Do you run video ads on Instagram? Did you know that Instagram made a change that impacts placements?
In this article, you'll learn how to alter your advertising strategy and why embracing Instagram Reels ads might make sense.
What Changed With Instagram In-Stream Ads and Why It Matters
In February 2022, Instagram announced that the platform would no longer support in-stream ads. Within a few weeks, Ads Manager removed Instagram in-stream ads from its list of placement options and began alerting advertisers about the change. Below, you can see how the March 2022 version of Ads Manager placements (left) compares to the April 2022 version (right).
For some advertisers, this change won’t be a welcome one.
Unlike other video spots on Instagram, in-stream ads didn’t appear in the feed or on the Explore tab. Instead, they ran before long-form Instagram TV (IGTV) content, similar to a pre-roll ad format. This placement gave advertisers a unique opportunity to reach people as they viewed content by popular creators. And for creators who produced IGTV content, in-stream ads offered a lucrative opportunity to monetize their videos.
Of course, if you’ve been following Instagram’s updates over the past year, this removal of IGTV and in-stream ads won’t surprise you. Instagram began retiring IGTV in October 2021. Six months later, Instagram finally removed the IGTV app from the App Store and Google Play.
Since October 2021, the long-form videos that once appeared on IGTV have displayed in the Instagram feed. As an advertiser, you can create videos up to 60 seconds long for placement in the Instagram feed. But given the direction Instagram has taken, feed ads may not be the best use of your ad spend.
How to Adjust Your Instagram Advertising Strategy
In its announcements about the removal of in-stream spots, Instagram has encouraged advertisers to use Instagram Reels placements instead. Again, if you’ve been paying attention to the platform’s updates, this recommendation won’t be a shock.
In December 2021, Head of Instagram Adam Mosseri announced that in 2022, Instagram would consolidate the platform around Reels and short-form video. Following this update, Instagram has made several pushes to increase Reels adoption, including:
- Adding a dedicated Reels tab in Instagram profiles
- Displaying reels in the Instagram feed
- Rolling out new Reels tools and features
Since the Reels feed still includes far lower ad saturation than the Instagram feed or Stories, now is the ideal time to master the Instagram Reels placement. In addition to having less competition for the placement, Instagram Reels ads come with a few interesting perks:
- You can run Reels ads on Facebook too, giving you access to one of Meta’s newest and least-used ad placements.
- Reels ads can often double as Stories ads, allowing you to run an eye-catching video ad across multiple placements and platforms.
Ads Manager currently offers one Instagram Reels placement. But Instagram has indicated that the platform plans to roll out more options later this year. Its announcement teases in-reel ads, which may look similar to the Facebook Reel sticker ad placement pictured below.
With a Reels sticker placement, you can display an ad in an organic reel. Somewhat similar to in-stream ads, this option allows you to tap into creators’ videos and reach audiences as they engage with organic content.
How to Create a Campaign With an Instagram Reels Ad
You can create an Instagram Reels ad with one of two workflows, depending on the other placements you plan to use. Let’s walk through the options.
Create an Ad for Reels Placements Only
When you want to focus on Reels, it’s helpful to create an ad that only runs in these placements. Start by creating a new campaign with the objective of your choice. At the ad set level, choose optimization and delivery settings and build a target audience.
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Choose Manual Placements
Then uncheck the default Automatic Placements option and select Manual Placements instead. Uncheck all placement options except Instagram Reels. You can consider using the Facebook Reels placement as well, since both have identical requirements.
Upload a Video File
At the ad level, find the Ad Creative section and click the Add Media button. Select Add Video and upload your video. Note that Reels ads must be 60 seconds or less and should have a vertical 9:16 ratio. Although your Reels ad should already include sound, you can add captions in Ads Manager.
Edit the Creative
To add captions or other elements, click the Edit Media button and select Edit Video.
Here’s what you can edit:
- Crop: Change the video ratio to the recommended 9:16 or use Facebook’s scene detection technology to adjust it automatically.
- Trim: Cut extraneous parts of your video so you can deliver the best ad for your audience. Ads Manager recommends publishing videos that are 15 seconds or less.
- Thumbnail: Meta automatically generates thumbnails based on what’s most likely to appeal to your audience. But you can also manually set a thumbnail of your choice.
- Captions: Captions are essential for getting your message across. You can prompt Ads Manager to generate them automatically or upload your own file.
- Text Overlay: In addition to captions, you can add overlays to provide extra information. You can set them to display at specific times, and you can choose colors and fonts that fit your ad.
- Logo Overlay: You also have the option to add a logo overlay at a specific time during your video ad. Uploading a logo can be great for boosting brand recognition, especially at the end.
Write Ad Copy
When you’ve finished editing your Reels ad, return to the ad level and write the copy. Note that the Headline field doesn’t appear in Reels placements but the Primary Text field does.
It’s a good idea to keep your ad copy concise, as only the first 75 characters display in Instagram Reels ads. In Facebook Reels ads, only about 40 characters display before the platform truncates the text.
Then choose a call-to-action (CTA) button that fits your campaign objective. Note that the CTA button takes up a fair amount of real estate at the bottom of the ad, so it’s important to make sure it doesn’t cover any visual elements in your video.
Finally, add your website and UTM parameters for campaign tracking. Then review and publish the ad and start monitoring the analytics.
