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Swipe Up, Not Left: Using Instagram Stories Ads for Holiday Engagement

Patrick Holmes

Senior Digital Marketing Manager @ AdRoll

Approximately half of Instagram’s 1 billion users view Instagram Stories every day. Such a large and dedicated viewership makes Instagram Stories an excellent way to drive engagement for your business. Those 500 million users are not just watching friends’ stories, one-third of the most-viewed stories come from businesses. Brands with more than 10,000 followers can use the “Swipe Up” function to send viewers directly to their websites. No matter the size of your brand or the number of followers you have, you can use Instagram Stories Ads to drive visitors and significant holiday engagement.

The path to customer loyalty begins with eye-catching ad content. A creative, engaging, and relevant Stories Ad will grab the attention of your ideal customers on Instagram Stories, even if they’re not following you. Instagram Stories play automatically once a viewer clicks on one until they’re all caught up with Stories or tap out of them.

The Lowdown on Instagram Stories Ads

Instagram Stories Ads involve creating a short video advertisement that plays in between user-created stories. They look just like regular Instagram Stories — full-screen and vertical — but show a small “Sponsored” notation at the top. Here’s the part that lets you stand out: even if you don’t have 10,000 followers to enable the “Swipe Up” feature in organic Instagram Stories, by purchasing Instagram Stories Ads, you can direct your viewers to Swipe Up — and bring them to a landing page of your choosing.

Marketers have begun to take notice. According to a recent report by Mondo, 66% of respondents planned on investing in Instagram Stories — the most than any other type of video ad. This type of social ad can be run using metrics such as reach, traffic, conversions, video views, or brand awareness. Instagram ads also include one call-to-action per card, but you can choose different destinations for each one.

One in three daily Instagram users become interested in the products they see in Instagram Stories, and 15-25% of viewers swipe on links in Instagram Stories Ads. If you’re running a holiday ad campaign, that completely trounces the average Instagram click-through rate of 0.94% and can put you in front of people who are already looking for things to buy.

Stories Ad Setup Basics

Once users swipe up on your Instagram Stories Ad, brands can choose from seven different objectives: brand awareness, reach, video views, conversions, app installs, lead generation, and traffic to drive their calls-to-action.

You will get the most out of your Instagram Stories Ads if you make sure to use the right size and formats. Stories Ads can be square (1:1 aspect ratio), landscape (1.91:1), and vertical (4:5). The ideal resolution is 1080 x 1920 pixels, and you’ll want to submit static images as .jpg or .png and videos as .mp4 or .mov files. Static images will show for five seconds by default, and video ads can be up to 15 seconds. You’ll want to use the most up-to-date specifications as you create your ads.

Getting to Swipe Up (Not Left)

Instagram Stories Ads let you target audiences based on website activity or customer lists. This offers a great opportunity for retargeting. If you already set up the Facebook Pixel on your site, then you are ready to create a retargeting audience. The set up for Instagram Stories Ads is just the same as any other Facebook ads campaign. These full-screen experiences are ideal for limited time promotions like a flash sale on a popular product or for attracting Black Friday or Cyber Monday impulse buyers.

If you want to get the most engagement from your Instagram Stories Ads, start by using a lookalike audience. They’re the people who are most like your existing customers and theoretically more likely to buy from you.

Next, make sure your Stories Ad is both eye- and ear-catching. Start off by putting your brand name or logo front and center; that way, even if they swipe out of your Stories Ad, you’ve still planted the seed for your brand in their mind. And since 60% of users view Stories with the sound on, hit them with something that will cut through the soundless cat pictures and drink-toasting boomerangs.

Facebook also has a few of its own recommendations to get the most from your Instagram Stories Ads. If you use multiple scenes (like Samsung’s ad highlighting its water-resistant Galaxy) in your ads, keep them short at about 2-3 seconds per scene. Product demos like Kayla Itsines’ BBG workout samples tend to work particularly well, too, if that’s something you’re able to do.

Glean Holiday Ad Inspiration

Ready to get started with Instagram Stories Ads? Grab some inspiration from brands that have showcased how they fit into the holidays, using some of the best practices that we mention above.

Michael Kors used Stories Ads to show off their designer watches with the very on-brand and timely message of “Never Late to the Party.” The company included fast-paced music and a clear call to action. Meanwhile, the subscription box brand Causebox went with a simple, eye-catching animated snow overlay to a photo ad.

Companies tend to see a lot of success with their Instagram Stories Ads, even during the holidays. Gathre, a direct-to-consumer (D2C) home goods company, created an Instagram Stories Ad campaign showing off their most popular products. The holiday campaign brought in 3x as many sales as the previous year, and a 91% return on ad spend (ROAS).

Instagram Stories Ads will drive great holiday engagement for your brand. To get your audience to swipe up, make sure you grab their attention with ads that are to-the-point yet creative and entertaining. You’ll need to create dazzling imagery and videos, and serve them up to viewers who are likely interested in your products. Get noticed in Instagram Stories Ads, and get ready for the boost to your bottom line.

Are you interested in learning how to launch your very own holiday marketing campaign? Check out some of our other pieces of holiday-related content.

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