The Complete Guide to Instagram Video Ads – All You Need to Know

18 December, 2020  

Even though it started as a social media for images and video sharing, Instagram has become a highly optimized platform to share branded content and launch effective high-performing video ad campaigns.

Now, the platform combines Facebook’s precise targeting options and a unique, non-intrusive form of video advertising – which effectively helps businesses of all sizes and across all industries to promote their products or services, drive awareness, and attract new prospects.

The problem, though, is that Instagram’s a very competitive, content-saturated platform. So, to stand out and run successful campaigns, it’s crucial to understand how to use and implement Instagram video ads efficiently – which is precisely why we are here today!

In this article, we’ll go over the fundamentals of video ads on Instagram to help take your strategy to the next level. Including specs, best practices, ideal lengths, and even some great examples to get you inspired! Instagram video ads

The Basics of Instagram Video Ads

In a nutshell, Instagram video ads are in-feed promoted videos that have the look and feel of standard posts. They also have a bit of copy underneath and can include a Call-To-Action button below the piece to link to an external page, such as a website or a landing page.

The great thing about Instagram video ads is that they blend organically into users’ feeds and the “Explore” section of the app. Giving businesses a more natural way to reach out to their audiences, pique their curiosity, and engage them.

Now, it’s important to remember that Instagram users are exposed to a lot of content while scrolling on their feeds, and most will only stop if something really catches their attention. So, for your video ads to work, they should be very original, impactful, and provide immediate value. And that last one is key!

Rather than pushing your target audience to make a purchase, you should focus on creating branded ads that can offer them something relevant to their interests. Do that, and your campaigns will consistently impact your brand metrics, increase user engagement, and reach more people.

ebook: The definitive guide for video in social media

Instagram Video Ads Specs in 2021

Each social media platform operates as a unique environment, with very specific format rules and trends. So, it’s important to tailor your content according to those specifications, making sure it performs as best as possible.

Instagram is continually updating its platform and rolling out new video tools and features, so they change over time. That said, here’s a complete and updated list of Instagram video ad specs for 2021:

  • Caption: Up to 125 characters
  • Video resolution: 600 x 600 pixels (square), 600 x 315 pixels (landscape), or 600 x 750 pixels (vertical)
  • Aspect ratio: 1:1 (square), 1.91:1 (landscape), or 4:5 (vertical)
  • Duration: 1 second to 2 minutes
  • Max video size: 4GB for all formats
  • Frame rate: 30fps max for all formats
  • File type: MP4, .MOV or GIF
  • Maximum number of hashtags: 30

What’s the Ideal Instagram Video Ad Length?

Ok, to determine the perfect Instagram video ad length it’s key. But first, you need to understand how users behave on the platform and how they consume video ads.

People online are getting more and more used to looking at multiple screens at the same time. Even more so, they usually check social media networks while being with other people or doing more than one task.

It’s safe to assume, then, that viewers have limited time, patience, and energy to pay attention to – or engage with – your video’s message. So, yes – Brevity is key.

With that in mind, the company itself suggests keeping video adsbetween 6 and 15 seconds long.

It’s also worth considering a study conducted by Instagram’s “big brother“, Facebook, on users’ video ad viewing habits on their platform, Instagram, and other popular social media networks.

The company discovered that in-feed ads have a steep drop-off after the first few seconds, and then start losing viewers at a slower rate as engagement gets relatively steady by the middle of the video.

Meaning that if you manage to get users’ attention and offer something relevant right from the start, they’ll stay.

Marketing Ideas


So, while the details will hinge upon the type of content you want to advertise, and how immersive your video actually is, you should lean toward developing short, succinct pieces that quickly get to the point and convey your message.

A common practice is to try and front-load your video ads with enticing and striking brand images to capture users’ attention more effectively and encourage them to keep watching.

How to Make Instagram Ad Videos – Four Key Practices

As powerful as video ads can be, there are a couple of elements that you should take into account to get the most out of them. Let’s take a look at some of the best practices for running successful Instagram ad videos!

