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How Many Types of Instagram Ads Are There?

In recent years, Instagram has experienced a notable rise in popularity, now boasting more than 1.3 billion active users. Businesses are increasingly recognizing the platform’s potential as it provides a unique opportunity to connect with their target audience through visual content.

Different types of Instagram ads are available for businesses to employ in reaching their intended market, each type offering distinct benefits.

I am Jane from Influence, the leading marketing agency in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. I will explore these Instagram ad types in this blog, helping you choose the most effective option for your business.

What are Instagram ads?

Instagram ads are special posts promoting business products or services on Instagram. Using user data from Facebook (both owned by Meta), they target specific groups. With over 1.3 billion monthly users, businesses can create cost-effective Instagram ads tailored to user preferences, adjusting plans based on budget. 

Types of Instagram ads

There are 8 types of Instagram ads:

  • Photo ads
  • Video ads
  • Carousel ads
  • Story ads
  • Collection ads
  • Explore ads
  • Shopping ads
  • Reels ads

Let’s delve into each of them.

Format-based Instagram Ads

Broadly speaking, the format-based types refer to content categorized based on their format, typically found within the regular Instagram feed. The following list shows how these types primarily differ in their presentation.

Photo ads

Photo ads are singular image advertisements in users’ Instagram feeds. They offer a straightforward yet impactful means to present products or services and can effectively channel traffic to a website or landing page.

This option is generally more economical, but its potential power becomes apparent when used strategically. Beyond its cost-effectiveness, this ad type places a strong emphasis on the photo itself. Therefore, if you have a professionally designed, high-quality photo for your ad, this type is suitable. A photo ad may feature a concise caption, a call-to-action button, and a link to an external website or landing page.

instagram photo ads

Video Ads

Video ads share similarities with photo ads, but they use videos rather than photos to communicate the message. While Instagram videos can extend up to 60 minutes, it is advisable to opt for much shorter durations for your ad.

Using video ads proves to be an excellent method for telling your brand’s story or highlighting your product in action. This format enables you to present in a more captivating way compared to photos.

instagram video ads

Carousel Ads

Carousel ads enable businesses to present numerous images or videos within a single ad unit. Users can swipe through these visuals, providing a more immersive experience. This ad type is particularly well-suited for narrating a sequential story, showcasing product features, or presenting a variety of products.

instagram carousel ads

Collection Ads

Similar to Carousel Ads, the Collection Ads format incorporates multiple photos as part of its content. The key distinction lies in their display method: while Carousel Ads present pictures in a carousel format, Collection Ads showcase the images in a unified layout, hence the name.

Collection ads are specifically tailored for e-commerce businesses, offering users the ability to shop directly from within the ad. Clicking on the ad redirects users to a dedicated section of the app, enabling them to explore multiple products without exiting Instagram.

These ads include a cover image or video and multiple product images below, facilitating seamless browsing and purchasing for users.

instagram collection ads

Section-based Instagram Ads

Now that you’ve gained insight into the format-based types, let’s delve into the section-based ones. Section-based ads are displayed in various other sections of Instagram. 

Stories Ads

Instagram Stories ads consist of full-screen vertical images or videos seamlessly integrated between users’ stories. These ads provide an excellent way to create engaging and immersive experiences. To boost interactivity in your story ad, consider using stickers, GIFs, text overlays, and other creative elements.

instagram stories ads

Explore Ads

Explore ads are featured in the Explore section of the Instagram app, where users explore new content. They serve as an effective means to connect with a fresh audience and elevate brand awareness.

The Explore section presents “Videos that you might like” or “Similar Posts,” encouraging users to explore content beyond their network based on their previous activity. 

In this section, you can use Image and Video Ads exclusively. It’s important to note that Instagram Explore ads don’t appear directly within the Explore section but are displayed after a user clicks on a photo or video from Explore.

instagram explore ads

Reels Ads

Typically consisting of videos lasting up to 60 seconds, Reels ads are displayed between Reels. Unlike Stories, Reels allow you to create and share short clips that don’t disappear within 24 hours. This feature provides businesses with an opportunity to produce entertaining and imaginative video content, engaging effectively with a younger audience.

instagram reels ads

Formats and specs of Instagram ad types

When creating your ads, it’s crucial to adhere to Instagram’s designated formats and specs. The following outlines the formats and specifications for Instagram ads:

Photo ads

Images can be displayed in both horizontal and vertical orientations, but Meta recommends a square format with a 1:1 ratio.

  • Caption: Up to 125 characters
  • Image Type: JPG or PNG
  • Resolution: Minimum 1080 x 1080 pixels
  • Ratio: 9:16
  • Maximum File Size: 30MB
  • Minimum Width: 500 pixels
  • Aspect Ratio Tolerance: 1%

Video ads

Similar to photos, videos can be presented in either horizontal or vertical orientations, although vertical videos are more fitting for Stories and Reels ads.

