The Complete Guide to Instagram Ads cover image

The Complete Guide to Instagram Ads in 2020

May 13, 2020

Complete marketer’s guide to  Instagram ads, including specs for all types of ads, plus tips for targeting audiences you need to reach on Instagram.

Want to speed up your success on Instagram?

Instagram advertising gets you where you want to go faster.

Need more sales? Bigger audience? Better brand recognition?

Instagram gives you GLORIOUS ad options that let you reach people who are looking for products or services just like yours.

The only catch is — you have to read through scores of Instagram business pages to get a grip on how all the different ad options work.

Until now.

In this guide, we show you everything you need to know about Instagram advertising.

You get examples, tips, and design spec for every type of ad option Instagram offers.


Why Advertise on Instagram?

In The Ultimate Guide to Instagram Marketing, we showed you how to promote your brand’s presence on Instagram.

8 Ways to promote your instagram presence

In this article, we take it a step further and show you exactly how to advertise on Instagram to meet your marketing goals. 

You can place Instagram ads to support objectives such as:

  • Growing your audience
  • Engaging your followers
  • Selling your products

The world loves Instagram, and its one billion+ active users love brands!

200 million + Instagrammers visit at least one brand profile daily.

Most Instagram users (60%) say they discover new products on Instagram.

90% of Instagrammers follow at least one brand.

Instagram offers a ton of support to help brands build a following, engage their audience, and convert Instagrammers to customers.

Why Does Instagram Matter to Marketers - Infographic

Sharelov users enjoy additional tools to help them create ads, target audiences, and analyze results of their ad campaigns. For example, the Monitor Ads  tool helps your team track and measure your competitor’s ad campaigns.

Is Instagram A Good Fit For Your Brand?

Instagrammers are a diverse bunch. Many of them are Gen Z’ers and millennials, and most of them have money to spend.

Here’s Where Instagrammers Are From

The largest group of Instagram users are in the U.S., but the platform is also popular in India, Brazil, and Indonesia.
Where Instagram Users Live infographic
All Ages Love Instagram, But Younger Generations Love It Most


Here’s who uses Instagram regularly, according to a report by Statista:

  • 67% of Americans ages 18-29
  • 47% of Americans ages 30 – 49
  • 23% of Americans ages 50 – 64
  • 8% of Americans age 65+
Instagram users in US by age group Statista

Source: Statista

Annual Household Income of Instagrammers

According to a 2018 report by Statista, the majority of Americans earning more than $100,000 per year use Instagram.

  • 60% of Americans earning $100,000 a year or more use Instagram.
  • 46% of Americans earning $80,000 – 100,000 a year use Instagram.
  • 55% of Americans earning $70,000 – $80,000 a year use Instagram.

If you’re wanting to reach high-income earners between the ages of 18 – 49, then Instagram might be a great fit for your brand.

Many Types Of Businesses Call Instagram “Home”

Best-known for its food and fashion, Instagram has now grown so large that all kinds of businesses are succeeding on the platform.

For example, Beats by Dr. Dre enjoyed a 29% brand lift and 11X boost in website traffic from Instagram advertising.

Beats by Dr. Dre sponsored ad image 1
Beats by Dr. Dre sponsored ad image 2
Beats by Dr. Dre sponsored ad image 3

Samsung, Appsee, and Virgin Media brands have also seen web traffic and profits rise through Instagram ad campaigns.

Samsung Appsee Virgin Media Instagram ad campaigns

If you sell any type of product, you belong on Instagram!

Instagram works hard to help brands succeed.

Maybe the reason brands are doing so well on the platform is Instagram’s commitment to supporting its brands.

The features and tools available to help grow your audience, engage your followers, and convert users to customers are unparalleled by any other social media channel.

Instagram Stories Ads

Instagram Stories is used by 500 million people daily, and 96% of U.S. marketers say they plan to continue using Stories Ads over the next 6 months.

overstock ad example instagram

Stories Ads are a good match for any of your Instagram objectives, whether you’re hoping to expand your reach, increase engagement, or sell products.

Instagram offers fullscreen support for Stories Ads. When you upload Feed creative in the ads manager, your content is automatically converted into fullscreen stories format.

Source: Instagram Business

You can use video or image formats for your Stories ads. Below are the recommendations and requirements for Instagram Stories ads.

