A Guide to Advertising on Instagram

Instagram has more than 400 million users that share 80 million posts daily, making it a compelling platform for advertisers. The platform itself says its ads can help drive awareness and increase customers among a highly engaged audience. Instagram offers photo ads, video ads, carousel ads, and stories ads.


Reasons to Use Instagram Ads


Audience Growth

The key reason brands advertise on Instagram is the efficiency of this marketing channel. It’s one of the fastest growing social media platforms, with over 250 million daily active users in June 2017 according to TechCrunch.

Constantly Adapting

In Instagram’s monthly updates, you will find that the platform is updated regularly to provide a better user experience and making advertising even more efficient.


Instagram is a highly engaging social media platform that helps your brand receive a lot of attention and engage with new users.  According to Pew Research, 51% of Instagram users access the platform daily, and 35% say they look at the platform several times a day.

Additional Instagram advertising stats:
– 95 million photos and videos are shared on Instagram per day.
– Currently, Instagram has 1 million monthly active advertisers—up from just 200,000 in   March 2016.
– eMarketer projects that Instagram’s global mobile ad revenues will reach $2.81 billion this year, accounting for over 10 percent of parent company Facebook’s global ad revenues.


Instagram ads use Facebook’s advertising system, which most likely has the most powerful targeting ability. You can specify your target audience’s location, demographics, interests, behaviors, and more. You can even target people who have bought from you or interacted with you and others similar to them.


Instagram Feed Ad Formats


Carousel Ad

Carousel ads bring another layer of depth to campaign where people can swipe to view up to 10 additional photos or videos in a single ad. They are a great way to accomplish business goals by highlighting several products and specific details to give them a considerable boost. You can recognize these ads by the small dots under the image, indicating that there is more than one image.


These ads provide an excellent opportunity to:

-To create a step-by-step illustration of how to use your product
-Tell a story about your brand in several images or videos
-Give a good sense of the essence of your promoted offer
-Lower your Instagram ads cost


Caption: up to 125 characters
Media type: image or video
Recommended image/video resolution: min. 600 x 600 pixels, max. 1080 x 1080 pixels
Image format: .jpg or .png
Minimum number of cards: 2
Maximum number of cards: 10
Image ratio: 1:1
Video aspect ratio: 1:1
Minimum video length: 3 seconds
Maximum video length: 60 seconds
Video thumbnail image ratio: Should match the aspect ratio of your video. If not, thumbnail auto resize is available.


Single Ad

Exactly how it sounds, these are ads with a single image in landscape or square format. This is the most widely used ad type and consists of an image, ad copy, and a call-to-action button.



Caption: up to 125 characters
Media type: image
Recommended image size: 1080 x 1080 pixels or 1200 x 628 pixels (the typical Facebook ad image size)
Image format: .jpg or .png
Max. file size: 30 MB


Video Ad

Instagram used to have a 15-second limit for video, but now videos can be up to 60 seconds long and shot in landscape or square format. They are an effective way to explain how your product or service works or simply share a fun and engaging message. Overall, this type of ad is known to catch users attention as they scroll through their feed.



Caption: up to 125 characters
Media type: video
Recommended video resolution: 600 x 600 pixels (square) or 600 x 315 pixels (landscape)
Aspect Ratio: 1:1 (square) or 1.9:1 (landscape)
Minimum resolution: 600 x 600 pixels
Maximum resolution: 1080 x 1080 pixels
Minimum length: 3 seconds
Maximum length: 60 seconds
Maximum size: 4GB
Frame rate: 30fps max
File type: .mp4 container
Video: H.264 video compression, high profile preferred, square pixels, fixed frame rate, progressive scan
Audio: Stereo AAC audio compression, 128kbps + preferred


Slideshow Ad

Slideshow ads are looping video ads with up to 10 images and music. It’s almost like a carousel ad that scrolls on its own, with music. You can upload an existing slideshow or create a new slideshow. Facebook Ads Manager has an easy-to-use slideshow creator where you can select the images, music, video captions, and a thumbnail for your Instagram ad. You can also choose whether you’d like to images to transition or fade while changing.


Caption: up to 125 characters
Media type: images + soundtrack
Image duration: up to 50 sec per image
Image size: min. 600 x 600 pixels, max. 1080 x 1080 pixels. If you use images of different sizes, your slideshow will be cropped to be square.
Music file format: WAV, MP3, M4A, FLAC, and OGG. You must have all legal rights necessary to use the song.


Lead Ads

Instagram lead ads help to collect valuable information from prospects without leading them off the Instagram platform. As someone clicks on your Lead Ad, they’ll be guided to a new page with a lead form that asks for their name and contact details (e.g. the person’s full name, email address, phone number, etc.)