Optimize for silent viewing

The majority of mobile users – 92% to be precise – watch videos on social media without sound. This is why Instagram videos are muted by default and give viewers the option to turn the sound on or not.

So, in terms of video design, this means that you need to optimize your ads for silent viewing, which you can start doing with two simple strategies:

First, use relevant imagery and clear visual cues to clearly convey your message and make sure viewers can easily follow the story you’re trying to tell with your ad, sound or no sound..

Secondly, if your video ad has a narrator or includes dialogue, it’s vital to add closed captions or subtitles. That way, you’ll make your content more accessible and increase its organic engagement, as it’s proved that captions can boost video view time up to 12%.

Be helpful or solve a problem

Instagram is flooded with educational videos and short tutorials because we are naturally attracted to useful content – whether that is learning how to cook a delicious dessert or follow a make-up step by step tutorial.

With that in mind, you should focus on creating Instagram video ads that revolve around a problem or address a specific need your potential customers have and show how your product (or service) can easily solve it.

To achieve that successfully, it’s critical to analyze your audience and convey a story or message that deeply resonates with their lives and everyday experiences. Ask yourself: What are their needs? What interests do they have? How is my product going to make their lives easier?, and things of such nature.

By answering those questions, you’ll be able to create a relatable, more effective narrative that, in a way, is going to speak directly to your target audience — Helping you to create a deeper, more personal connection with them.

Focus on singular goals

Step zero of any campaign – video or not – is defining your goals. Simply put, having a clear understanding of what you want to achieve with your ads will help you leverage your efforts, measure results more effectively, and, most importantly, create better-targeted content.

For example, it’s not the same developing a piece to boost brand awareness as one that’s intended to promote an event you’re having next month. Both the core message and the type of content will vary in each case.

Luckily, Instagram uses Facebook’s Ads Manager to set up your campaigns – which is very intuitive and provides all the information you need to help you choose the right objective and optimize your Instagram video ads.

Video marketing statistics 2021


Now, once you define what you want to achieve with your campaign, you should choose a clear CTA that’s properly aligned with said goal so that viewers understand what they should do once they finish watching your video ad.

For instance, let’s say you sell gorgeous sunglasses, and you’re using a short product video to launch your new collection and attract new potential buyers. It makes sense then to add a Learn More or Shop Now CTA button rather than a Subscribe or Download one.

Create shoppable posts

If you run an eCommerce store, a good practice for your Instagram video ad strategy is to use shoppable posts.

Basically, these allow advertisers to tag different products in each video post. That way, when people see an ad in their feeds, a shopping bag icon will appear, and when they click on it, a product description page will pop up.

On the description page, users will have an image of each product, a brief description, the price, and a link that takes them directly to your website, where they can finish the checkout process and purchase the product.

As you can see, shoppable posts can easily (and organically) complete the experience, enhance your ads’ performance, and encourage users to take action. So, if your strategy’s main goal is to drive more traffic to your website or landing page and boost sales, you should definitely consider using them.

Instagram video statistics

Tips & Tricks for Instagram Video Ads

Before we jump right into some cool examples, here’s a shortlist with more quick tips to make awesome Instagram video ads!

  • Optimize your landing page for mobile: A great majority of users access Instagram from mobile devices. So, if your CTA button links to a landing page, make sure it’s optimized for mobile. Make it responsive; keep it simple and branded, include a prominent, specific CTA, and communicate value.
  • Make your ads feel organic: We mentioned this before, but we can’t stress enough how important it is: The whole reason why Instagram video ads work is that they feel organic and natural in feeds. Yes, they should be high-quality and branded, but the more they look like a regular post, the better engagement they’ll get. Keep that in mind when creating your next ad!
  • Mind your thumbnails: Even though video ads auto-play on Instagram, the app lets users disable that option when they’re on mobile data. This means that they will see a thumbnail instead. The thing with Instagram is you can’t custom-make a thumbnail from scratch – you need to choose an image from your video. So, when selecting yours, make sure it’s an attractive image that encourages users to click and watch your ad.
  • Test: As much as you might know your audience, there’s no way to accurately predict how they’ll respond to your ads. This is why we recommend creating multiple versions of your Instagram video ad – with different headlines, copy, CTA, etc -, and A/B test it to see which one works best with your target audience.

