What The “Instagram Story Ad” Update Means For Your Online Business In 2019

I’m going to skip the usual introduction and get straight into the meat…

TechCrunch recently published an article titled “Instagram’s next cash cow: instant Promote ads for Stories” that reveals the release of a game-changing Instagram feature which marketers have been requesting for years!

Business pages will be allowed to “Promote” their Instagram stories as paid advertisements that will auto-target people on the basis of location, similarity to followers, and many more targeting parameters.

 That way, when users who are NOT followers of those business pages go into their “Stories” queue, they will see the ad (if they are being targeted). There may be a link towards the Instagram profile of the advertiser, or a website.

For those of you who haven’t heard, Instagram has launched a brand new feature. Just like with Facebook ads, spending more money means that your ad will be exposed to more users.

Creating high-converting ads in the form of videos or pictures will no longer be an exhausting task. You simply create your Story as you normally would, and choose the option to make it a paid advertisement.

This feature is going to be rolled out globally and likely available to the public within Q1 of 2019.

Are you excited? If you are dead serious about monetizing your page, you should be!

If you aren’t, allow me to explain what the future implications of this new feature will be.

All of what I am about to tell you is mere speculation – nobody, not even me, can predict the future with 100% accuracy.

But having consulted with multiple Instagram experts in the field, these predictions will likely manifest themselves exactly as described.

Instagram Story Ad Implication #1: Advertising On Instagram Will Be Far Easier Than On Any Other Social Media Platform

If you have ever spent any amount of time with the Facebook ads platform, I feel your pain.

The interface is extremely complex to use, it feels like you are grasping at straws to understand how to use it effectively, and it can be very expensive to maintain.

Unless you are part of the top 1% who has a ridiculous amount of ad spend or have some hidden strategy up your sleeve (I PROMISE you that there are a lot of fakers in that space), you will find it very frustrating to advertise on Facebook.

Instagram, due to the fact that it is entirely mobile in nature, will not have this same problem.

Think about it: All of analytics data and metric tracking have to fit on nothing bigger than the screen of your smartphone.

It is in Instagram’s best interests to make advertising on their platform as ridiculously easy as possible.

After all, they’re a multi-billion dollar company – why would they want to leave money on the table?

But don’t take this to mean that Instagram’s paid ad functionality is going to be any less powerful.

You’ll be able to do the following things and more:

  • Allocate your ad spend
  • Determine how long the ad will run for
  • Set the location for your ad to be placed in
  • Customize the audience (age, gender, interest, and more)
  • State the goal of your advertisement (more visits to your websites/profile, reach people at a certain geographical location)
  • Take your most viral (i.e. highest engagement) posts and “boost” them as an ad.
  • Track the performance of your ad in real time.

No more gaming the Instagram algorithm in clever ways to get your brand in front of people in your target market who aren’t currently following you.

You now have an easy and affordable way to directly advertise to them!

And considering that 1 out of every 5 Instagram Stories gets a direct message from its viewers  – according to statements from Instagram in 2017 – you know what kind of content will deliver the best results possible.

NOTE: Do keep in mind that the fundamentals of good advertising are still in play!

That means making your offer upfront to your audience in a direct and easy-to-understand way. It means communicating the benefits of your offer that speak to the core desires and fears of your target market.

It means using high-quality visuals to attract attention at first sight. It means using a super-simple yet clear call to action that clearly tells people where and how they can make a purchase.

Instagram Story Ad Implication #2: Instagram Stories Archive + Highlights Will Rapidly Rise In Their Usefulness

I’m more surprised that people aren’t taking full advantage of these features, as they were somewhat released under the radar in 2017.

Only a few people took them seriously as additional tools in one’s marketing toolbox.

If you haven’t heard of these features yet, here’s a quick and dirty summary of what they do…

Instagram Stories Archive allows you to automatically save all of your Stories in the cloud for storage (and eventual revival, if you wish).

 Instagram Stories Highlights allows you to take a Story, whether published or archived, and permanently host it on top of your page (thus extending their normal 24-hour lifespan)

There are multiple tutorials online about setting these features up on your page, and how to effectively use them as ways to engage with followers and non-followers.

But here’s how they both fit in the context of paid Instagram Story advertising…

First, thanks to the Archive feature, you will never “lose” any of your precious ads. They will safely be stored in the cloud, along with all of the metrics related to their performance.

This will give you as much as time as you need to see where adjustments need to be made, while also seeing what works and doesn’t work with your target audience.

