How to Advertise on Instagram

eCommerce Tips
Ksenia Emelyanova
Ksenia Emelyanova
Marketing manager at X‑Cart

Struggling to get more followers and likes, we can not ignore the opportunity Instagram itself gives us to reach millions – Instagram ads.

The very first wave of ads were met with hatred from users. But the time flies, and the audience has become more loyal to a sponsored content.

Back in March 2017 Instagram welcomed the 1,000,000th advertiser. Now it is a proven way to drive traffic to eCommerce websites, generate sales leads for your business and promote your profile effectively.

How much does Instagram ad costs?

According to the average cost per click (CPC) for Instagram ads in Q3 ranged between $0.70 and $0.80 for all age ranges.

But average is average. It takes the crazy spends of a huge advertiser like Coca-Cola, adds the very modest budget of a local goat-soap making business, divides the sum by two and as a results gets the figure that makes you feel like our goat soap maker has just broken a bank to pay these bills.

So if you want more exact figures, I have some, kindly provided by AdEsresso.

Their report shows how much the cost of Instagram ad varies, based on gender, age, day of the week, month, device used.

AdEsresso analysed the data of their users from Q1, Q2, and July of Q3 in 2017. The entire budget of ads analysed exceeds $100million, which is a pretty decent figure, so the findings seem to be reliable.

CPC by Gender
CPC by Age
CPC by Day

Source: Source:

What mechanism defines the cost of a particular ad on Instagram?

It’s an auction.

Every time, when there is an opportunity to show a sponsored post to an Instagram user, the auction starts. The “bidders” of this auction are all of the ads with the target audience that the user belongs to.

However the winning ad isn’t necessarily the highest monetary bidder. Instagram tries to provide its users with relevant, high-quality content, so the auction winner is the ad that creates the most value for users.

It takes into account the previous actions of the person you’re trying to reach and your ad’s historical performance data, both positive (likes, clicks) and negative (hiding the add or marking it as irrelevant).

To you as an advertiser it means, that you should advertise on Instagram smartly: the sponsored content must be great, the targeting must be right.

To be able to create an Instagram ad you need

  • Business Instagram account, that, in its turn, requires a Facebook page connected

  • Payment method tied to your Instagram account (Credit or debit card or PayPal)

  • A post of any type (photo, video, carousel and Story) shared on your account

It’s not for nothing they require a Facebook page connected. The Instagram ads are run on the Facebook Ads platform. So if you’re acquainted with Facebook marketing, you will feel at home with configuring Instagram ads too.

Four ways to configure and ad on Instagram

You may start the promotion right inside your Instagram app, via the Facebook page you connected, via Facebook Adverts Manager and via Power Editor. Creating the campaign via Adverts manager/ Power Editor will give you more control over everything ( at least, an illusion of), while the in-app campaign launch is simplified and fast.

The users of X-Cart can also enable the ads with the “Facebook eCommerce” module – and, surprisingy, it’s possible to advertise in Instagram even without having an Instagram account itself!

Let’s study the easier option first.

Start promotion using your Instagram app.

To proceed, open the post you want to promote. The blue “promote” button will appear under the right corner of your posts:

A post with Promote button

Purpose of promotion.

  1. Choose Get More Profile and Website Visits, and you will further be able to choose if you want to boost your following (the Action Button is View Instagram Porfile) or to send leads to the store of yours where the products you advertise are sold online (the CTA is Watch more, Learn more, Shop now, Book now, Sign up, Contact us)

  2. Reach People near an address will further instruct you to chose if you want the visitors to be able to Get DIrections or Call Now. Both CTAs work best for Brick and mortar stores, but not for online ones. Yet, if you have offline presence too, you may benefit from this location-based target audience setup.

Choosing a purpose of the promotion


  1. You can Create your own custom audience and configure it based on location, interests, age and gender.

  2. Another option is Automatic – it offers to rely on the audience generated by the smart advertising engine based on your current list of followers.

An auction system determines how much your Instagram ads will cost. If there are many advertisers targeting the same audience as you do, the competition for becoming a winning (=shown) is going to be high. It means that the cost of ads will be higher too.

If you have a clear understanding of your buyer personas, make sure to Create your own custom audience and narrow it as much as possible. It increases your chances to score the bull’s eye and decreases your expenses on Instagram advertizing at the same time.

Budget and duration

Setting the Instagram campaign budget and duration is easy-peasy. Seriously, it’s hard to make a mistake there.

You can choose one of default settings or set your own value for both. If you try to enter some inappropriate figure (say, 220 days as a campaign duration day or a too small budget), the wizard will not allow to, showing you a warning and explaining you should enter instead.

You will not even be able to practice your mental arithmetics skills, because all the estimated calculations are already shown there: number of accounts you will reach, cost of your campaign per day.

Choosing budget and duration

If you haven’t added a payment method yet, Instagram will remind you about it again, and you’re all set.

As said above, you can also launch the Instagram ad via your Facebook page, and you do not need to be a marketing guru for that. Let’s take a closer look

How to setup Instagram ad on Facebook

Open the Facebook page you have connected to create your Business Instagram account. Find “Manage promotions” link in the left side menu.

Facebook campaign with Promote button

You will be redirected to the promotions management page, choose “Promote Your website” there

Choosing promotions

Choose “Instagram” tab on window the pops up.

Here you will see the same settings as in your Instagram app, with little difference:

  • you can create a post from scratch (see “AD CREATIVE”)

  • you can not choose promoting your Instagram account as a campaign purpose, only “promote a website” is possible.

  • you use three more targeting options: “people who like your page” ,”people who who like your page and their friends”, and “People you choose through targeting”.

