How Can I Create Engaging Instagram Video Ads?

Facebook Ads
Mar 11, 2024
Mar 11, 2024
12 min
On this page
Instagram video ads

If your Instagram video ads aren’t bringing in the big bucks, it’s time to bring out the heavy artillery. Learn potent creative ad strategies inside.

Tired of churning out Instagram videos that no one cares about? You're not alone. You’ve landed on the right blog to help you break the cycle of uninspiring content—once and for all. 

Why use Instagram video ads?

Let's get real about your Instagram ad strategy. Instagram video ads aren't just a trend; they're a strong staple if you want to vie for the attention of your current and future audience.

Here's why you need to jump on board with these video ads ASAP:

High engagement. Video ads offer a level of stimulation that static ads simply can't match, particularly on a visually driven platform like Instagram.

Compelling storytelling. If you're aiming to forge a genuine connection with your audience via online advertising, videos allow you to craft narratives that resonate. Figure out what message you want to convey with your ad, and then spin it into a short story.

Massive exposure. With about 2.4 billion active users, Instagram is a goldmine for potential customers. Couple it with Facebook advertising, and you’re tapping into an immense pool of potential leads and opportunities for brand awareness.

Direct calls to action. Don't just hope for clicks—ask for them. Video ads make it easy to guide viewers toward action, whether it's visiting your landing page or making an instant purchase.

Product showcase. Video ads in general let you deliver more details and show a broader range of products and services without the visuals looking overwhelming.

Instagram video ad specs

Just like in other facets of advertising, the key to being effective lies in tailoring, because ad sizes matter. When it comes to video ads on Instagram, understanding the specifications will help you create impactful content. Let’s break down Instagram's ad specs for video:

Instagram Newsfeed video ads

When you're scrolling through your Instagram feed, you might see a newsfeed video ad. They look like any other video post except there's a little 'Sponsored' tag and they’re generally accompanied by a call to action button.

Instagram video ad specs

  • Minimum width: 500 pixels.
  • Maximum file size: 250 MB
  • Recommended video sizes: At least 1080 x 1080 pixels. 
  • Recommended aspect ratio: 4:5 is recommended although ratios from 1.91:1 to 4:5 are supported.
  • Aspect ratio tolerance: 1%
  • Recommended video ad format: MP4, MOV, or GIF.
  • Video length: 1 second to 60 minutes.
  • Captions: Adding captions to IG video ads ensures accessibility for those who are audibly impaired or prefer to watch without sound.
  • Sound: Highly recommended. 
  • Letterboxing and pillar boxing are not allowed.
  • Videos should not contain edit lists or special boxes in file containers.

Text limit

  • Primary text: Up to 125 characters will appear on the ad's preview. The viewer will be able to see the rest when clicking "more."
  • Maximum number of hashtags: 30

Instagram Stories video ads

Instagram Stories ads are those vertical ads that pop up in between organic Instagram Stories. Think of them as the commercial breaks amid your friends and family's Stories. That's why it's crucial to make them engaging—you're competing with the content shared by their loved ones.

Instagram video ad specs

  • Ratio: 9:16 
  • File type: MP4, MOV or GIF 
  • Maximum file size: 4 GB
  • Minimum width: 500 pixels
  • Resolution: At least 1080 x 1080 pixels 
  • Video settings: H.264 compression, square pixels, fixed frame rate, progressive scan and stereo AAC audio compression at over 128 kbps
  • Video captions and sound: Optional, but recommended
  • Video duration: 1 second to 60 minutes
  • Aspect ratio tolerance: 1%
  • Videos should not contain edit lists or special boxes in file containers.


Primary text: 125 characters 

TIP: Reserve approximately 14% of the top (equivalent to 250 pixels) and 20% of the bottom (approximately 340 pixels) of the video area clear from any text, logos, or other graphical elements. This ensures your content doesn’t get obstructed by the Instagram interface elements, such as the username or action buttons. 

Instagram Reels video ads

Instagram Reels ads are dynamic, full-screen, vertical video ads that seamlessly slot in between individual Reels. Embracing a TikTok-style format, these ads are typically high-tempo and upbeat, captivating viewers with their energetic nature. 

These ads can loop and run for up to 30 seconds. Viewers can actively engage with them by commenting, liking, viewing, saving, and sharing, making them a powerful tool for brands to engage with their target audiences.

