According to Facebook, Instagram Stories usage will exceed News Feed usage in 2019. Today, Stories boast over 500 million daily active users – which means that if your current Facebook strategy isn’t targeting this placement, you’re missing out on a ton of engaged scrollers.
Facebook purports that cost per impressions (CPMs) on Stories are still reasonably priced in comparison to other placements – but, that won’t last for long. Why? With more advertisers on Instagram Stories, more inventory is being bought, and, to an extent, inventory is finite – so less inventory available means that costs will increase.
Because more and more brands clamoring to tell their story, well, via Stories, the time to incorporate Instagram Stories into your marketing plan is now. So when it comes to tailoring your strategy to effectively implement dedicated Instagram Story targeting outside of a simple opt-in in via auto-placements – you’ll want to focus on two key areas: Ad Set Structure and Creative Execution.
Ad Set Structure
If you’re advertising on Instagram Stories by simply running auto-placements on ad sets – great! If it’s working for you – even better. Because leveraging auto-placements can hinder your ability to drive volume in a specific placement, we recommend building out separate ad sets targeting only Instagram Stories for this exercise. This will allow you to easily facilitate the testing of different Instagram Stories-specific concepts without interfering with your existing account structure. Once you discern winning creative combos in the IG Story-only ad set(s), you can add them to your regular ad sets via Placement Asset Customization. To achieve sufficient scale in your IG Stories test ad sets, you’re going to want to go broad.
So, how is this different from our normal strategy? When running audiences on auto-placements, we’d typically recommend an audience size at least the size of a standard lookalike audience, or 2.1 million people. Because you have all placements available in this targeting option, it’s very easy for Facebook to find “likely” converters within this subset of people to serve ads to. When you remove all of your other placement options, you remove a lot of potential inventory – and must make it up elsewhere. If you don’t, you’ll see CPMs skyrocket, and it will be difficult for Facebook’s optimization algorithm to acquire enough conversion signals to hone its targeting algorithm (and sustain delivery).
The solution: You must broaden the pool of people Facebook is able to target, which means that a standard cut of lookalikes is no longer large enough to be a viable targeting option for Instagram Stories only. We recommend targeting broad audiences to keep your pool as large as possible – and only adding demographic slicing where it aligns with the product being sold (i.e. men’s vs. women’s products). This will typically leave you with one or two ad sets with a broad age range, and now you can begin serving Instagram-specific ads.
Earlier, we discussed that Stories have unique viewing habits. Okay, but why is this important? Because when browsing Instagram Stories, viewers are naturally more engaged. They’re not scrolling past their aunt’s problematic news article or that-one-guy-from-High-School’s gender reveal video with their eyes glazed over – they’re immersed in relevant and real-time video content from people they actually want to follow.
Users are much more likely to notice and interact with a timely, engaging piece of content placed before them – and it’s your job as marketers to make that happen. To do this, you’ll want to take advantage of the unique elements Instagram Stories have to offer:
Sound On: A large majority of ads on Facebook are viewed on mute – but guess what? This is not the case with Stories. Instagram Stories are the only place within Facebook’s ecosystem where ads are viewed primarily with sound – so use it! Adding sound effects to coincide with animation, imploring viewers to “Swipe up!” or simply adding background music could be the difference in capturing someone’s attention.
Call Out the CTA: It’s a standard best practice to add a relevant CTA to Facebook ads. But calling out the call to action? That’s the move. Try adding additional animation to highlight the “Shop Now” button at the bottom of the screen – it’s not in the center of the phone, or “hot zone,” so it’s less likely to get noticed by a passive viewer. You can add elements such as “Swipe Up” text with arrows motioning upwards, arrows and/or circles around the CTA itself, or having the bottom of the screen bounce up and down, like a ghost-thumb is swiping up the screen for you.
Use Native Tools: The best way to compel someone into viewing your ad? Make it look like an organically posted story. To do this, employ Instagram’s own editing features, such as glowing lines, filters, animated GIFs and text blocks to add that extra layer of authenticity to your ads.
Take Advantage of More Text: Typical ad specs in Facebook limit text in ads to only 20% of the ad itself... but this is not the case with Instagram Stories. You can have text comprise as much of the ad as you want, so make it big and make it bold. Leveraging big blocks of text can make your ads more eye-catching – and really hammer home value props of products or promotional discounts.
Tell A Story: Get it? Instagram Stories offer a unique opportunity to sequence and visualize a story. Instead of using stop-motion animation in a video, scenes anchored with the same base image can be used to layer in different elements and call-out different features. Using the design elements described above, we can have a text bubble pop-up that highlights a product feature, another call-out of price and an arrow ‘point’ down at the CTA and tell the user what to do next.
These suggestions are not meant be used individually – combine them, layer them and above all, test different combinations to find your ideal creative strategy that drives the best results on this placement. Once you start finding winning creative combos, try pushing those ads into your normal ad sets targeting all placements. You might be surprised with how they do.
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