Advertising on Stories 101: Instagram and Beyond

That guy raising his phone in selfie video mode to post his latest concert experience. That group of girls snapping quick but curated pics of their most recent Insta-worthy brunch. We’ve all seen people creating Instagram Stories. In fact, I’m willing to bet that you have been one of those people.

Stories are becoming an increasingly popular way to consume media across social platforms. In their January earnings call, Instagram revealed that 500 million users consume Stories every day. With so many new ad impressions up for grabs, advertisers are joining the masses of Stories content creators.

Let’s take a step back to examine these quickly-disappearing photos and videos, and what sets them apart from regular feed-post advertising.

When we think of classic Instagram and Facebook, in-feed ads like CauseBox’s ad above come to mind. These post-like ads appear as you scroll through your feed, discovering new content and posts from family members, friends, influencers, and different brands. You can take your time reading and engaging with these ads, and you have the ability to comment, share, like, or even save the post so you can reference it later.

But in 2016, Instagram created another way for people to consume content on their platform: Stories. These organic videos and images immerse us in a full-screen experience, providing 15-second snapshots of what someone is doing or enjoying at that moment. After 24 hours, the organic content disappears, never to be seen again (unless the poster chooses to highlight it on their profile). Though Stories originally only lived on Instagram, they now exist on Facebook and Messenger, as well.

If you’re an avid Instagram or Facebook user, you may have noticed ads like TravellerCollective’s ad above nestled in between the string of Stories posted by your closest besties and your favorite local coffee shop.

Since we are spending more and more time indulging in daily Stories updates from people and companies we care about, it’s becoming increasingly crucial for us as advertisers to have a presence on these placements. The videos below show some variations of Stories ads.

Like any social ad, you can optimize your creatives to capitalize on the unique aspects of Instagram, Facebook, and Messenger Stories placements. Consider the four tips below when designing Stories creatives.

  1. Think Mobile First: Because Stories are primarily consumed on mobile devices as a full-screen experience, ads should be optimized using vertical, 1080 x 1920 dimensions. Although 1200 x 1200 creatives can appear on Stories placements, using the vertical dimensions makes the viewer feel fully immersed in your ad. The example below shows a less engaging 1200 x 1200 experience on a mobile device.
  2. Keep Things Short and Sweet: Ads on Stories placements are meant to be consumed quickly. Keep your videos to 15 seconds or less. Also, consider editing your videos with quick cuts, or turning stills into a GIF-like animation to keep viewers engaged.
  3. Make Creative Easy on the Eyes: From an aesthetic perspective, Stories ads should be eye-catching and compelling. It is important to ensure that the product or service being offered is the visual focal point of the ad. Try to avoid including any important text or visually distracting elements in areas where your brand name or call-to-action will automatically appear. Notice how distracting the creative below is.
  4. Speak to the Consumer: Since Stories make social media users feel more connected to others, many advertisers find success in making ads that appear more organic and relatable. Try playing around with native features such as polls, stickers, hashtags, and Boomerang video.

Stories placements offer advertisers a new way to increase their ads’ reach and keep their brand top of mind for consumers. If you’re not advertising there, now is the time to start.

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