Edit the Reels Placement in a Multi-Placement Ad
When you want to deliver your ad to a bigger audience in a wider range of locations, you can create an ad set that runs in multiple placements. Start by creating a new campaign or adding a new ad set to the campaign you already started.
Choose Automatic Placements
Ad the ad set level, select optimization events and pick a target audience. You can use Automatic Placements to give the algorithm the maximum number of options for delivering your ad. Alternatively, you can choose Manual Placements and select Reels and other spots.
Add a Creative
At the ad level, upload a single image or video to use with most placements. It’s okay to use 1:1 or 4:5 creatives here since you can add videos specific to Reels placements later.
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Edit the Instagram Reels Placement
To edit the creative for Instagram Reels, find this placement in the list and click the pencil icon. In the editing interface, click the Change button and select or upload a video.
In addition to using all of the editing options detailed above, you can leverage a couple more tools. You can change the primary text so it’s a better fit for Reels and you can also update the linked landing page so it works better for mobile users.
If you also plan to advertise in Facebook Reels, note that you’ll need to edit that placement separately. Both Reels placements include identical editing tools.
Write Ad Copy and Select a CTA
Similar to the workflow above, the next step is writing ad copy. Although you may want to add copy in the Headline and Description fields for other placements, note that they won’t appear in Reels.
The CTA button, however, will appear in Reels. Take care to choose a button that aligns with your campaign goal, as selecting No Button makes it impossible for Reels viewers to convert and results in an Ads Manager error.
Turn a Photo Into a Video for a Reels Ad
Ideally, when you want to advertise in Instagram Reels, you’ll have a video that’s optimized for the placement. But if you’re just getting started with Reels or if you want to test out the placement, Ads Manager offers a shortcut.
Click to edit the Instagram Reels placement and click the Turn Into Video button in the upper-left corner.
Choose one of the vertical templates, which are designed to create simple animated slideshows from still images. Upload at least two images to create the slideshow.
Then use the editing tools to crop images to fit with Reels, add text overlays, or insert logos. When you’ve finished editing, click the Create Video button to complete the process.
5 Ideas for Instagram Reels Ad Spots
A great Instagram Reels ad depends on your campaign objective, target audience, and offer. Here are some ideas for creating reels that appeal to your audience and help you reach your goals.
If you’re new to creating reels, the slideshow templates in Ads Manager offer an easy way to get started. But they aren’t the only resource available. Many third-party apps have hundreds of templates you can choose from to build your ad.
For example, InVideo has templates that you can customize with your own logos, text, and videos. Most templates include royalty-free audio so you can add the element of sound to your Reels ad. By adding your own voiceovers and adding or deleting scenes, you can make these Reels ad templates your own.
Use Your Reels Insights
If you’ve already published some organic reels to your Instagram account, you can use the built-in analytics to guide ad creation. In the Instagram app, go to your profile and tap the Insights button. Then scroll down to view Reels insights.
Instagram automatically displays your top reels so you can easily see which have reached the most people. Then you can view each reel individually to dig into metrics like plays, likes, comments, saves, and shares. Use your successful organic content to inform the approach, style, and pacing of your Reels ads.
Show What Your Product or Service Does
Do you want to introduce your brand to a new audience and get people interested in your product or service? Reels ads are ideal for showing a snapshot of what your product or service can do. Since you can combine multiple clips into a compelling ad, reels are great for giving people a complete overview in just a few seconds.
For example, the @savvyworkshq Instagram ad below uses a series of clips to introduce customers to the platform’s video generator. By showing how the service works and sharing some sample results, the Reels ad effectively captures the attention of eCommerce brand owners.
Make a Clear Comparison
As your target audience gets closer to making a purchase, they’re likely to do more in-depth research. In addition to reading up on your brand’s products and services, they may do a little comparison-shopping. By comparing your offer to the competition, you can help potential customers get the information they need.
In the Instagram ad below, @sundaysfordogs compares the company’s air-dried dog food to the competition’s frozen options. The reel’s vertical layout has ample space to feature the brand and the competition side by side so customers can easily identify the advertiser’s product as superior.
Create a Compelling Value Proposition
Once you’ve introduced your business and showcased your products and services, it’s time to get potential customers to act. By creating an Instagram Reels ad for people at the bottom of the funnel, you can prompt them to convert and take advantage of your offer.
For example, the @shopifyplus Instagram ad below uses a simple animated graphic and repeats a compelling CTA to drive action. The ad urges prospects to “Automate tasks to boost your average order value by 20%,” which is likely to be an irresistible CTA for many small business owners.
Repurpose Lifestyle Content
Product photos and system walkthroughs can be incredibly helpful for showing customers how your offer works. But your target audience may tend to scroll right past branded content, especially in the Reels feed.
To catch your ideal customer’s eye, consider including lifestyle content in your Instagram Reels ads. With lifestyle content, you can create a more authentic connection with your target audience, which can boost trust and credibility.
As Instagram continues to phase out IGTV and consolidate the platform around short-form video, it’s important to master the art of Reels ads. With these tips and ideas, you can create eye-catching ads for Instagram Reels and leverage one of Meta’s newest placements successfully.
Get More Advice on Instagram Ads
- Create Instagram ads that generate more leads and sales.
- Test your Instagram ads campaigns and scale your results.
- Bring new life to your Instagram ads.
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