Second, the Highlights feature will allow you to milk out every last drop of value from your most successful Stories.

If you have a holiday Story ad that proved to be profitable, you can always re-use it when the season comes back again.

Should you have an evergreen offer that generates a lot of leads and sales no matter what time of the year it is, you can always keep it up on top of your profile (or spend more money promoting it).

You can mix and match your Story ads as much as you like. There’s no limit on what you are able to do with them.

Instagram Story Ad Implication #3: Instagram Stories Analytics Will Be The Lifeblood Of Effective Instagram Advertising

No duh!

Not to worry though – there are only a handful of key metrics that business pages need to look out for:

Forward / Tap Forward:This is the number of times a viewer will tap right and go to the next story (if there is one).

You want this number to be as low as possible. It may mean that a button is mis-placed too far to the right, leading to an accidental skip. Of course, the simpler explanation is that your ad wasn’t effective. It may have been too boring, or drawn out too long.

Back / Tap Backward: This is the number of times a viewer will tap left and go to the previous story (if there is one).

Olga Rabo of Social Media Examiner, who wrote the article “How To Analyze Instagram Stories With Instagram Insights” states that this metric is especially important to keep track of.

Think about it for a second…if a lot of people are making an effort to re-watch a particular piece of content, you might be on to something good!

Exited: The number of timesa viewer exits the Story queue altogether to return to the main feed. This happens when a viewer clicks the “x” button to exit, swipes down or closes the Instagram app altogether.

Just like “Forward,” having a high number of this metric indicates that your ad is not performing very well. There may be one or several characteristics that cause this, so pool all your low-performing ads together and see if there are any common themes or elements.

Note that this metric may be less reliable if you have a clickable link in your story. Instagram considers your “swiping up” to click the link as an exit. Alternatively, a user may have lost time while watching a sequence of Stories.

Next Story: This number indicates the number of times a user tapped to go to the next account’s story.

 This is a strong indicator that your Story is being over-watched, and you may want to consider increasing or decreasing the number of slides in your Story.

You want to keep the number of “exits” and “next stories” as low as possible. A high number indicates that your content is not resonating with your audience.

Reach: This is the number of unique users who have actually seen the story (i.e. each and every slide in it).

Impressions:This is the number of times your story has been viewed in total.

Unlike “reach,” this accounts for people who watch your story multiple times. If one user keeps on watching your story over and over again, your impressions will increase while your reach stays the same.

This means that a story which gets replayed multiple times will have a higher “impressions” number than the “reach” number, which will always be the case. Just make sure to note the gap between the two numbers.

Reach and Impressions should be viewed side-by-side to gain a proper understanding of how large your stories’ audience is.

Keep in mind that as your account grows in follower size, your reach will generally decrease.

Swipe-Ups: This is the number of times a viewer will swipe up on a story and click on a link (if it’s there).

This is a crucial metric to keep track of, according to Lexie Carbone of Later.com who penned the article “Instagram Stories Analytics: Every Metric You Need To Know.”

If you are trying to drive traffic towards a sales funnel or website, this is priority #1. Make it blatantly obvious in your Story that people need to Swipe up in the form of text and arrows.

Replies: This is the number of times that a viewer responds to your Story and sends a direct message your way, thus beginning a conversation.

Like swipe-ups, these are very important to look at. This is your change to see what drives the highest level of engagement, and truly understand what motivates your followers to personally reach out to you.

Together, these paint a complete picture of how an Instagram user will interact with your Story ad from start to finish, whether it’s one or a series of pictures/video within a Story.

You’ll better understand their behaviour, and the exact point at which your ad converted or otherwise failed to do so.

Furthermore, you’ll be able to be in a more informed position to do basic A/B testing. You can change some of the copy, change the order of the slides, adjust the offer, and more!

Just remember to examine one variable at a time with a substantial audience to accurately measure what’s working and what isn’t.

Your lowest-performing ads will tell you as much as your highest-performing ads.

Get Ready For The Instagram Advertising Apocalypse!

I don’t think I need to say more than what’s already been said.

Thanks to the soon-to-be-released feature of paid Instagram Story advertising, combined with several of the new features rolled out for Instagram Stories, marketing on this mobile social media platform will never be the same.

Don’t be surprised when Instagram gradually eclipses Facebook and other titans in its space when it comes to paid advertising.

And thanks to the lower barrier of entry with respect to creating ads and tracking their performance, you can guarantee that everyone is going to want a piece of the action.

Start putting some serious thought into how you plan to use this new feature. The person who hesitates is the one who will always lose.