Video vs. Carousel and Beyond: What We Learned from $2500 Worth of Instagram Tests

Megan O'Neill


Facebook recently shared some powerful stats around the rapid growth of Instagram. On the company’s Q1 2017 Earnings Call, COO Sheryl Sandberg shared that “As people and businesses shift to mobile, Instagram continues to grow quickly. There are more than 2 million active advertisers on Instagram, and we announced in November that more than 25 million businesses have profiles on Instagram—up from 15 million in July.”

And that’s not all. Sandberg reported, “About two-thirds of the visits to Instagram business profiles are from people who don’t follow them yet—and this is helping bring in new customers.”

It’s clear that businesses should be on Instagram. And these new stats inspired us to dive in and do some testing to find out what small business owners can do to get the most out of Instagram. We started with $2500 and ran a variety of tests to find out how we, and a handful of small business customers, could get the most out of our advertising dollar. Here are the results.

Test #1: Instagram Video vs. Carousel Ads

In a $1300 test, we worked with 3 small businesses from different industries to create carousel ads, as well as videos using the same photos as the carousel ads. You can view all the versions in the video below.

The photos appear in the same order in each ad, but in the carousel ad the viewer has to swipe through, while in the video ad they flip through on their own in a loop. Learn how we made the videos for this test.

In our tests, the videos consistently outperformed carousel ads in terms of clicks, reach, and cost per click (CPC).

Cost per click

CPC was more affordable. In each of our tests, we paid less per click on the video version of the ad. In fact, CPC was nearly 50 percent cheaper for video in all cases.


We also found the the video ad reached more people than the carousel ad did on our tests. We saw anywhere from 3X up to 18X greater reach for video.


Not only were clicks cheaper, but we saw more clicks on the video ads than we did on the carousel ads—21X more clicks all the way up to 60X more clicks.

Test #2: Instagram vs. Facebook

We also ran $1200 worth of tests with our own Animoto ads, pinning Facebook video ads against Instagram video ads. We were curious to see whether there’d be a visible difference in results on the different platforms.

What did we find? The same amount of money yielded further reach, more views, and more post reactions on Instagram:

  • 2X reach on Instagram
  • 2.3X more 10-second views on Instagram
  • 2.6X more 30-second views on Instagram
  • 10X more post reactions on Instagram

Looking to start advertising on Instagram? Check out our guide. Already using Instagram for advertising? We’d love to hear about your experience in the comments below.