Instagram video ad specs

  • Minimum resolution: 500×888 pixels
  • Recommended ratio: 9:16
  • Maximum file size: 4GB
  • Instagram video ad length: Up to 60 seconds
  • Recommended video formats: MP4, MOV
  • Video captions and sound: Recommended
  • Ads should not contain licensed music, media that contains a face or camera effect, media with a GIF, or media with product tags.


  • Primary text: 72 characters

Instagram Explore video ads

Instagram Explore video ads are seen within the Instagram Explore feature. When users click on an Explore video (or photo), it expands to full-screen, providing advertisers with a prime opportunity to spotlight their products, services, or brand. 

Strategically positioned between organic content, these ads leverage movement, sound, and bold visuals to instantly captivate viewers' attention. Take this ad, for example. You’re instantly drawn to the circular movement in the ad.

Instagram video ad specs

  • Maximum file size: 4GB
  • Recommended ratio: 4:5
  • Minimum resolution: 1080×1080 pixels
  • Minimum width: 500 pixels
  • Video length: 1 second to 60 minutes
  • Recommended video formats: MP4, MOV, GIF
  • Captions and sound: Recommended
  • Video settings: H.264 compression, square pixels, a fixed frame rate, progressive scan, and stereo AAC audio compression at a bit rate of 128kbps or higher.


  • Primary text: 125 characters

Instagram Shopping video ads

Instagram Shopping ads sell products directly within your feed. They prompt users to make instant purchases if they're interested, thus eliminating the risk of them forgetting to buy the product later on. 

To run these ads, you’ll need to ensure that your Instagram Shopping catalog has been set up.

Instagram video ad specs

  • Ratio: 4:5
  • Maximum file size: 4GB
  • File type: MP4, MOV, or GIF
  • Resolution: 1080 x 1080 pixels
  • Maximum video duration: 60 minutes
  • Minimum width: 500 pixels
  • Captions and sounds: Optional, but highly recommended, as they help with engagement.

Best practices for Instagram video ads

1. Design your video ad for mobile

When creating video ads for Instagram, think mobile first. Mobile users experience an 83% viewability rate which is significantly higher than the 53% rate observed among desktop users.

Design your video in a vertical format (1080 x 1920 pixels) to fill the users’ feeds. Vertical videos take up more screen real estate and capture attention better.

2. Mention your brand in the first 3 seconds

Don’t bury the lead! Grab your audience’s attention by mentioning your brand or product right at the beginning of the video. This reinforces your brand identity from the start. 

Additionally, viewers have short attention spans, so deliver the most essential information within the first few seconds. This ensures that even if someone drops off or continues scrolling after a brief moment, they've already received your message.

3. Leverage UGC videos in your ads

Don’t be afraid to use UGC video in your ads. They’re a potent tool that infuses authenticity and credibility into your brand. By featuring real customers using your product or service, you not only captivate your audience but also foster trust in your brand.

4. Make your ad feel organic

When shooting your video ad, think about how you'd share info about the product with your friends. Nobody likes watching ads, right? But everyone loves checking out what their friends are up to.

So, keep your ads real and relatable. Shoot in natural light, tap into genuine moments, and keep things down to earth. 

Once you master this strategy, your ads will blend right in with the rest of your audience’s feed, and they won't even realize they're watching an ad (at least at first).

5. Add captions to Instagram videos

Consider adding captions to your Instagram videos. Here's why: Many people browse social media while at work, running errands, or commuting, often with their sound muted. 

To ensure your message reaches everyone, including this silent audience, captions are essential. They provide context and understanding, ensuring that your message is clear even without sound. 

6. Try different Instagram ad placements

Whether it's Instagram Stories and Reels, or the Explore feed, each placement captures audiences differently across various parts of Instagram.

A recent study shows that smaller brands with fewer than 10k followers saw the most substantial boost, with a 35% increase in Story reach rate. This insight is particularly valuable for small business owners and content creators. If you fall into this category, consider prioritizing Story video ads to capitalize on this trend.

By testing different options, you can discover what resonates best with your campaign and audience, ultimately maximizing the effectiveness of your marketing.

7. Don’t neglect your thumbnail design

The opening frame of your video ad is more than just a beginning—it's also the thumbnail, making it a vital element in drawing attention to your ad.

This is especially crucial if you opt for the Instagram Explore feed placement for your video ad. Your thumbnails need to spark curiosity and encourage users to click and explore your ad further.

If your video features people, opt for mid-emotion shots as thumbnails. These moments capture emotions at their peak—neither too subtle nor too intense. They naturally evoke curiosity, intrigue, or empathy, drawing viewers in.

