybody

According to a study by Wyzowl, 96% of consumers increased their online video consumption in 2020. 

Of those viewers, 9 out of 10 indicated they wanted to see more videos from brands. 

So we can say customers are, in a way, begging for video content. 

Don’t hesitate to give it to them! 

2. Videos are more engaging

It’s much easier for your audience to engage with videos than photos or images.

With a still image, there is only a graphic or photo and maybe text to read—that’s all. 

For videos, on the other hand, there is much to see that’ll capture your audience’s attention. 

There’s motion to follow with their eyes, animated text to read, and music or voice-overs to listen to. 

What else?

In most social ad formats (more on these below), you can add supplementary text and buttons below the video. 

This keeps people on the ad for longer and further increases their chances of engaging. 

3. Video ads provide better ROI

Aside from the fun of using videos in your ad campaigns, it’s also been proven to give better campaign results. 

Don’t just take our word for it!

In the 2021 Wyzowl State of Video Marketing report, 78% of marketers said using video has helped them increase sales. 

Another 86% said it helped them generate more leads.

See why you should use Instagram video ads in your social media marketing campaign?

So, how can I get started?

Let’s show you in the next section!

How to Create Instagram Video Ads

Running video ads on Instagram is quite easy.

In fact, you don’t even need an Instagram account to get started.

You need to open one if you’re yet to do that though. 

So, what do you need to begin?

  • Prepare the videos you’d like to use
  • Connect your Instagram account to Facebook Ads manager by following these steps:
  1. Head over to Business settings
  2. Select accounts > Instagram accounts
  3. Tap the Add button
  4. Select Connect Your Instagram Account 

Now that we’ve got that settled, here’s how to create Instagram video ads:

  • Click on the green Create button
  • Select an objective (more on this later) and click Continue
  • Input required details for your ad set
  • When you get to the placements section, choose Manual placements and select Instagram
  • Click Continue

Then, complete the ad by filling out details for your ad format, identity, and more.

You can preview your ads before submitting them for review. 

Once approved, your video ad will be live on Instagram. 

Instagram Advertising goals

As promised, let's explain the different advertising goals you can choose and how they affect your campaign. 

Here’s a table showing several ad objectives and ad placements they match with: 

Image Source: Meta

Let’s begin!

  • Brand awareness: Choosing this objective will help raise awareness for your brand and products/services. In other words, more users learn about you. 
  • Reach: Its goal is to set your ad to reach many people within your target audience.
  • Traffic: Drives people to your website, landing page, apps, or other URL.
  • Engagement: This objective gets Instagram users to engage with your ad content by commenting, liking, sharing, or clicking added links. 
  • App installs: You should choose this objective if you want people to download your app.
  • Video views: This Instagram objective gives your video ad more views
  • Lead generation: It helps you obtain personal information from Instagram users who’ve shown interest in your brand or product.
  • Messages: Selecting this objective gets viewers to send a message to your Instagram business account 
  • Conversions: Great for increasing sales, sign-ups, or app downloads 
  • Catalog sales: Do you own an eCommerce store? This objective helps you drive sales to your site
  • Store traffic: The store traffic objective helps you drive foot traffic to your physical store and boosts sales too.  

Let’s continue!

Different Types of Instagram Video Ads and Their Specs

Speaking of Instagram video ads, did you know that there are different video formats with their respective ad specs?

Well, there are and some of them include: 

  • Instagram stories
  • Instagram reels
  • Explore
  • Instagram Shop

Let’s take a look at each of them in detail.

Type #1: Instagram stories ads

These are full-screen vertical video ads that users see when swiping through Instagram stories

It’s a pretty good placement for your ad as there are a lot of people browsing IG stories. 

According to Instagram, over 500 million Instagram accounts are using stories every day. 

This short video ad shows off your brand or product in an engaging way.

Here’s what a typical Instagram story ad looks like:

Instagram Stories ads specs

Here are the recommendations for your IG story: 

  • File format: GIF, MP4, or MOV
  • Aspect ratio: 9:16
  • Video resolution: 1080 x 1080 pixels
  • Duration: 10 seconds
  • Maximum file size: 4MB
  • Video setting: Square pixels, fixed frame rate, progressive scan, stereo AAC audio compression at 128kbs+, and H.264 compression 

Sounds and captions are at your discretion but recommended. 

