How to Create Engaging Instagram Story Ads for Your Brand

Apr 8, 2024
Apr 8, 2024
12 min
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Instagram Story ads

It’s time to stop making forgettable Instagram Story ads. Learn how to create ads that stick and drive up your ROI. Full lowdown inside.

Do your Instagram Story ads often feel like they're being overlooked, disappearing without making any waves? You're not alone and you’ve come to the right place. Today, I’m showing you how to run Instagram Story ads that make people click.

Can you run ads on Instagram Story?

Yep, Instagram Stories ads are still going strong! They’re still a great way to engage with your audience and promote your brand.

Here are some key points as to why ads in Instagram Stories should be included in your creative strategy:

  1. Maximum visibility: Instagram Stories occupy prime real estate at the top of users’ feeds, making them highly visible. Whenever you share a new story, your Instagram account pops up at the top of your followers' feed, adorned with a vibrant ring around the avatar. It's like a beacon signaling, "Hey, there's fresh content here, and it's worth checking out!" So, leverage the attention this prime spot receives.
  2. Attractive format: Instagram Story ads, similarly to Reels, are full-screen vertical videos or images. They occupy the entire screen, ensuring maximum impact and attention.
  3. Direct traffic to your site: Story ads can include a swipe-up call to action. When users swipe up, they can visit a specific link, such as your website or a product page.
  4. Increased brand engagement: Users can engage with IG Story ads by swiping up, tapping, or replying directly. This ensures that there’s always a two-way conversation happening between your brand and audience.

How to create an Instagram Story ad

There are two ways to create an Instagram Story ad: You can either create it in Meta Ads Manager or you can simply boost a Story. I will be demonstrating both ways, starting with the Facebook Ads Manager method.

Before you begin ☝️ Make sure you have set up an Instagram business account to run the ad from. 

  1. Go to Meta Ads Manager and click ‘Create campaign.’
Meat Ads Manager - Create campaign
  1. Choose one of the 6 campaign objectives. You can choose from leads, awareness, engagement, traffic, sales, and app promotion. For the sake of this demonstration, I have chosen to go for an ‘Awareness’ campaign so note that your setup will look slightly different. Afterward, click ‘Continue.’
Meta Ads Manager - choose campaign objective

  1. Add details like the campaign name and a special ad category if it applies, and decide whether to run an A/B test or turn on Advantage campaign budget. Once you're done, simply click 'Next' to proceed.
Meta Ads Manager - Campaign details
  1. Name your ad set and add your performance goals.
Advantage+ catalog ads - ad set name and performance goals
  1. Add your budget & schedule details.
Meta Ads Manager - Budget Scheduling details
  1. Select your audience location and adjust the language settings if necessary. Plus, you can exclude those who already know about your brand to ensure your campaign is targeted toward reaching new audiences.
Meta Ads Manager - Audience controls
  1. You also have the option to allow Advantage+ audience to find the audience for you automatically. Selecting an existing audience as an audience suggestion allows Advantage+ audience to pinpoint similar audiences for you.
Advantage+ Audience
  1. Choose a manual placement and select ‘Instagram’ as the platform. Under the ‘Stories and Reels’ placement, select ‘Stories’ in the dropdown menu. Tap ‘Next’ when done.
Meta Ads Manager - Placements
  1. Now, give your ad a name and check that you’re publishing from the correct business accounts for your online store. You can also select between a single image or video, carousel, or collection ad format.
Meta Ads Manager - create an Instagram Story ad
  1. In this section, you have the choice to add music (highly recommended), as well as your headline, primary text, link description, call to action, and ad destination.
Meta Ads Manager - Story ad creative

Your ad destination is where you want people to go after they click on your call to action. You can send them to your website or an instant mobile-optimized experience. The browser add-ons allow you to add contact methods for people to connect with you.

Meta Ads Manager - ad destination
  1. Here, you can also add URL parameters to the end of your website URL to track where your visitors are coming from. If you would like your ad to reach people in more languages, switch on the ‘Languages’ button to automatically translate your ad. Then, you need to ensure that your Meta Pixel is set up so that you can effectively track and measure user interactions on your website. You can read our comprehensive guide on how to set up your Meta Pixel
Meta Ads Manager - tracking
  1. That’s it. You’re ready to hit ‘Publish!’

How to boost an Instagram Story?

For those wondering "What is boost story on Instagram," here's the scenario: You've shared a fantastic Story and your audience is loving it, with engagement steadily climbing. It’s a good idea to boost it so you can reach a larger audience and increase your chances of generating more conversions. 