For product-focused video ads, leverage bold visuals, contrasting colors, or intriguing text overlays to create compelling thumbnails that entice users to engage.

The top Instagram video ads examples

In no particular order, let’s explore some of the most creative Instagram video ad examples around at the moment—perhaps you can use them as a template for your own ads 😏

1. Chicken Licken

Why we love it:

The ad cleverly mimics the Tinder interface, tapping into its ongoing popularity. This strategy instantly makes the ad relevant and relatable to viewers, capitalizing on a cultural phenomenon to drive engagement. 

Furthermore, the juxtaposition of dating and burgers is unexpected and attention-grabbing. It's this element of surprise that stops viewers mid-scroll, leading to memorable advertising.

2. Nivea

Why we love it:

This approach serves as a powerful reminder that effective connection with an audience doesn't always require overt selling tactics. In the case of this ad, Nivea beautifully demonstrates this concept by appealing to viewers' senses and emotions rather than relying on traditional sales copy or spoken words. 

By allowing the product to speak for itself, the ad sells a feeling—an experience that resonates deeply with viewers on a subconscious level. 

3. Arm & Hammer

Why we love it:

The word "mundane" used to carry negative connotations, but thanks to TikTok, it's taken on a whole new meaning. The mundane trend continues to captivate millions of social media users by showcasing everyday activities, from getting ready for work to cleaning the house. 

Arm & Hammer's ad cleverly taps into this trend, as well as the equally popular ASMR and UGC trends, to promote their laundry sheets. By mimicking the organic content that people are already engaging with, they've found a smart way to engage their audience.

4. Sanlam

Why we love it:

This ad is by Sanlam, a South African insurance company. On 21 February 2024, the National Treasury presented South Africa's 2024 Budget Speech, one of the most anticipated events in the country. 

Sanlam's ad is a clever response to this event and aims to appeal particularly to the youth, encouraging them to stay on top of their finances and budgeting. This ad works because it taps into important current events but finds a way to make them relevant to everyone. Any brand or service can find a way to capitalize on current events.

5. Kentucky Fried Chicken

Why we love it:

The last ad is by KFC and is part of their campaign to introduce their latest offering, the "Chizza," a KFC chicken base with a traditional pizza toppings twist. The ad simply showcases deliciously close-up slices of the Chizza with an overlay of comments from people who have previously inquired about this fascinating new edition in their teaser post. 

We love it because it's another example of how brands can involve their customers in their campaigns. When other users see fellow users' comments popping up in the ad, it motivates them to engage as well since the brand is actively "listening" to its customers. 

People value reciprocity from brands and are more likely to engage with brands that engage back. 

Want to create amazing Instagram video ads?

If you're intrigued by the Instagram video ad references but feel intimidated about emulating them, you'll find Madgicx's Creative Workflow invaluable.

This cost-effective production solution is tailored to help advertisers and business owners consistently create high-converting Meta ads while keeping ad costs in check.

Madgicx Ad Library dashboard

You begin by exploring and saving your favorite Meta ads references in the Madgicx Ad Library. Then, you submit a quick brief along with your ad inspiration via Sparkle. A talented designer will be assigned to you, ensuring your ads are ready in just 48 hours.

Upon your approval, the ads are automatically uploaded to Meta Ads Manager, allowing you to launch them from there or directly via Madgicx. 

Once your ads are live, it's essential to assess the effectiveness of your creative strategy, and this is where Madgicx's Creative Insights steps in. Utilizing AI, the tool draws valuable data and recommendations to help you optimize your campaigns. Within the tool is also a creative matrix that evaluates each ad based on spending, revenue, CTR, and other key metrics. 

This snapshot view allows you to quickly identify the most successful ads and scale them instantly. Why wait to make better Instagram ads? Try all of this for FREE ($0 trial).

Think Your Ad Strategy Still Works in 2023?
Get the most comprehensive guide to building the exact workflow we use to drive kickass ROAS for our customers.
<Break> the scroll with irresistible Instagram video ads!

Ready to bid farewell to forgettable ads? Shake things up with Madgicx’s Creative Workflow. Save your favorite ad examples from the Madgicx Ad Library, submit a quick brief, and our designers will turn your vision into ads that will captivate and convert!

Facebook Ads
Mar 11, 2024
Mar 11, 2024
Annette Nyembe

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

Start your 7-day free trial today

Get Started
Get Started
Try 100% free for 7 days. Cancel Anytime
Free training + live chat support
No results? Get a free trial extension