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Toolkit Tuesday: How to Create an Instagram Ad

In September, Instagram opened up advertising to businesses of all sizes across the U.S. and in 30 countries. With a highly engaged user base, excellent targeting options and strong results from early ads, Instagram has a lot to make it appealing to advertisers. We’ve put together a detailed tutorial below to show you how to create an Instagram ad. If Instagram is a platform that fits well with your brand and product offerings, and you’re ready to test it out with some ad dollars, read on.  If you’ve ever advertised on Facebook, then creating your Instagram ads will be a piece of cake

how to create an instagram ad

In September, Instagram opened up advertising to businesses of all sizes across the U.S. and in 30 countries. With a highly engaged user base, excellent targeting options and strong results from early ads, Instagram has a lot to make it appealing to advertisers. We’ve put together a detailed tutorial below to show you how to create an Instagram ad. If Instagram is a platform that fits well with your brand and product offerings, and you’re ready to test it out with some ad dollars, read on. 

If you’ve ever advertised on Facebook, then creating your Instagram ads will be a piece of cake because it uses the same platform. That’s right, you set up your Instagram ads right from Facebook ads manager or Power Editor. We recommend using Power Editor because of its advanced targeting options (here’s our Power Editor Tutorial), so that’s the method I’ll show you below.

How to Create an Instagram Ad with Power Editor

Note: In order to get started with Instagram advertising, you’ll need a Facebook Page for the brand or business you wish to advertise.

To get started, go to your Facebook Ads Manager (in the left sidebar of your news feed page) and click on Power Editor in the menu.

The Power Editor dashboard can be a bit overwhelming if you are a newbie. Here’s a helpful tip to keep things straight: Like Facebook ads, Instagram ads come in three parts – the Campaign, the Ad Set and the Ads. At any time, you can go to the level you want to edit by clicking on the corresponding icon on the far left of your screen.

how to create an instagram ad

Here’s a brief overview of the three parts:

  • Campaign – The top level, where you select the objective of your ad campaign. The Ad Set and Ads will be under the umbrella of the Campaign.
  • Ad Set – This is where you set your budget, ad schedule, audience targeting selections (such as geographic location, demographics and interests) and ad placement.
  • Ads – This is where you create and edit the actual ads that will appear in users’ feeds.

Create Your Campaign

Once in the Power Editor dashboard, make sure you are on the Manage Ads tab and click on “Create Campaign.”

how to create an instagram ad

Buying Type – select “Auction” – this is currently the only option for Instagram.

how to create an instagram ad

Objective – What do you want people to do when they view your ad? Choose one of the objectives that is compatible with Instagram: clicks to website, website conversions, page post engagement, mobile app installs, mobile app engagement or video views.

how to create an instagram ad

Choose Your Ad Set – If you’ve previously advertised on Facebook, you can select an existing ad set. Otherwise, choose to create a new ad set and give it a name.

Define Your Ad Set

The Ad Set is where you determine the who, where, when and how much of your ad campaign.

Budget – Choose Daily or Lifetime Budget, and set the amount you wish to spend. (Note: with Lifetime budget, you have additional options for when your ads appear – more on that below). Over to the right, you’ll see an estimate of the number of users your ad will reach.

how to create an instagram ad

Ad Scheduling – Here’s where you can opt to only show your ads on certain days and times, if you selected a Lifetime Budget in the previous step. For instance, if you are advertising a B2B brand you might choose to only show your ad during business hours, or if you are a retail brand you may choose to only show your ad in the evenings, when users are more likely to shop online.  

how to create an instagram ad

Audience – Ah ha. Here is where the magic happens. Thanks to its all-knowing and all-powerful parent (Facebook), Instagram offers the ability to target ads to very specific user demographics and interests.

Click “Edit Audience” and make your selections for the exact type of Instagram user you wish to target – specifically, the parameters that define your target audience. Your options here include geographic location, age, gender and language, as well as:

  • demographics (e.g., education level, relationship status or job title)
  • interests (e.g. parenting, fashion, cooking)
  • online behaviors (e.g., business traveler, watches TV dramas)

how to create an instagram ad

Under “Connections,” you can also target (or exclude) certain users based on whether they Like a certain Facebook Page, have used a certain app or responded to an event on Facebook.

When you’re finished with your targeting selections, click Save.

Placement – Choose where your ad(s) will appear. Keep in mind you can show the same ad on both Instagram and Facebook.

how to create an instagram ad

Optimization and Pricing – Choose what action to optimize for and your bidding option. If you’re new to advertising, it is probably best to just choose automatic and let Facebook do this for you. Here’s a great article if you’re interested in learning more about Facebook ads optimization and bidding.

how to create an instagram ad

Build Your Ad

Now it’s time to create your ad. Choose the Facebook Page for the brand or business you want to advertise. If you haven’t already done so, you’ll also need to connect your Instagram account. 

how to create an instagram ad

Create Ad – You can create an ad from an existing post, or build a new one. The ad can show an image, a video or a carousel of images/videos (at no extra charge). You can also select “video” and do an image slideshow that will play like a video in users’ feeds.

Enter your ad copy. If you’re using the carousel option, choose the number of images (or videos) you wish to include by clicking the “+” to add more, or clicking “Remove” to have fewer. Next, you’ll click on each number one by one, and add the link and image that will accompany that spot in the carousel. There is only one caption (ad copy) regardless of whether you have multiple images.

how to create an instagram ad

 

Next, upload your images. Be sure to pay attention to the image specifications, including recommended dimensions. Just like with Facebook ads, your image cannot have more than 20% text or your ad may be rejected.

Once you have uploaded and selected all of your images for the ad, choose a call-to-action button.

how to create an instagram ad

Over to the right, you can view a preview of your ad and click through each of the images. If you need to crop or adjust an image, just click on the corresponding image number and click “Crop image.”

how to create an instagram ad

Finally, set up tracking. This step is optional, but super important because it allows you to track the actions and conversions of users who click through from the ad to your website. To use tracking with Instagram ads, you’ll need to have chosen the “Clicks to website” type of campaign and you’ll need to create something called a Facebook pixel. Note: Facebook says that they will be “removing the conversion tracking pixel in the second half of 2016,” so it’s best to install the Facebook pixel instead. Review Facebook’s advertiser help center for more details and instructions. 

The Last Step – Don’t forget this step, or your ads won’t run! When you have everything set and ready to go, click the green “Upload Changes” button at the top of the Power Editor dashboard. This will upload your campaign, ad set and ads into your Facebook Ads Manager and schedule your ads to run at the date and time you specified.

how to create an instagram adNote that you can always go in and make edits to your ads up until they start running, either in your Ads Manager or in Power Editor, but be sure to upload your changes every time you work in Power Editor.

Congratulations! You’ve successfully created your first Instagram ad campaign. The important thing now? Track, measure, track, A/B test and track some more. Experiment with different images and calls-to-action to see what gets you the best ROI.


Need help with your social media marketing? From content creation to community engagement to influencer marketing, we’ll help you develop and implement a strategy to connect with the right audience and drive measurable results. Contact us.

Heather Allen

Belle's first employee. Lover of great food, good books and spreadsheets. Mom of three. Native Floridian and city girl residing in the cornfields of central Illinois.