Video marketing guide for 2020

Awesome Instagram Video Ad Examples You Can Learn From!

There are many different creative avenues you can take on Instagram when it comes to ads. So, if you’re looking for some inspiration to create a new campaign, check these awesome Instagram video ad examples!


To promote its anti-slip mat, Ikea chose to go with a fun, heart-warming approach – It features a dad playfully chasing his daughter – in a lovely monster costume – and falling down because of the slippery floor. A scene that repeats itself until the dad manages to keep on chasing her thanks to Ikea’s anti-flip mat.

On top of that, they also wrote a clever copy line below the ad -“What if an anti-slip mat turned a dining room into a playroom?” – that rather than focusing on the product’s features or fabrics, establishes its potential value.


Ver esta publicación en Instagram


Una publicación compartida por IKEA UK (@ikeauk)


When you sell delicious, mouth-watering ice-creams, you need to take advantage of that. Something that the world-famous ice-cream brand, Häagen-Dazs, has done with this video ad that presents a new flavor.

It combines a set of different techniques that make the video – therefore, the product – look very tasty and desirable – Simple but very detailed shots of the ice-cream, slow motion, clear text, and a tune that fits perfectly with the ad’s overall tone.


Quip is a company that sells electric brushes, floss, toothpaste, and other related products. Evidently, it’s not an “exciting” industry; however, the brand has a very edgy and modern identity – Which they clearly reflect in their products’ design and overall Instagram content approach.

Take this ad as an example – To illustrate how important it’s for your health to have good habits (like brushing your teeth and flossing), the video ad features different people using their cool products. All while they convey a simple brand message: Quip makes (dental) habits simple and fun.


Ver esta publicación en Instagram


Una publicación compartida por quip (@quip)

Califia Farms

For this autumn, Califia Farms developed a new pumpkin spice latte cold brew. And to advertise the beverage on Instagram, the company decided to go with a short animated video.

Everything in this piece is purposely designed to immediately transport the viewers and put them in a “warm and cozy” frame of mind – The color palette, sound effects, and gorgeous visuals with leaves floating around.

Also, note that Califia Farms is a vegan, plant-based company that encourages people to be mindful about their diets and their impact on the planet. So, they wrote a copy and added a hashtag that’s aligned with that core value.


To give audiences a first look at the iPhone’s new model, Apple decided to focus on one single feature – The camera’s portrait mode.

Just like everything the brand does, this Instagram video ad is very minimalist, classy, and elegant – It basically displays a series of super detailed and high-quality portrait photos with different types of lighting effects.

It’s clear, illustrative, and goes quickly to the point.


Ver esta publicación en Instagram


Una publicación compartida por apple (@apple)

Wrapping Up

Thanks to its huge and highly engaged user base, robust targeting options, and unique approach to video content, Instagram has become the go-to place that brands regularly use to run effective video ad campaigns.

If well implemented, Instagram video ads can easily help you promote brand discovery, attract new followers, build a solid social media presence, and increase conversions.

However, for them to work, you need to do more than just randomly sharing a couple of branded videos. Like everything in advertising, it takes a lot of thorough analysis and good planning. Or else, you’ll be wasting your time and money.

So, if you’re just getting started with video ads on Instagram, we hope this guide was helpful enough and gave you a solid point of reference for your next campaign.

Good luck!

Ready to Start your Video? Get a custom Quote

Keep up with the latest in
video marketing

Sign up for our newsletter, biweekly
digest from our video experts.