This is how you boost an active Instagram Story:

  1. Go to your Instagram business profile and click on your profile picture to access the Story you want to promote.
Instagram Profile - Boost Story
  1. At the bottom right of your Story, tap ‘More.’
Instagram - More button
  1. Then, click ‘Boost story.’
Instagram - Boost Story button
  1. Add the details of your ad, such as goal, audience, budget, and duration. Then, tap ‘Next.’
Instagram Story boost - set goal audience, and budget
  1. Afterward, preview your ad and tap ‘Boost story’ to boost the IG Story.

Once you've submitted an ad for Meta’s review, expect to receive notifications at various stages: during the review process, upon approval or disapproval, and finally, when the campaign wraps up.

Should your Facebook ad get stuck in review longer than expected, this guide offers strategies to expedite the process and minimize future wait times.

🛎️ Boosted stories will continue to run for the duration you specify, even after the original story on your profile expires in 24 hours. This means your boosted story can keep engaging audiences as an ad for as long as you desire. Additionally, you have the option to boost archived and highlighted stories as well.

Instagram Story ads specs

These are the specs and ad sizes you need to adhere to to optimize your images and videos for Instagram Stories.

Instagram Stories image ads

DHL Instagram Story ad
  • Minimum width: 500 pixels
  • Maximum file size: 30MB
  • Minimum resolution: 1080×1080 pixels
  • Recommended ratio: 9:16
  • Recommended image formats: JPG, PNG


Primary text: 125 characters

Instagram Stories video ads

  • Minimum width: 500 pixels
  • Maximum file size: 4GB
  • Minimum resolution: 1080×1080 pixels
  • Recommended ratio: 9:16
  • Video length: 1 second to 60 minutes
  • Recommended video formats: MP4, MOV, GIF
  • Video sound: Optional but recommended
  • Video captions: Optional but recommended


Primary text: 125 characters

How much do Instagram Story ads cost?

Typically, Instagram Story ads are priced based on metrics such as cost per click (CPC), cost per thousand impressions (CPM), or cost per action (CPA). 

On average, expect the CPC for Instagram Stories to be around $1.83. In highly competitive industries like travel and fashion, the cost of Instagram ads can climb up to $2 or more per click. On the flip side, in less competitive industries, you could pay as little as $0.25 per click.

The average CPA hovers around $3.56, while in terms of CPM, you can expect to face an average of about $11 at the moment.

Instagram Stories CPM 2024

What are the best practices for creating Instagram Story ads?

Before diving headfirst into your Instagram Story ads, consider these best practices to ensure you create impactful ads that people can’t ignore.

Make them move 🕺

Instagram Story ads are all about grabbing attention quickly, so it's essential to be mindful of pace. When scrolling through Stories, people's attention spans are notably short so it's crucial to jump straight to the point and hook them right from the start.

Use eye-catching animations, transitions, and dynamic elements to make your ads stand out. Whether it’s a product demonstration or a product review, movement keeps the eyeballs glued to the screen.

Make them loud 📣

Fun fact: Around 70% of people watch Stories with the sound on. That means you've got more room to play around with cool visuals and catchy tunes in your ads. It's all about creating an experience that sticks with your customers and sound does this by evoking emotions.

Make them proud 🏅

Your brand’s identity should shine through. Use consistent fonts, colors, and visual elements that align with your overall branding. This will ensure that you’re instantly recognizable. Showcase your unique selling points and highlight what sets you apart from competitors. 

Make them big 💼

Instagram Stories occupy the entire screen, so use this valuable real estate wisely. Opt for high-resolution images and videos. Bold text overlays and clear calls to action (CTAs) ensure viewers don’t miss your message or fumble around on your ad.

Make them speak 🗣️

Add compelling ad copy. Whether it’s a short tagline, a question, or a teaser, words matter. Use concise language that encourages action. Remember, viewers swipe quickly, so make every word count. 

Depending on your ad’s content, you can also add subtitles to ensure that your message is accessible to everyone.

Make them shout 📢

"Ask, and you shall receive!" When it concerns ads and calls to action, assertiveness is key. This is not the moment to hold back from clearly communicating your desired action. Would you like them to shop immediately? Let them know. Do you want them to follow you on Instagram? Ask them to.