Type #2: Instagram Reels ads

Instagram Reels are similar to Instragam stories as both are vertical full-screen videos.

They also show up in-between regular reels.

The difference between them is that people can comment, like, share, and save IG reels.  

Image Source: Facebook

Essentially, you get to create short entertaining videos that inspire users to engage with your posts. 

Instagram Reels ads specs

  • File format: MOV & MP4
  • Aspect ratio: 4:5
  • Resolution: 1080 x 1080
  • Duration: 60 seconds
  • Max video size: 4GB
  • Video setting: Square pixels, progressive scan, fixed frame rate, stereo AAC audio compression at 128kbs+, and H.264 compression
  • Primary text: 72 characters

Type #3: Instagram Explore ads

Instagram Explore is a page where Instagram curates content for users based on their interests. 

It’s a more recent ad placement option from Instagram. 

Brands can use explore ads to market their brands or products in new ways. 

This ad type lets you target potential customers looking for content related to yours. 

So, you can be certain only people who will likely engage with your ad content will see the ad. 

Image Source: Facebook

Instagram Explore ads specs

If you want to create high-quality content, here are ad specs to guide you:

  • File format: MOV, MP4, or GIF
  • Aspect ratio: 4:5
  • Resolution: 1080 x 1080
  • Duration: Max 60 minutes
  • Max file size: 250MB
  • Video setting: Square pixels, progressive scan, fixed frame rate, stereo AAC audio compression at 128kbs+, and H.264 compression
  • Primary text: 125 characters
  • Minimum width: 500 pixels

Sounds and captions are also optional but recommended.

Type #4: Instagram shop ads

These are ads found on Instagram’s shop platform

It’s ideal for retailers and eCommerce businesses considering users are already searching for products. 

Instagram Shop ads specs

  • File format: MOV, MP4, or GIF
  • Resolution: 1080 x 1080
  • Duration: Less than 60 seconds
  • Max file size: 30MB

Up next, we look at what you need to keep in mind when creating video ads. 

8 Key Best Practices when Creating Instagram Video Ads

It’s one thing to know how to create IG video ads and another to ensure they’re effective. 

Want to know how to do that? 

Here are some practices to guide you:

Best practice #1: Start with a goal

Before you start creating a video ad, you need to have a specific goal or objective in mind

Almost everyone has an idea for a funny video.

That’s alright, but the main question you need to ask is: what’s the point? 

What will the video accomplish for your business? 

So when planning a video, always start with the result you want to achieve

Some common video advertising goals include:  

  • Increasing sales/revenue
  • Creating brand awareness
  • Educating customers or prospects about your product or service

It sounds rudimentary, but you’d be surprised how many marketers go all out to create a funny video without a clear goal for the outcome. 

Best practice #2: Have a singular focus

If you have chosen a goal for your video(s), the next thing you want to do is drive it with one theme and one theme only

What do we mean by that?

Let’s say your goal is sales and your angle is that the product will save you time, you want to avoid any info or storylines that deviate from that angle

The video will be between 6-60 seconds, so there’s no time to talk about the different features or flavors of the product. 

…and even if there was time, using a laundry list of benefits will bore people out.

What should you do then?

Choose one specific theme for your video and stick to it. 

You can go on to add a specific call to action button (CTA) at the end of your video such as “Shop Now” or “Get Free Shipping.” 

Adding CTAs increases the chances of people clicking through to your offer

Best practice #3: Use a hook in the first three seconds

Your video might have an expensive budget, but what’s the point if no one watches past the first half second? 

How do you ensure people are excited to see your video ad?

By using a hook

Animoto defines it as “something interesting that happens at the very beginning of your video that draws in viewers.” 

Here are some tips they added: 

  • Introduce a problem
  • Offer a surprise
  • Promise a story
  • Tell your audience what to do
  • Use text overlays

We couldn’t agree more! 

Best practice #4: Make videos optimized for Instagram

Although it’s difficult to put it into words, consumers understand instantly if a brand “gets it” in regard to their social content and advertising. 

This means that if you take a video ad you created for TikTok and use it as-is on Instagram, you will turn people off. 

What should you do instead?

Ensure you understand what types of videos have success on Instagram

Furthermore, it’s important to also understand the culture of the video there so you can optimize your video accordingly. 

Users prefer natural-looking content that tells a story as if they’re just watching somebody’s life being recorded on a phone. 

So creating a standard-looking car TV commercial would be out of place on IG. 