Optimize Your Instagram Stories Strategy

All feed image and video dimensions are now supported in Stories ads: from 1:91 to 4:5

image requirements for instagram stories

Image Ads For Instagram Stories

    • File type: .jpg or.png
    • Maximum file size: 30MB
    • Recommended resolution: 1080X1920
    • Minimum resolution: 600 X 1067
Video Requirements for Instragram Stories Ads

Video Ads For Instagram Stories

    • Accepted formats: mp4 or .mov
    • Maximum file size: 4GB
    • Maximum length: 120 seconds (image shows for 5 seconds by default)
    • Supported Video Codecs: H 264, VP8
    • Supported audio codecs: AAC, Vorbis
    • Recommended resolution: 1080X1920
    • Aspect ratio: 9:16

Carousel Ads For Instagram Stories

Instagram offers 2 types of carousel ads for placement in Stories:

1. Native Stories Carousel 

Displays up to 3 cards with full-screen, only available as a standalone Stories placement

Minimum number of cards: 2

Maximum number of cards: 3

Ratio: 9:16

Recommended resolution: 1080×1920

2. Expandable Stories Carousel

Displays 1 – 3 cards automatically, but allows viewers to tap “keep watching” to reveal up to 10 cards.

Maximum number of cards: 10

Ratio: 9:16

Technical Requirements for Carousel Ads in Feed

Aspect Ratio Tolerance : 1%

Maximum Cards in Carousel Ads : 10

Maximum Video Duration for Carousel videos: 15 seconds

Maximum Video Duration for prompted carousel videos : 60 seconds

Maximum Video Duration: 120 seconds

Instagram Feed Ads

Feed ads show up in users’ news feeds and can be set in several formats:

  • Photo ads
  • Video ads
  • Carousel ads
  • Collection ads
  • Explore feed ads

Below are the size requirements for Instagram feed ads, including square, landscape, and vertical images, plus video ads.

The aspect ratio for all feed ads is the same.

Aspect ratio (all Instagram ads): 

  • Square – 1:1
  • Landscape – 1.91:1
  • Vertical – 4.5

Below are the size requirements for each type of feed ad.

Image Ads in Feed

You can use square or landscape photo ads to tell your story with images.

mage Ads - Use photo ads to tell your story with images.
Source: Instagram

Design Recommendations for Image Ads in Feed

  • File type: jpg or png
  • Resolution: Upload the highest resolution image available that meets the ratio requirements.
  • Text: Two rows of text

Square Images in Feed Ads

  • Minimum resolution: 600 x 500 pixels
  • Maximum resolution: 1936 x 1936 pixels
  • Maximum file size: 30MB
  • Aspect ratio: 1:1

Landscape Images in Feed Ads

  • Minimum Resolution (600 x 315 pixels)
  • Maximum Resolution (1936 x 1936 pixels)
  • Maximum file size: 30MB
  • Aspect ratio: 1.91:1

Vertical Images in Feed Ads

  • Minimum Resolution (600 x 750 pixels)
  • Maximum Resolution (1936 x 1936 pixels)
  • Maximum file size: 30MB
  • Aspect ratio: 4:5

Instagram Image Ad Specs

Instagram Image Ads in Feed Specs

Video Ads in Feed

You can use landscape or square video format for feed video ads.

Instagram volvo video ad

  • Video format: MP4 (preferred)
  • Video file size: up to 4 GB max
  • Video length: up to 120 seconds
  • Caption length: 2200 characters (captions optional)
    Video thumbnail images that consist of more than 20% text may experience reduced delivery. Captions are optional.

To create the best quality videos, upload the highest resolution possible and do not include letter or pillar boxing (no black bars).

Most video types are supported, but Instagram recommends:

  • H.264 compression
  • Square pixels
  • Fixed frame rate
  • Progressive scan
  • Stereo AAC audio compression at 128kbps+

You can find out more about Instagram video requirements by visiting its one-sheeter video requirements here.

Ultimate Guide to Instagram Stories for Business in 2020 cover image
Instagram Video Ads in Feed Specs

Carousel Ads in Feed

Carousel ads let you share 2 – 10 videos or images in a single ad, and each can have its own link. 

For example, Air France uses Carousels to highlight different cities and airfares.


