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How to make Instagram Story Ads

Instagram Story

Instagram Story Ads are an excellent place for brands to reach new audiences and experiment with ephemeral content.

With Stories, users can watch a full-screen vertical video and then simply swipe up to quickly learn about a product or brand.

Stories are now growing 15x faster than feed based sharing. And according to Instagram, of the 500 million accounts using Stories, 1/3 of the most viewed stories come from businesses.

Since the ads are also super short, planning to make one is a great opportunity to experiment with multiple versions. Marketers and agencies can run A/B tests of different versions of the same content to understand what performs best, plus get detailed data and analytics to plan future campaigns around.


There are a million different ways to produce an effective Instagram Story ad, but there are 2 basic things you should definitely keep in mind:



In an Instagram Story ad, your key message should be short and sweet.

A “sponsored” label appears in the top, right corner of your post to show that your post is an ad, and not part of a user’s normal feed, filled with the people they choose to follow. Which means that once viewers realize it’s an ad… they are more likely to tap or swipe away from your story.

If you want to create an Instagram Stories ad that converts, it’s important to have a short, clear message that is easy to read and obvious to understand.


Here are a few simple ways to do this:


  • double check that the first ½ second (yes, half second!) is visually appealing and will catch your viewers eye
  • make sure your logo appears within the first 3 seconds
  • ensure your message is clear whether the sound is on or off because only 60% of stories are viewed with the sound on
  • include a strong call to action that tells your user what to do next: swipe up to visit your website, learn more or shop now



When an Instagram Story ad feels overproduced or overly animated, a user’s immediate reaction will be to move on to the next post.

As Taylor Loren, the Head of Marketing at Later (an Instagram scheduling tool) explains:


“People are used to watching casual Instagram Stories content from their friends.

If they see a highly produced video pop up in their stories, it can come across like a commercial, and they will naturally swipe away.”

So for this channel especially, your aim should be to create informal, authentic videos.


Get your employees, brand ambassadors or influencers on board to shoot selfie-style, mobile videos and use that footage in your next InstaStory ad.

Or better yet, re-purpose the videos your influencers/ambassadors post on their own accounts and brand it up to make a fresh, new InstaStory Ad complete with a strong call to action.

This way, they’ll blend right into everything else on a users InstaStory feed so your audience pay attention and absorb your message.


The International Travel College of New Zealand used EditMate to create an ad that blends in well to the Instagram Story feed because it features real mobile video short by their students and staff. Their mention of “NCEA exams” at the very start immediately catches the attention of their target audience (students) and their use of genuine mobile video makes the ad authentic and informal.

For Instagram Stories, keeping them short and keeping them casual will ensure that your viewers absorb the information.

Keep that in mind when planning your creative content and you’ll be well on your way to sharing awesome and effective stories.

Utilize videos featuring your own employees, customers and brand ambassadors to create authentic Instagram Story Ads that blend right in to user’s normal feeds.



Here are the formats, resolutions, and dimensions you need to know when creating an Instagram Story Ad:


Recommended resolution is 1080 x 1920.
Minimum resolution is 600 x 1067.
Aspect ratio is 9:16.
Max file size is 4GB.
Recommended video formats are .MP4 and .MOV.
Video length max is 15 seconds.


And finally,  a smart way to make sure your Instagram Story stands out from all the other ads is to structure the ad as useful content — not a sales-y advertisement.

Share info your target audience is likely curious about in a how-to-guide or short list and try to deliver the full message without making the user have to click on anything.

This will immediately build affinity for your brand and start positioning your business as a helpful resource.

And from there, your viewers can always swipe up to shop now or learn more! 🙂

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