So you’re running paid search and display ads through Google, you’re advertising on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and even some niche industry-related social sites. Perhaps you’re even running some guerilla advertising campaigns, or commercials through NPR. But for some strange reason, you dismissed Instagram, unsure if it would yield ROI.
Well, I’m here to inform you that today is not the day to ignore Instagram! While Instagram may be younger, with fewer users, than its parent company Facebook, Instagram is the breakout star of the family who everyone wants to sit next to at the Thanksgiving table. Instagram provides a platform to tell visual stories through various ad formats, and many advertisers have seen this channel yielding higher ROI in comparison to their other advertising campaigns.
Today Instagram has 800 million active users, according to Statista, and the rate of rapid growth it has seen since 2013 is pretty astounding. Just check out the graph below.
But with so many active folks scrolling through their feeds at all hours of the day, how in the world can a little business like yours stand out?
This is where Instagram advertising comes into play. Similar to Facebook, with popularity comes clutter, and breaking through that clutter organically to make a real impact can feel nearly impossible. To focus on the right people, at the right time, with the right message and imagery, Instagram ads are your powerful vehicle to do just that…
In this guide you’ll learn everything you need to know to get started with an Instagram advertising campaign.
What Is Instagram Advertising?
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Instagram advertising is method of paying to post sponsored content on the Instagram platform to reach a larger and more targeted audience. While there are many reasons a business or individual may decide to advertise, Instagram advertising is often utilized to grow brand exposure, website traffic, generate new leads, and move current leads down the funnel (and hopefully towards converting).
Since Instagram is such a visual platform, text ads are not a thing here. Rather you need an image, set of images, or video (which can be accompanied by text) to reach your audience with Instagram ads.
The exciting part? Instagram advertising works! In March 2017, over 120 million Instagrammers visited a website, got directions, called, emailed, or direct messaged to learn about a business based on an Instagram ad. According to Instagram, 60% of people say they discover new products on the platform, and 75% of Instagrammers take action after being inspired by a post.
Similar to Facebook ads, throwing some money behind a post will lead to more exposure for your brand, as well as more control over who can see your post.
Is Instagram Advertising Right for Your Business?
This leads to the obvious question: Who is on Instagram? Is it just teenagers taking selfies? Or 20-somethings looking for recipes? What about older populations? Are they “gramming” their grandchildren?
Unfortunately for all you marketers targeting the grandparent demographic, Instagram does tend to skew towards a more youthful audience, with the largest percentage of users falling in the age range of 18-29 (55%), then between 30-49 years-old (28%). Only 11% of Instagram users are between the ages of 50-64, and just 4% are adults over 65.
According to Hootsuite, the majority of Instagram users live in urban areas (32%), 28% of users live in the suburbs, and 18% of users in the country. While there are more women on Instagram than men, the gender gap is not as large as it once was.
If this doesn’t sound like the audience you’re targeting, you still should not dismiss the social network as a useless opportunity. Similar to what happened with Facebook, more and more adults over 34 will likely be hopping on the Instagram bandwagon as the platform continues to grow. Also, if you are working with the 4% of adults over 65, you can always target that demographic directly…
Similar to many other social advertising platforms, Instagram gives you the granular control to target specific genders, age ranges, locations, interests, behaviors, and more. You can even target a custom or lookalike audience so you’re showing ads only to your direct list of leads or those who have a similar makeup.
What advertisers should really latch onto is the fact that Instagram uses Facebook’s demographic data to serve up ads to the appropriate parties. This makes the tool super valuable for advertisers looking to target a niche audience, because Facebook already has a thorough history and thorough demographic targeting options.
Instagram advertising can be especially powerful if you’re in a visual or creative industry, such as the restaurant business or craft marketing.
How Much Do Instagram Ads Cost?
This is a tricky question to answer, as costs are based on a variety of factors, and as you may have suspected these factors are not all revealed to us by the platform. The model is based on CPC (cost-per-click) and CPM’s (cost per impressions), and prices are determined according to Instagram’s ad auction.
“The cost of Instagram ads are influenced by many factors — everything from your audience to your ad feedback,” says Andrew Tate from AdEspresso. “There’s a lot that goes into understanding how to advertise on Instagram.”
AdEspresso recently dug into $100 million worth of Instagram ad spend in 2017, and found that the average cost per click (CPC) for Instagram ads in Q3 ranged between $0.70 and $0.80. While this is a helpful benchmark it will of course vary depending upon the auction, audience, competition, time of day, day of week, etc.
Some advertisers find that Instagram ads often have higher engagement, but this can cost them. According to Keith Baumwald, founder of Leverag Consulting, Instagram ads costs are slightly higher in cost than Facebook ads. Baumwald claims that since the ads are so highly targeted you could end up paying as high as $5 a CPM.
On the bright side, advertisers do have control over how their budgets are allocated. For instance, you can choose between a daily budget to limit the amount spend per day or a lifetime budget where you would set up your ads to run for a length of time until the budget is depleted.
Other ways to control your Instagram ad spend include setting your ad schedule (for instance, you can specify certain hours of the day you want your ads to run), setting your ad delivery method (there are three options: link clicks, impressions, and daily unique reach), as well as setting your bid amount (manual vs. automatic).
Learning the ins and outs of a new advertising platform might seem overwhelming at first. The good news here is that if you’re advertising on Facebook, there isn’t much to learn. In fact, Instagram ads can be configured right through Facebook Ad Manager.
If you’re not advertising on Facebook, don’t fret. We’ll walk you through the process below, and there is also the option to create some simple ads directly within the Instagram app.
Advertisers who are more advanced or running a relatively large ad set can also chose to configure their ads through Power Editor or Facebook’s Marketing API. Instagram Partners is also available for businesses who need to buy and manage multiple ads, manage a large community, and deliver content at scale.