Essentially, it’s best to familiarize yourself with video trends native to Instagram before production and probably create an ad template you can refer to. 

Best practice #5: Use captions and sound

To put it simply, your videos need captions (subtitles) and sound. 

Viewers might decide they want to watch without sound, but that’s their choice and you need to let them make it. 

So, would your video make sense with no sound? 

If the answer is no, you need to work on the video again. 

Why? 

Well, 85% of Facebook users view videos with the sound off. 

That’s why you need to use captions too. 

Captions are a great way to keep the story of your video alive even if the audience is watching in silence. 

What makes an engaging video ad is a user starting with the sound off, then turning the sound on to see how the ending of the video turns out. 

As stated earlier, assume that your audience will watch with the sound off, but plan for them to turn it on. 

Best practice #6: Variety is best

Plan for a variety in terms of the style, length, and content of the videos

As regards style, you should have “ads” that look like organic content and have others that may be a bit more highly produced. 

You also want to have different content—from lifestyle videos to product reviews and unboxing videos

This will ensure you appeal to a wider range of people and provide you with multiple ads for retargeting campaigns. 

Additionally, you want to vary the video length so you can upload on multiple placements

For example, the duration of Instagram stories is about 10 seconds while reels last longer than that. 

Best practice #7: Create videos, not ads

People love watching content, but not ads. 

So if you’re looking to create video content for your social media ads that people will watch, user-generated content (UGC), is a great way to do just that

When users create the content on behalf of brands, audiences view the videos as more authentic, and therefore, more trustworthy. 

These videos don’t even need to be highly produced and they will outperform studio-shot videos. 

One reason UGC ads are successful is that they look like organic posts from your friends

That makes it more relatable to audiences who have developed a natural aversion to glossy, highly produced content. 

Best practice #8: Team up with creators

Last but certainly not least, consider working with Instagram creators for your video content. 

Why?

Teaming up with creators and influencers can help raise awareness and engagement for your brand

Videos from this partnership appear more relatable to your audience.

63% of consumers trust what influencers say about a brand more than the brand itself. 

But, getting influencers to collaborate with can be challenging.

How do you go about it then?

Simple, you can find creators in your industry that match your goals through Insense.  

It’s a platform that matches you with creators who can create UGC among other things. 

Getting started is easy if you follow these steps:

  • Go to the link in the previous line to access our homepage
  • Click Get Started to sign up
  • On the next screen, generate a creative brief by inputting details about your brand and campaign 
  • Get matched with creators you can work with and you’ll receive the content in a few days
  • Furthermore, amplify your content by running ads on the creator’s IG handle i.e. run creator-licensed campaigns

Let’s move on!

3 Great Examples of Video Ads to Inspire You

Deciding what your video should look like can be challenging and that includes the ad format, placements, text usage, and more. 

If you’re in such a situation, going through video ads from other brands is an excellent way to get inspired.

We’ve put together some examples to help you get started.

Example #1: Ikea

In this ad, Ikea turned around a pretty boring product (an anti-slip mat) into an interesting one using a captivating video. 

Just a few seconds into a video and viewers are hooked.

            …you’re probably watching it again and that’s fine.

This was a funny video but one with a singular focus like we talked about earlier on.

It showed users how useful an anti-slip mat can be.  

Even the ad copy they added highlighted the benefit of the product. 

Author’s Note: Focus more on the benefits of your product rather than the features.

Example #2: Freshly

One thing that stands out in this Instagram video ad is how they used text overlay.

They begin by asking a question we’re pretty sure the audience or even most people can relate to: Too busy to eat healthily

They go on to highlight the benefits of their service and available offers with texts. 

The video posted some years back has had over 2.4 million views which is pretty impressive. 

Example #3: FeetUp

This video ad is simply a display of Feetup’s product. 

Sometimes a simple ad is what an exceptional product needs.

In the ad, the trainer does a good job of demonstrating how the product works so that when people see it, they quickly understand how it’ll help them. 

They also used text overlays to briefly explain the benefits of the Feetup trainer. 

Alright, let’s tie this up!

Now Over to You

We’ve shown you all you need to know to create and run Instagram video ads. 

Now, it’s time to execute them!

Still thinking of the best angle for your video?

By all means, book a demo with Insense to speak with one of our team members. 

We’re here to help and you’ll be glad you did.

Thanks for stopping by!

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Logan Mayville

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