Specs for Carousel Ads in Instagram Feed

Number of cards: 2 – 10

Image file type: jpg or png

Video file type: Supported file formats

Video maximum file size: 4GB

Video length: up to 60 seconds

Minimum resolution: at least 1080 x 1080px

Maximum resolution: There is no maximum resolution

Recommended resolution: The highest resolution that meets the ratio

Carousel ratio: 1:1

Text: Two rows

Headline: One row

Images that consist of more than 20% text may experience reduced delivery.

Technical Requirements

Aspect ratio tolerance : 1%

Maximum text length : 2200

Maximum hashtags in text : 30

Maximum cards in the carousel ads : 10

Instagram Collection Ads in Feed

Collection ads encourage viewers to browse and purchase your products. You can combine images and videos in collection ads.

For example, Ashley Homestore’s collection ad displays collections of furniture.

collection ad example

Collection ads Include a cover image or video and a collection of product images or videos.

When users click on something within a collection, it takes them to Instant Experience, a fullscreen image experience. 

Collection Ads are good for:

  • Conversions
  • Traffic
  • Product Sales
  • Store visits?

The cover of your Collection ad is the first image or video in your full screen canvas template. Headlines don’t show, but up to 90 characters of text can be used.

Collection Ads Come In The Following Templates:

1. Storefront template for Collection Ad

Storefront templates are catalogs of four or more products that show up in a grid. They’re great for showcasing one main video or image plus a collection of related products. “

Storefront templates are great for driving traffic to your website or app. And, they’re excellent when you want to group products into categories!

Boost your saleds with lovlink

2. Lookbook  template for Collection Ad

Bring your products to life with these templates that can bring a print catalog to life. Use them to tell your brand story.

Lookbook templates are ideal for driving sales conversions!

3. Customer Acquisition  template for Collection Ad

Drive users to mobile landing pages and convert them to customers or subscribers!

This template is the one to use when you want users to take action on your app or your website.

4. Storytelling  template for Collection Ad

Inspire people to explore your business by engaging them with storytelling. Use this template to tell your brand or product stories.

This is an excellent way to send traffic to your website or mobile app!!

collection template instant storefront
Storefront template, source: FB
collection template instant lookbook
Lookbook template
collection template instant customer acquisition
Customer Acquisition template
Storytelling template
Storytelling template

How to Create a Collections Ad

In this section, we’ll walk you through the 4 steps you need to take to create a Collections ad.

1. To get started, head over to the Facebook Ads Manager, which is where you manage Instagram advertising.

HT collections ads FB mgr

2. Next, choose one of the following Collection Ad objectives:

  • Traffic
  • Conversions
  • Catalog sales
  • Store traffic
Collections ads choose objective

3. Choose “Instagram Feed.” You can also run this ad in Facebook feed.

4. Follow the guided ad creation process in Ad Manager.

Facebook Ad Manager walks you through choosing the following options for your Collections ad:

  • Destination
  • Audience
  • Budget
  • Schedule

Ad manager also steps you through creating your ad. Expect to select your template and create an Instant Experience.

Along the way, you’ll see previews of your ad.

It helps to have both mobile and desktop nearby during this process so you can view your ad in both formats.

Best Design Specs for Instagram Collections Ads 

For the best quality Collection ads, use the following guidelines.

Create a shoppable product gallery from your Instagram posts in minutes!

Best Video Specs for Collections Ads

  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 or 1:1
  • Video: H.264 video compression, high profile preferred, square pixels, fixed frame rate, progressive scan
  • Audio: Stereo AAC audio compression, 128 kbps
Best Video Specs for Collections Ads instagram

Best Image Specs for Collections Ads

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.9:1
  • Image Size: 1,200 x 628 pixels recommended
  • For Instagram: Square (1:1), full landscape / horizontal (16:9) and slideshow. Aspect Ratios higher than 1:1 aren’t supported on Instagram.
Best Image Specs for Collections Ads infographic

Best Slideshow Specs for Collection Ads

  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9, 1:1, 2:3 (slideshow automatically crops to 1:1 if each image is a different size)
  • Video: H.264 video compression, high profile preferred, square pixels, fixed frame rate, progressive scan
  • Audio: Stereo AAC audio compression, 128 kbps
  • Music: WAV, MP3, M4A, FLAC, OGG

Note: You must have all legal rights necessary to use a song in your ad; read more about copyright here.

