Scroll, swipe, tap: Instagram ads you can’t miss

There are currently more than 1 billion monthly active users on Instagram, which is more than twice the number of monthly active users on Twitter. The photo-sharing app is, in fact, the second most engaged network after Facebook.

Besides a huge audience, Instagram also boasts great visual appeal and ease of use, making it the perfect ad platform for businesses.

It has the stats to prove its chops too: 80 per cent of its accounts follow at least one business on the app, and 60 per cent of users learn about a product and service through the platform.

To target, engage and pitch more effectively to your customers, bear these five pointers in mind. 

1. Your image needs to *pop*

Aesthetic is everything on Instagram. Effective Instagram ads use a single image to entice viewers, and a standout visual will grab more eyeballs. Research from the Social Science Research Network shows that 65 per cent of people are visual learners, and the brain processes visual data faster than text.

Instagram popularised the “flat lay” image, that is, arranging and styling the items on a flat surface and shooting them directly from above. It is an easy and effective way to draw attention and showcase your products in a visually pleasing way.


This ad by Eu Yan Sang is a good example. Instead of a predictable box of its Fever Relief Granule, the traditional Chinese medicine retailer promotes the product by featuring a neat and eye-catching array of its ingredients.


Think of how to style your product to create an arresting flat lay shot. Other methods, such as a close crop or an unusual angle, could deliver impactful visuals too.

2. Choose the ad format that works for you

The single image is the most popular and familiar layout on Instagram. But there are other ad formats that might be a better fit for your campaign, so do think it through.

Other options include Instagram stories, which are quickly consumed and vanish after 24 hours, the carousel, which comprises multiple images that users can swipe through, or a short video, which is fast gaining popularity.


To promote a 20% storewide discount during a four-day special, personal care store Watsons went for a clean and effective carousel ad. It first draws traffic with a striking red image, followed by a series of three to five shots which users can swipe through to view the featured products on offer.

Instagram story ads, on the other hand, allow you to insert a short 15 seconds advertisement between users’ stories. It is a chance for advertisers to display full-screen advertisements inside the app. – a great opportunity to hold the user’s entire focus, even if just for a moment.


Fashion house Burberry takes advantage of the full-screen, vertical format of the story ads, featuring close-ups of models and celebrities clad in their clothes. It catches the viewer’s attention immediately with the profile to create a strong impression quickly. Photos and videos in story ads also tend to be of high-production quality. 

The call to action to learn more is done with the simple act of swiping up. It’s a new and exciting way for advertisers to interact with their customers on the platform.

3. Go easy on the hard sell

For the best reception, your ads need to blend into feeds organically, so avoid in-your-face tactics.

Instagram users tend to crave authenticity and value genuine experiences. So, as far as possible, craft your message around an experience rather than a product for a more intimate connection.


This image by Levi’s, for instance, looks more like a travel photo than an ad hawking denim wear. Even the caption reads like a regular post from a friend. With one artful shot, Levi’s has managed to connect with its target group while promoting its #MakeOurMark campaign, which urges the millennials to express their individuality.

4. Keep it fresh with a new angle

On Instagram – much more so than, say, Facebook – it’s all about attractive, curated, edited and heavily filtered content.


When we look at typical real estate ads, they tend to be similar and dry, with dated design, dull copy and awkward headshots. But in this example, real estate firm CBRE manages to rise above the (usually staid real estate) crowd with a breathtaking time-lapse video of a beautiful sunset over skyscrapers.

Do not make the mistake of following one ad template.


No matter what you are selling, you can put a fresh spin on your message and widen your reach.

5. Ads should be consistent with your feed

Instagram’s feed is structured in a three-column grid that allows followers to easily look back on past posts. This also means that if you are turning a post into an ad, it is important that the ads are consistent with the posts in your feed. This is because the most appealing brands have some sort of “Instagram theme” going on.

These themes keep your brand cohesive. It turns individual pictures into a bigger story. Building an Instagram theme creates visual consistency too, and keeps your followers coming back for more.


For example, Nike’s Instagram feed focuses on video portraits of famous athletes. This consistency is followed through for a period of time.

It would be jarring if Nike inserts an ad post about its product in its feed suddenly. That breaks the consistency, and diverts the attention and dilutes the appeal too.

So choose what is the best theme for your ad? Which categories best represent your brand? Is it people, nature, food, cityscape, or product? And once you have decided on a theme, stick to it.

Need more help to launch an effective ad on Instagram? Get on Adtiq, which offers you a quick, simple and affordable way to promote your business through digital advertising on Google, Facebook and Instagram. The best part is Adtiq allows you to monitor your campaigns performance across three platforms within a single dashboard.