In January, 2017 Instagram launched Stories Ads privately with 30 different brands, among them Airbnb, Netflix, and Nike. After a successful launch, the program was opened up to all sellers, and the program has been gathering steam ever since, because it provides a very unique way of engaging with customers in any specific target market.
What exactly are Stories Ads?
Stories Ads are very similar to Snapchat's Stories, in that they provide photo and video streams which are interspersed with the stories created by people being followed by users. The videos and photos play in succession along with those stories, until all the Stories Ads have played. What they amount to is a brief advertisement which appears between user stories, and they adapt to the same format as the story, so that the user experience is consistent and not disjointed.
Stories Ads can consist of either a single photo or a video of 15 seconds duration, and they are most useful when targeting specific business goals. For instance, brand recognition may be the intent of a Stories Ad, or increasing website sales may be the whole point. At any rate, this is the first time that Instagram has provided a vehicle for advertisers to display full screen ads within the app.
This of course, gives you the opportunity to occupy the user's complete attention, even if it's only for 15 seconds at a time. However, just like ads on television, Stories Ads can be skipped if a user decides to tap on the screen while it's running. In order to get the most out of your Stories Ad, you'll have to make it somehow so compelling that users will let the entire ad play out, so they can see your complete message.
How to be successful with Stories Ads
It's extremely important to capture the attention of viewers whom you are targeting with your Stories Ads, because not only do you have only seconds to make your point, but the messages cannot be returned to, so users will only see them once. If you haven't convinced the user in the 10 or 15 seconds it takes to play your Ad, you will have lost your opportunity.
In order to create the best impression in a very brief period of time, it's essential that you use only high-quality media, whether you are creating photos or video content. Photos will only be displayed for 10 seconds, while videos can last up to 15 seconds, and that means users must quickly understand your message and decide to take some kind of action immediately afterward, or the Ad will have been wasted.
Strong visuals must be used, and users must be engaged by clear messaging, followed by a compelling urge to take some kind of action. The best way to make an impression with the user when you're running a photo is to make it bright and bold, with a very simple message, and obvious branding.
Make it very clear to the user who your company is, what it does, and how you can be of service to them, before the ad ends. Facebook recommends images with a resolution of 1080 x 1920, along with a 9:16 aspect ratio for best display.
How your organization should be using Instagram Stories Ads
The best way for your organization to become involved with using Stories Ads is to begin by experimenting with video ads. It is known that videos hold people's attention five times longer than still images do, and with the attention spans of Internet users growing progressively shorter, one of the best ways you can compensate for that is by integrating video ads into your Instagram stories.
The first 3 to 5 seconds of a video are crucial for connecting to the user and getting their attention, so that they'll hang around to watch the full 15 second video ad. One eye wear company has already hit upon an extremely successful campaign using a 15 second video clip to showcase eight of their products through a looping GIF-style image. While your first attempt at capturing users’ attention may not hit the jackpot, with just a few productions of Stories Ads, you should get better each time at capturing user interest.
Tips for being successful with Stories Ads
All of the following tips have already been discovered by Instagram Stories Ads users, and have proven very helpful in perfecting the technique necessary to produce successful Stories Ads. First of all, your main message has to get right to the point, because there's no time for lead-ins or for being coy about it.
Make sure to include your brand information or logo, because your stories will not be viewed just by your followers, but by everyone in your target audience, and some of them may not be familiar with your brand. The last thing you want to do is produce an award-winning ad, and forget to identify the company which made the ad.
While we’re on the subject of branding, it's very important to make sure that your stories Ads mesh well with your overall Instagram aesthetic and your Stories style, so that you maintain engagement and have the opportunity to increase brand recognition.
Keep in mind that your ads don't need to look like polished masterpieces, and in fact a more authentic, homemade ad is often more appealing to users, because it resonates with them more readily. Somehow you have to create a compelling call to action within your photo or video add content, and that means you'll need to create a sense of urgency, such as with a limited time offer, or some other kind of exclusive deal for your viewers.
Since each ad will automatically carry a 'Sponsored' tag at the top right corner of the screen, you should try and draw attention away from that, by presenting your main message in the middle of the screen. It's even better if you can do this immediately, since you have so little time to get your message across.
Instagram has announced that upwards of 60% of Stories Ads are being viewed with the sound on, and you should be taking advantage of this because it will make your message more compelling, and will engage your audience more fully.
Get Familiar with Building Instagram Ads for your Retail Business
If you're looking to Build a successful Instagram Ad strategy for your retail business we have a few tips to help you get started. To see how you can use Instagram ads for your retail business, check out our pillar page on how to Build a successful Instagram ad strategy for your retail business.