Instagram Advertising 101: Ad Types and Anatomy

By Jeff Cracolici

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Marketing Manager & Digital Expert

Facebook is finally opening up Instagram’s advertising platform to marketers everywhere. With over 77 million users in the United States, Instagram can be a great place to reach your prospects and customers. Getting the most out of these ads requires a basic understanding of the different ad types Instagram offers, along with the associated creative elements.

We will begin by explaining the different types of creative elements that all of the ads are built from, followed by the three ad types that can be utilized, as of this writing.

Anatomy Of An Instagram Ad

There are three basic elements of every Instagram ad:

Image / Video


Instagram is most notably known for being a photo-sharing platform; therefore, your ad’s image will undoubtedly be the most important element when it comes to Instagram advertising. While your audience is scrolling through their timelines, your image will catch the eyes of your audience and, if inviting enough, will encourage viewers to look more closely at the advertisement. The size specifications of the images can either follow Instagram’s infamous 1:1 aspect ratio, or that of their newly announced landscape or portrait options.


As for video ads, the standard still image can be replaced by a 15 or 30 second clip. Similarly to the image advertisement, make sure your video is intriguing enough to captivate your audience as they are scrolling through their timelines.

Call-to-Action Button

The CTA button appears directly below the image or video on the right-hand side to instruct individuals on how they can follow up with the offer described in your ad. There are a number of different phrases that you can choose from for the call-to-action button, including “Learn More” and “Shop Now.”

Post Text

The post text gives you an opportunity below the image or video to sum up your offer. A concise, attention-grabbing passage should be crafted to encourage people to take action.

Types Of Instagram Advertising

Image / Display Ads

The image/display ad type appears in the main news feed of Instagram. The ad consists of an image, call-to-action button (if desired) and the post text. These ads can be clicked on to drive audiences to a landing page on your website. Since these ads are designed to look exactly like every other post on Instagram, the early results have been spectacular.


Carousel Ads

Carousel Ads look and feel just like Image Ads, but they allow advertisers to upload up to fours images for one ad. Different images will be shown as users swipe their finger over the image to the right or left. Also like the aforementioned ad type, when clicked users are directed to a landing page on the advertiser’s website.


Video Ads

Like Image Ads, Video Ads also appear in the main newsfeed of Instagram. These consist of either a 15, 30, or 60 second video and a bit of post text. Unlike Image/Display ads, when a video ad is clicked it does not take users to a landing page. Instead, the sound of the video becomes audible. If you wish to include a landing page for a Video Ad, it is recommended that you use a shortened link in the post text of the ad.

Video Ads in both 1:1 and “portrait” aspect ratios


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Published on Sep. 17, 2015, Last Updated on Jul. 18, 2022