Tip: When you create this form, there are several fields to fill in. Once you hit “Finish, you won’t be able to edit the lead form. You can use the “Save” button to save a draft of the lead form if you wish to edit it afterward.

When setting up Lead Ads, you’ll also need to include your company’s privacy policy (As you will be collecting user information).


Caption: up to 125 characters
Media type: image
Recommended ad image size: 1080 x 1080 pixels or 1200 x 628 pixels (the typical Facebook ad image size)
Image format: .jpg or .png
Max. file size: 30 MB
Other requirements: Privacy policy


Stories Image Ad

In 2017, Instagram opened up Instagram Stories ads to businesses globally and people appear to be highly engaged while watching the stories from their followers. You can create image stories ads that contain up to six images to share your brands messaging in a fun and engaging way. There is not much customization you can do with these ads, making them very straightforward and simple to create.


Caption: not currently available. Any text must be part of the image file
Format: Full-screen vertical ad (9:16)
Recommended Resolution: 1080 x 1920
Minimum Resolution: 600 x 1067
File types: .jpg or .png
Max. image size: 30MB
Photo content: visible for 5 seconds


Story Video Ad

Instagram stories video ads is a great way for your brand to stand out among all its peers’ advertising. With this format, you can upload a video or GIF of up to 15 seconds in length. Simply upload your video or GIF and choose a video thumbnail. The thumbnail you choose will be what people see before your video plays. It can influence a user’s decision to watch the ad. It’s an amazingly engaging way of showcasing your product, building your brand’s personality, and engaging your audiences by reminding them of your offers.


Caption: not currently available. Any text must be part of the image file
Format: Full-screen vertical ad (9:16)
Recommended Resolution: 1080 x 1920
Minimum Resolution: 600 x 1067
File types: mp4 or .mov
Max. video size: 4GB
Max. video length: 15 seconds
Recommended Video Codecs: h.264, VP8
Recommended Audio Codecs: AAC, Vorbis



Virtual CMO as a Profitable and Viable Marketing Service

The expertise of an in-house marketing team minus the premium salary


So your company is ready to take your marketing efforts to the next level. What do you do? Either you hire a full-time, in-house marketing director or chief marketing officer (CMO), but these positions require a $70-$200K salary that is way out of budget. You really need an expert with the experience and ability to lead all marketing aspects to reach your overall marketing goals while getting your money’s worth. But, can one person really execute all your marketing efforts alone?

The answer is not likely. A CMO will have to outsource most of your marketing divisions like a videographer, copywriter, designer, programmer, etc. The list of invoices goes on and on. So what is the best solution for your business?

Partnering with a Virtual CMO (vCMO) who in contrast to the traditional CMO, can provide dynamic expertise across multiple disciplines- digital marketing, social media, analytics, tracking, and programming, just to name a few. It positions your company to collaborate with a dedicated team of marketing experts who deliver strategic marketing to reach your marketing goals, minus the premium salary. Think of it as your all-in-one staffing solution.

What is a vCMO?

A virtual chief marketing officer (vCMO) is a service that gives clients access to the skills, experience and strategic insight of our proven marketing professionals at a fraction of the cost of hiring an in-house Marketing Director.


Why should you hire a Virtual CMO?


Cost Efficiency

The biggest benefit of hiring a cVMO is that your business can save an estimated savings of 20-70%, instead of hiring an in-house CMO. This is because a CMO’s average salary is $170,000, not including the additional costs of the outsourced divisions. With a vCMO, an effective, outsourced team could cost less than a third of that expense. This means you get all your marketing needs, for less. 

Jack of most trades

A vCMO provides expertise and experience across many disciplines. If your business launches a new product or service or ventures into a new marketing medium (digital media, public relations, or social media), your in-house marketing director may not have the experience to be able to lead the effort effectively. When you hire an outsourced team, you will have access to a broader range of expertise for less money.


Effective marketing requires consistency to establish brand recognition and positive customer experience. While business owners have every intention of driving their marketing efforts, something more pressing is bound to hit their desk becoming the new priority. An outside team’s priority will always be to provide marketing that delivers proven and measurable results while ensuring you make the right marketing decisions for your business. 

High-quality results

With a higher focus and consistency comes a higher quality output. An outsourced vCMO will provide a network of marketing resources to provide their honest opinion on your company and ideas so they identify your strengths to meet your business goals. They will analyze what works, what needs improvement and clearly prioritize the problems needed to be solved. This includes implementing game-changing strategies, execution, and monitoring market trends. They will also be able to provide reports based on valuable tracking tools for your business. Having a dedicated vCMO to report on marketing efforts means better business decisions and accountability.