Complete Guide to Instagram Story Ads

Megan O'Neill


Over 500 million people are looking at Instagram Stories every single day. And paired with the targeting capabilities in Facebook Ads Manager, there’s a huge opportunity to reach new customers with Instagram Story ads.


In this guide, we’ll show you how to get started with Instagram Story ads. Read straight through, or click on the links below to jump to a specific section of the guide.

Before you get started with Instagram Story ads

Ready to dive into running ads on Instagram Stories? Before you get started, it’s important to keep in mind that your ads will likely result in more views of your Business Instagram profile.

Even if your main call to action doesn’t drive people to your profile, viewers are likely to tap through to learn more about your business. So it’s important to make sure that your feed is filled with an array of content that shows what you’re about and what your personality is.

For feed inspiration, check out our blog post on 11 ideas for boosting engagement with Instagram video.

How to create Instagram Story ads

Before you can run an ad, you’ll need content for it. If you’re just getting started with Instagram Stories, there are a couple important things to keep in mind:

  1. Instagram Stories are vertical (9:16). The ideal dimensions of your ad should be 1080 x 1920 pixels.
  2. Instagram Story cards can be up to 15 seconds each. Instagram Stories are made up of cards, and each card can display up to 15 seconds of video. If you use photos, each will display for 5 seconds.
  3. Instagram Story Ads can be up to 120 seconds . Instagram Story ads can be up to 120 seconds. These ads will auto play the first 15 seconds and rely on the viewer to tap "keep watching" to view then entire video ad.

Once you’re aware of those constraints, it’s time to make your content! Video is the most effective way to capture attention on mobile. So that’s what we’ll be showing you how to do!

If you’re an iOS user, we’ve got an app built just for creating Stories. The Animoto: Social Video Editor app makes it easy to create professional videos for Instagram Stories, designed to stand out. Sally from the Animoto team will show you how it’s done in the video below.

If you don’t have an iOS device, no problem. You can check out our post on how to make vertical videos using the square format in our web app.

Best practices for Instagram Story ads

Now that you know how to create a video for your Instagram Story ad, we wanted to share some best practices. These best practices are recommended by Facebook.

  • Use speed to your advantage. Stories move quickly, and if you don’t capture attention right away, viewers will tap to the next Story. Facebook says, "Try and land your message and showcase your brand quickly."
  • Delight with sound. In the feed, many people watch in silence. But the majority of Stories viewers are watching with the sound on. Use voice-over or music to enhance your video’s message.
  • Put your brand up front. Showcase logos or packaging right at the beginning of your Story for brand recognition. For multi-card stories, end with your brand too for the best results.
  • Keep your goal in mind. For conversion, focus on your product. For more brand-based goals, include people in your Stories.
  • Split up your Story. Facebook recommends splitting your Story into scenes. 3-card stories are ideal.

How to run Instagram Story ads

Once your content is created, it’s time to actually set up your ad! That’s what we’ll be diving into in this section, step by step. Before you get started, you’ll need to be set up with an Instagram Business account, plus a Facebook Ads Manager account.

There are a couple different ways to run Instagram Story ads. You can build out your ad campaign in Facebook Ads manager or you can get your ad set up on your phone in the Instagram app. We’ll show you how to do both.

How to promote a Story in the Instagram app

We’ll start by showing you how to promote an Instagram Story from the app itself. The process is simple and straightforward when you share a Story on an Instagram Business account.

First you’ll need to share your Story organically if you use this method. Once your Story has been shared, view it and tap the three dots in the lower right corner to promote it.


Next, take the following steps to set up your Story promotion:

  • Step 1: Decide where to send people. You can choose to send people to your profile, your website, or your direct messages.
  • Step 2: Select your target audience. Choose an audience based on location, interest, age, and/or gender.
  • Step 3: Set up budget and duration. How much do you want to spend each day and how long would you like your ad to run?
  • Step 4: Create your promotion! Once you’ve set up your ad, you’re ready to let it run.


How to set up your IG Stories ad in Facebook Ads Manager

You may have noticed that if you promote an existing Instagram Story, you can only promote a single card, or section of a Story, at a time. If you want to create a multi-card post, you’ll need to do so through Facebook Ads Manager.

We’ve got an entire blog post dedicated how to use Facebook Ads Manager to run targeted ads. Check it out for the full step-by-step guide. In this section, we’ll dive into specific choices you’ll need to make to run an ad for Stories, rather than the feed.

1. Choose “Stories” under Placements

When you get to the Placements stage of setting up your campaign, make sure you’ve got Instagram Stories checked off and nothing else.


2. Choose a Format

Next, you’ll choose your ad format. You can select either Carousel or Single Image or Video, depending on how many cards your ad will be. Facebook recommends sharing a 3-card Story ad, which would require selecting Carousel.


The video in a Single Video ad will display for up to 15 seconds. A Single Image will display for 5 seconds.

In a Carousel ad, you can upload multiple videos but each can only be up to 15 seconds long. Up to 3 cards will display natively in Stories. If you upload more than 3 cards, viewers will need to tap to keep watching.

3. Upload your Ad Creative

When it comes to uploading your ad creative, you’ll just need to be sure that each video is no longer than 15 seconds. For Single Video ads, only the first 15 seconds of longer videos will display before the viewer must tap "Keep Watching" to view the rest of the 120 second video ad. And Carousel ads will only accept videos that are up to 15 seconds.

You’ll also include additional information, based on the goal you selected for your ad. For instance, if your goal was to drive traffic, you’ll be asked to enter a website URL.


And that’s all there is to it! Once you’re done, click Confirm and wait for your ad to be approved and start running. Head back to Facebook Ads Manager to view the results if that’s where you set up your ad. If you promoted your Story through the Instagram app, you’ll be able to see the results in your app Insights.

Have you used Instagram Story ads to promote your business? How did it go? Tell us about it in the comments below!