A Beginner's Guide To Paid Instagram Ads (And Why Should Be Doing It)

We understand that paid advertising can be a daunting pool to dive into so we’ve put together a small guide to help you get started. From growing reach to increased website traffic, paid ads (if done correctly) have the potential to raise your brand awareness and your social presence.

What exactly is paid advertising and retargeting, and how can it help drive traffic to your website?

Let’s take it back to basics. Paid Instagram ads can take a range of forms. They can be used to target existing or potential customers and should always contain visual (s) alongside a call-to-action.

Photo ads are the simplest form, appearing in a news feed on or an Instagram story containing a call-to-action. This could i.e be a link to your brand website, an incentive to sign up to your newsletter or a new product promotion.

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Video ads (or GIFs) are similar to single photo posts, as they can be posted on a story or into a news feed. Again, these include a call-to-action that can help to promote and target a key brand element.


With carousel ads you can post a selection of images to broaden the content range of your paid ad. These will appear in news feeds and require the viewer to manually scroll through to view each of the images.

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Slide show ads are similar to a carousel ads but with automatic image scrolling. Again, these can show a range of images whilst including the vital call-to-action.

Make the ads tailored to your audience - and your brand

Before doing anything, make sure that your target audience is on Instagram. If they are (great!) - now it’s time to get to know your customers better. There’s no point targeting the wrong audience with irrelevant ads as you won’t see a return on them, so have a look at your audience in Google Analytics and figure out who your top customers are. What are their interests? Where are they based? What are their age? Once you’ve broken down all the key details you will have a much better understanding of what type of content they are likely to respond best to and it will ensure that your ads speak to them. Nailing your core customers will also help you make the most out of your paid content.

Before scheduling your paid ad to go live, you will be met with a range of options that allow you to tailor your content to best fit your brand and your consumers. Firstly, what do you want the post to do? Are you keen to increase profile views? Or do you want to get more website visits? It is important to have a clear idea of your main objectives before posting your content to ensure that your ad is as successful as possible. Next you will need to select your ad audience. We recommend going with the Automatic options as this tailors your reach to those who have similar interests to your existing followers. Finally, you will need to select your budget and the duration of your post. Instagram have a handy tool that allows you to roughly calculate the predicted reach of a post dependent on the budget and length of time. We suggest starting small, monitor how your posts perform and adjust your process and content accordingly.

In addition to paid ads, an effective influencer marketing strategy can help drive awareness and enable you to reach a wider audience. Ready to approach influencers but not sure where to start? Have a peek at our Influencer Outreach service here.

Rosie Davies