Choosing an Instagram campaign

The latter will direct you a separate page with more in-depth settings where you can specify both whom to include and whom to exclude.

Campaign settings

Once all the settings like targeting, budget, duration, image and captions, links and CTA button texts are checked, you’re ready to go.

If you want to target your ads by a number of fancy parameters like device and operational system or behaviour on your website, the third way – via Facebook Ads manager – is for you.

How to create Instagram ad via Facebook Ad manager

Facebook Ads manager is a tool for those who advertise like a pro. With many bells and whistles that are nice to have for a professional, but scary to touch for a newbie.

I would not recommend this method to those whose legs start to wobble at a sight of a dozen of selectors. Use simple Instagram interface instead.

But if you are the one who is not used to agreeing with default settings, let’s see how to harness the full power of Instagram ads.

The linear interface of the ad creation process makes it hard to miss anything important. Give me your hand and let me please guide you.

Assuming you have an ecommerce website to sell the products you promote via Facebook, we will choose “Traffic” as a campaign objective.

Adverts Manager Interface

At the first sight, it will seem that the audience settings are the same. But rub your eyes and and you will see detailed nested menu to narrow the target audience depending on their behaviour, interests and demographics.

Audience settings

Moreover, if you decide to setup locations you will see that it may be further split into “people who live there, people who travel there, people who have been in that location recently”.

Check the other detailed targeting settings as they may be important for your brand. Say, the seller of linen is more likely to make a sale on Instagram, if he targets his ads to locals, and a car rental service will succeed, if the ad is shown to travellers.

But what deserves the special attention is the ability to create “custom audience” and show you ad only to people who:

  • visited your website

  • took specific actions in your app

  • interacted with your brand offline

  • engaged with your Facebook and Instagram content

  • belongs to your customer base already

Trying to returning people interested in your brand is a more fruitful practice than warming up the leads cold as stone, so you may expect higher engagement rates and higher conversions with such an approach.

Ways to create custom audience

Facebook pixel is what you will need, if you decide to create custom audience consisting of your website visitors.

Facebook pixel should be installed in your ecommerce platform to track the conversions and other actions you care about. If your online store is powered by X‑Cart, you can easily insert it with the help of Google Tag manager or use a ready-made Facebook E-Commerce addon available in X‑Cart Business, Multvendor and Ultimate. If it’s powered by another platform, adding this pixel will not be a problem either.

Choosing placements is the next step of ad creation. To advertise on Instagram only, tick “edit placements” and find Instagram among the platforms.

Here you can also choose if you want to show your ad depending on the OS of user’s device. However I doubt if most ecommerce website owners even care if their customers are mainly Apple fans or not. To me, this setting works best for the app developers, pitching their new game for the users of iOS or Android exclusively.

Placements editing

Budget and schedule is the next block to configure.

In addition to budget ( daily or lifetime) and schedule (set start and finish dates or keep showing the ad unless you stop it or run out of money), here you choose if you want to be charged for impressions or per click, if the bid amount is automatic or you will set it manually, if the ad delivery is standard or accelerated.

Budget & schedule editing

After that you proceed with the ad creation itself.

Choose the ad format (Carousel, Single image, Single video or Slide Show). Once you choose the format, the ad manager will open a window to upload your media. There has also appeared a new format of Facebook ads, “Collection”, but it is not supported in Instagram yet.

Choosing an ad format

Rest assured, once you choose the format, you will see all the image/video requirements and recommendations right there. No need to guess. I can’t but applaud to the designers of this Ad Creation interface, sincerely.

Format recommendations

Recently, a new setting has appeared – “Add a full screen experience” aka Canvas. It looks pretty interesting and I hope it will work for Instagram feeds as well one day…. but no.

No, unfortunately, right now the only supported placement for Canvas is mobile Facebook feed. Since we’re talking about Instagram advertising, omit this step – and check it later, I’m sure it will appear there soon, too.

Update posted on Feb 9,2018: The so much desired “Shoppable ads” feature was not long in coming. According to Ad Age, the shoppable “collection” campaign has become available on Instagram for testers. Stay tuned, mass launch coming soon!

Canvas choosing

The very last step of ad creation is pasting links for action button and writing an eye-catching caption text. Thanks to ad preview, updating on the fly as you type, this task is a breeze.

Ad preview

Once you finish, press a large green button “confirm”. It will send the ad to reviewers. Once it’s verified that your ad meets Facebook advertising policies, it will go live.

How to create Instagram ad via Facebook Power Editor

Facebook Power Editor is even a more advanced tool for advertisers. In terms of campaign creation and ad settings, it pretty much resembles Facebook Ad manager.

There’s a good article explaining What is the Difference between Facebook Ads Manager vs Power Editor, in a nutshell and in detail.

I decided not write an instruction on how to create an Instagram ad here.

  • If you have strong reasons to use Power Editor instead of Ads manager, you must be a Facebook advertising guru, so it’s unnecessary for you at all

  • If you are new to Facebook/Instagram advertising, start from simple tools instead 😉

How to measure instagram ads results

First of all, you can view your promotion results in the Instagram Insights: reach, impressions, clicks and budget spent.

Second, the info about your promotion will be visible in Ads Manager and Power Editor, where in addition to the total amount spent on an Ad you will be able to see the Cost per Result.

Ads Manager interface

* * *

I hope advertising on Instagram will now be a breeze for you.

Now let’s return to the most interesting part. Selling on Instagram!

Ready to learn? Let’s go!


1: How to Create an Instagram Business Account

2: How to Get More Followers on Instagram

3: How to Get More Likes on Instagram

4: Instagram Influencer Marketing

5: How to advertise on Instagram

6: How to Sell on Instagram

7: Instagram Analytics

8: Instagram tools

Go to the Beginning