  • Caption: Up to 125 characters
  • Maximum Number of Hashtags: 30
  • Video File Type: MP4, MOV, or GIF
  • Ratio: 4:5
  • Resolution: At least 1080 x 1080 pixels
  • Video Captions: Recommended but Optional
  • Video Sound: Recommended but Optional
  • Video Duration: 1 second to 60 minutes
  • Maximum File Size: 250MB
  • Minimum Width: 500 pixels
  • Aspect Ratio Tolerance: 1%

Carousel ads

Carousels can include a mix of both photos and videos.

  • Image File Type: JPG or PNG
  • Video File Type: MP4, MOV, or GIF
  • Ratio: 1:1
  • Resolution: At least 1080 x 1080 pixels
  • Number of Carousel Cards: 2 to 10
  • Image Maximum File Size: 30MB
  • Video Maximum File Size: 4GB
  • Video Duration: 1 second to 2 minutes

Stories ads

Similarly, Stories ads can consist of either videos or images.

  • Image File Type: JPG or PNG
  • Video File Type: MP4, MOV, or GIF
  • Ratio: 9:16
  • Resolution: At least 1080 x 1080 pixels
  • Video Captions: Optional but recommended
  • Video Sound: Optional but recommended

Collection ads

Collection ads blend features of both a carousel and a single photo or video ad.

  • Image File Type: JPG or PNG
  • Video File Type: MP4, MOV, or GIF
  • Ratio: 1.91:1 to 1:1
  • Image Maximum File Size: 30MB
  • Video Maximum File Size: 4GB

Explore ads

These advertisements are visible in Instagram’s “Explore” section. You can consult the specs for photo and video ads.

Reels ads

  • File Type: MP4, MOV
  • Ratio: 9:16
  • Resolution: At least 500 x 888 pixels
  • Video Captions: Optional but recommended
  • Video Sound: Optional but strongly recommended
  • Video Duration: 0 seconds to 15 minutes (preferably within 1 minute)

How to select the right Instagram ad types

Choosing the right Instagram ad type may seem overwhelming due to the variety of options available. Nonetheless, each type offers distinct advantages that businesses can use to reach their target audience.

instagram ads tips

Testing multiple ad types

A practical approach is to experiment with various ad types and let the outcomes guide your decision. Begin with quick campaigns for each type, as a few days can provide valuable insights. 

If your business has specific peak times during the week, consider running ads for five to seven days before evaluating the data, but this method may involve considerable costs.

Choosing based on organic data

For those working with limited budgets, choosing ad types based on prior information is a good strategy. 

Analyze your existing Instagram page and observe which ad types your audience engages with the most. If data is not enough, just consistently post content to gain sufficient data for informed decisions.

Reviewing competitor’s ads

Businesses now show their active ads and placements, accessible across various social media platforms. Explore a competitor’s business page to locate details about their ads. 

Studying your competitors’ strategies provides valuable insights without the need for extensive campaign spending or organic data collection.

Instagram advertising tips for improved results

Now that we’ve examined the different types of Instagram ads, let’s wrap it up with 3 best practices that can be useful in all your digital marketing strategies.

Concluding my exploration of Instagram ad types, let’s summarize with some practical tips for your Instagram ads to improve results.

  • Mobile-Centric Approach:
    • Design creative content with mobile viewing in mind.
    • Opt for a vertical video format (9×16) for easier mobile adaptation.
    • Limit text in ads, ensuring readability on mobile screens.
    • Use animations and motion graphics for quick viewer attention.
    • Keep videos concise, ideally 15 seconds or less.
  • Prominent Branding:
    • Place your main message and brand prominently within the first 3 seconds.
    • Capture viewer attention early to encourage full content viewing.
  • Sound Considerations:
    • Craft ads that make sense without sound, as many users watch without audio.
    • Add captions to spoken words and use on-screen text for the main message.
  • Active Strategy – Present, Explore, Engage:
    • Present: Convey the campaign idea briefly to grab attention.
    • Explore: Create interactive content for interested viewers.
    • Engage: Develop immersive content for a deeper understanding.
  • Diversify Ad Formats:
    • Experiment with various Instagram ad formats to discover audience preferences.
    • Be creative with content, exploring meme ads, custom drawings, or GIFs while maintaining brand consistency.
  • Use Analytics:
    • Leverage Instagram’s reporting tool and external analytics tools to track performance.
    • Analyze metrics such as ad reach, clicks, engagement, and return on investment.
    • Make data-driven decisions to enhance future ad campaigns.

Final notes

Choosing your Instagram ad type is just the first step! After identifying the most effective type, explore Influence’s additional social media marketing suggestions to enhance your business growth. 

If you’re handling campaigns across various social media and advertising platforms, consider working with marketing experts at Influence in terms of paid advertising on Instagram. Contact Influence, and we’ll show you the convenience.

Head office: 1st Floor. KVBC Business Center, Keo Chenda St Phum 3, Sangkat Chroy Changvar, Khan Chroy Changvar, Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

Hotline: (+855) 67 74 00 00

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