Inspiring Instagram Story ads examples

Alright, now that we've delved into the nitty gritty of IG Story advertising, you might be asking, "What does a good Story ad look like?" Let's examine a few exceptional Meta ads examples to draw inspiration from:

1. Aurezzi

Why it stands out:

Aurezzi, a luxury oral care brand, exudes opulence (almost) effortlessly. I've observed a growing trend among brands to forego text entirely, allowing the product to convey its own message. I recommend this approach primarily for established brands rather than for small brands seeking to introduce themselves.

While this ad appears minimalistic at first, its impact is anything but. By featuring multiple beautiful models and partnering with music industry mogul DJ Khaled, Aurezzi has maximized its impact. 

Furthermore, they've skillfully blended high-quality images and videos to introduce visual variety. And it's nearly impossible not to tap along to the dramatic beat that accompanies it all.

2. Maybelline

Why it stands out:

Brands must continuously seek captivating methods to halt viewers from swiping past. Maybelline's approach in this ad is notably bold, employing a confrontational tactic to grab attention. The host's direct gaze coupled with the playful assertion, "Don't adjust your set," breaks the fourth wall, immediately piquing curiosity. After all, who wouldn't be intrigued by such a statement?

While makeup ads often look similar, Maybelline breaks the mold by adopting the format of popular 90s telemarketing live-selling shows. This departure from the norm injects freshness into the advertisement, prompting even the most complacent individuals to pause and engage out of sheer curiosity.

3. Dunkin’ Donuts

Why it stands out:

Dunkin’ Donuts wanted to introduce a new lineup of fizzy energy drinks. While they could’ve captured extensive HD footage of the new drinks, they decided to crank up the energy in this launch ad. 

This ad is a great example of how shaking things up with vibrant animation can benefit your brand. Between the whirls and swirls and the swooshing and swishing of the liquids, my eyes weren’t given a chance to become bored. That’s exactly how you keep people from swiping your brand away on Instagram Stories.

Moreover, integrating animation into your content ensures freshness for your audience. Keeping them guessing about your next move is key to sustained interest and engagement.

Plus, as mentioned earlier, most Instagram users watch videos with the sound on. Dunkin' Donuts is capitalizing on this by selecting an equally energetic tune to accompany the juicy visuals.

4. Aveeno

Aveeno Instagram Story ad

Why it stands out:

This image exemplifies how brands can leverage a blend of mediums, incorporating both real image stills and illustrations to enhance their content. What I found particularly appealing about this brand's approach is how they ingeniously repurposed an existing product shot, breathing new life into it with a subtle illustration. 

By making simple adjustments like altering the bottle position, adding a different illustration, and introducing a different colored background, they could effortlessly craft another ad if they wanted to. This is a great hack for stretching out your content.

Another aspect I admired is the not-so-subtle hand gesture pointing towards the cart, serving as a powerful call to action. It’s worth experimenting with different CTA approaches to see what works for your target audience.

5. Weet-Bix

Why it stands out:

This breakfast cereal ad stands out for its clever use of social commentary, specifically mentioning Instagram in a way that feels tailored to the platform. 

It acknowledges the Instagram culture of showcasing beautifully crafted food photos but turns the narrative around by emphasizing that while Instagram may not favor this seemingly plain-looking, colorant, and preservative-free biscuit, your body will surely appreciate it.

This approach feels relatable because it acknowledges the common behavior of Instagram users while also emphasizing the product's health benefits. By effectively tapping into this social commentary, the ad creates a connection with the audience, making them feel understood by the brand.

Create engaging Instagram Story ads with Madgicx 

If you're wondering, 'How on earth am I going to keep up with all those ads?' This section is for you. With Madgicx's Creative Workflow, all you need is a vision, and we take care of the rest. 

Within the Creative Workflow lies Madgicx's Ad Library, where you can explore the finest Meta ads by category, ad format, and ad type. And yes, you can even check out your competitors' ads to see what they're currently up to.

Madgicx's Ad Library

After discovering and saving the ads you love, simply submit a quick brief via Sparkle. We’ll quickly match you with the best designer for the job, ensuring your designs are in your inbox within 48 hours. 

Once you’ve given a nod of approval, your designs will be loaded to Meta Ads Manager so you can launch the ads there or from inside Madgicx.

Want to see if Madgicx’s Ad Library works for you? Try it free for 7 days - no commitment necessary.

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Apr 8, 2024
Apr 8, 2024
Annette Nyembe

Digital copywriter with a passion for sculpting words that resonate in a digital age.

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