Best Slideshow Specs for Collection Ads infographic

Best Ad Copy Specs for Collections Ads

  • Body: 90 characters recommended
  • Headline: Does not apply because Instagram does not support headlines
Best Ad Copy Specs for Collections Ads infographic

Best Catalog Product Set Specs for Collections Ads

  • Minimum amount of products required in product set: 4
  • Minimum amount of products required in product set for Instant Storefront: 12

Note: Instagram does not support headlines

Best Catalog Product Set Specs for Collections Ads infographic

Explore Feed Ads

Expand your Instagram feed ads to Explore feeds to reach audiences that are actively searching for products or services like yours.

83% of Instagrammers use Explore feeds to discover new products or services.

IG Explore feed ads

Source: Instagram

Branded Content Ads for Instagram Stories, Feed, or Explore Feed

Instagram’s branded content ads allow you to promote your Instagram influencer posts as Feed and Stories Ads.

IG branded content ads examples

Source: Instagram

Typically, when brands hire an influencer, their products get exposed to the influencer’s audience. This is a big help in growing brand followings and boosting engagement rates.

Monitor Competitors Ads With Sharelov

How to create a branded content ad:

  1.  Give the creator permission to tag your business in their branded content feed post or Story.
  2. Set up your campaign in Ads Manager.

Branded content ads are an excellent opportunity for businesses! Now, you can gain even more exposure from influencer promotions and campaigns.

Monitor Top Influencers on Facebook

How to Place Ads on Instagram

Instagram shares Facebook’s Ad Manager.

This means you have countless options for tailoring ads to your buyer personas, plus an intuitive, intelligent interface that helps you choose advertisements that match your campaign objective.

Before you place Instagram ads, make sure to ask for your team’s input!

Create, share, and get approvals from your team - before your Instagram ads are published

Tailor your advertising audience with options such as:

Ad Targeting by Location

Target people living in specific cities, states, or countries.


Target your ads toward a specific age group, gender, languages, and more.


Target viewers by the type of apps they buy, ads they click on, and accounts they follow.


Target ad viewers based upon their behavior on and off of social media.

Custom Audiences

Use your email database or phone list to create an audience.

Lookalike Audiences

Let Instagram find people who are similar to your current customers.

Automated Targeting

Instagram’s automation can choose an audience based on what its intelligence has learned about you and your followers.

Instagram makes it easy and affordable for brands to buy paid advertising, and they allow you to set your own budget so you can create a campaign that fits your business.

Instagram ad costs depend on many factors, but the average cost-per-click hovers around $0.50 – $1.00 and can go up to $3.00.

3 Ways to Place Ads on Instagram

There are three ways to place ads on Instagram: within the app or Ads Manager, or through Instagram partner companies.

#1 – Manage Ads From Within The App For Promoted Posts

Promoted posts can be placed by navigating to the post and tapping “promote.”

The simplest way to run paid advertising is by promoting posts that you’ve already created. Select the ones that have had the best response and most engagement! 

To promote a post, select it within the app when you’re logged into your business account. Then, tap the “Promote” button in the lower right corner to get started.

tastycreamery promoted post

#2 – Use Facebook Ads Manager

All the different types of Instagram ads can be placed through the Facebook Ad Manager.

As you probably know, Instagram is owned by Facebook. So, you’ll use Facebook’s Ad Manager to place your Instagram ads.

Ads manager IG Facebppl

Source: Facebook Ads Manager

Using the ad manager is the most popular way to create ads unless you’re promoting a post (then see #1 above).

#3 – Manage Ads Through Instagram Partners

If you’re working with an agency, they can place Instagram ads on your behalf.

Instagram partners are agencies and other businesses that can help improve your results on the platform. Partners specialize in one of the following areas of expertise:

  • Ad Tech: Helps buy and manage ads
  • Community Management: helps manage comments and gain key audience insights
  • Creative Platforms: Help with sourcing and delivering both content and creative

Learn more about Instagram Partners by visiting Facebook Solutions Explorer.

Instagram Ads Offer Amazing Opportunities for Brands

Placing ads on Instagram can help you achieve almost any marketing objective, no matter what size business you are. 

Keep this article bookmarked, so you can use it as a reference for design specs for your Stories and Feed ads. And sign up for our newsletter before you go so we can let you know when more Instagram advertising guides are available!

Up Your Social Media Game, try Sharelov for free!

Have you tried Instagram ads to grow your business? We’d love to hear about it! Tell us about what you’ve learned in the comments below.

Instagram Ad Specs 2020
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