Instagram Reels Advertising: Why And How to Use Instagram Reels in Your Ad Strategy

Published 
August 24, 2022
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nstagram launched Reels globally in 2021 and instantaneously became popular with users, opening up a new opportunity for advertisers. 

Instagram Reels ads blend into the organic content without disrupting the user experience, which is key for successful advertising in today’s landscape. 

In this article we'll look at the opportunities that Instagram Reels advertising offers, and tips to create successful content!

Social Competition Is Driving Evolution

In the constant war for consumer attention, TikTok was the latest newcomer to shake things up and drive the massively popular trend for short videos.

Short video is hugely important content format for marketers to leverage, as demonstrated by a Wyzowl survey where 73% of respondents said they most like to learn about new products or services through short videos.

Globally, the four most popular social media platforms had the following number of monthly active users as of January 2022:

  1. Facebook: 2.91 billion 
  2. YouTube: 2.56 billion
  3. Instagram: 1.48 billion
  4. TikTok: 1 billion

Instagram is most popular with Millennials and Gen Z, reaching over 56% of the population in the US. However, TikTok has seen rapid user growth over the last 5 years thanks to the draw of its rolling video-short format. TikTok expected to overtake Instagram by the end of 2022, being particularly popular with pre-teens, teens and young adults in their 20s. 

Reels was Instagram’s answer to TikTok. Reels have been pushed to the forefront of Instagram’s user interface and has gained popularity with users.

However, compared with TikTok, there is still less competition for ad space, which is a big advantage if Instagram is home to your target audience. Instagram also has greater reach amongst a slightly older demographic than TikTok, predominantly aged between 18-34. 

The Instagram Reels Opportunity For Advertisers

As with all social ads, you can be discovered by new customers even if they don’t follow you. You get greater reach into a larger audience, with targeting according to user interests and selected demographics. The format of the Instagram Reels ads also provides a smoother transition between the organic and sponsored content because with a native format, they look the same.

There are three top selling points that advertisers can take advantage of:

1. More Ad Inventory + Cheaper CPMs

With more people online since 2020, the opportunity to reach new customers through social is greater than ever before. However, Facebook is becoming less cost-effective than in previous years, especially with iOS 14 enabling users to opt out  of ad tracking. That means it’s harder to accurately filter for your target audience, making it more important to diversify your ad strategy and platform adoption so you can test and optimize for better Return on Ad Spend (ROAS).

Instagram Reels can be compared to the impact of Instagram Stories, which was inspired by Snapchat when it was the industry newcomer. It’s another creative-first placement option that delivers cheaper impressions and expanded Top-of-Funnel (ToFU) touchpoints.

2. Creative-First Placements Drive More Conversions

Instagram Reels offers advertisers an additional and compelling placement opportunity within Instagram’s established ecosystem. With Reels, Instagram is doubling down on the imperative for more engaging content to boost user engagement, which benefits advertisers by helping to drive more clicks and conversions in turn. 

As any top-tier advertiser in the industry will tell you, creative is king when it comes to social advertising! Those who master the art of creative get the clicks (and testing is key to optimization). If you can get the hang of creating compelling Reels content, you’ll up your customer acquisition game to another level. And any content that works well on Reels can be leveraged for TikTok, or vice versa.

3. More Screen Real Estate, More Impact

Reels ads will only show when the user is in a full-screen immersive experience. 

Unlike Feed placements, your creative will have the opportunity to take up the full real estate of the screen. That gets you a level deeper in engagement with your prospect. It represents an important brand awareness opportunity that’s worth investing in to get right.

Reels also creates a smoother transition between organic content, bringing you a more engaged audience.

How Instagram Reels Advertising Works

Reels is a viewer that exclusively shows vertically scrolling videos. Videos are looping, and presented in vertical full-screen mode. 

  • Ads will appear between other users' organic (non-promoted) videos and can be up to 30 seconds long. That’s less than organic Reels, which can be up to 60 seconds long.
  • Just like organic videos, users can still like, comment, click, save and share ads. 
  • There is a small “sponsored” tag to identify ads, and users can skip the ad or tap the post menu to hide or report it.

Ad placements will appear in all the most popular places for accessing Reels, which includes: 

  • Reels Tab
  • Reels in Stories
  • Reels in Explore
  • Reels in Feed

If you're unsure how to create Instagram Reels ads, create a new campaign in Meta Ads Manager, then:

  1. Under "Placements options", run a standalone Reels ad campaign by selecting "Manual placements". Select the drop-down menu next to Stories and tick the box next to "Instagram Reels".
  2. Alternatively, select "Automatic placements" to include Reels ads among other video campaign placements across Meta's ecosystem.

For reporting, Instagram has an extension of its Insights feature for the Reels ads, allowing you to track these metrics:

  • Accounts reached (Followers & Non-followers)
  • Plays
  • Likes
  • Comments
  • Shares
  • Saves
instagrams reels ads insights
Source: Instagram

The Key To Instagram Reels Advertising Success? 

Half Past Nine has three top tips to help you get the most from Instagram Reels!

1. Stay native

The most important and often overlooked component of social advertising is being able to meet the customer where they are. Reels is creating a strong push for ad creative to become highly native. There’s no getting away with half-hearted and uninspiring content here! 

That means leaning into viral trends, using native editing tools on TikTok or Reels, leveraging TikTok creatives on Instagram, and focusing on User Generated Content (UGC) as much as possible.

Get to know your customers so you can engage them on a personal level. Speak their language and use storytelling for an engaging experience. It helps to adopt the mind-set of an influencer rather than a hardline advertiser.

Generating emotive responses will also get you better results. Ads using emotional content perform twice as well as ads with factual content, and 70% of people who experienced an intense emotional response to an advert are very likely to buy the product.

If it’s not already an integral part of your process, start testing more content styles so you can optimize engagements, conversions and ROAS. It’s worth the effort! 

Need some inspiration for effective creative copy?

2. Take full advantage of the Loop

Reels automatically loop, meaning your ad will keep playing again and again. The amount of plays are important for the success of your campaign, so try to find a way to tie the end of your video into the beginning. You’ll increase your chances of a higher number of plays if your ad keeps the attention of the viewer. 

In addition, Facebook says that ads that are 15 seconds or less have a better chance to be watched until the end. By keeping your ad short and to the point, you can also increase your number of plays.

3. Use the CTA options well

Reels gives you the same CTA options as feed advertisements. These are 1-click buttons that send your user directly to the action you want them to take. Make sure you choose the best option for your campaign objective as there’s a number to choose from

instagram ads CTA options
Source: Meta

Take full advantage of the “Shop Now” CTAs, and ensure the first sentence of your copy is compelling. You want your prospects to tap and see more of your amazing products or services - that's what it’s all about after all!

For your copy, the most important part is how you start it. Reels don’t show the full copy, but you can tap to extend and read it all. Make the most of your first sentence as that may be the only part of your copy that your viewers will see. 

You can also add product tags and make your reels ads shoppable.

4. Don’t get cut-off

Finally, on a technical note, the creative stays consistent with the story format of 9x16. However, be conscious of not placing any important creative in the bottom 420px. This will ensure your key creative elements don’t get cut off by the CTA copy, or minimize each other’s impact.

Here’s an example below of the CTA copy that overlays the creative. 

instagram reels captions
Source: Instagram

And that’s Instagram Reels advertising in a nutshell! 

Knowing how to maximize the impact of every dollar in your ad budget can be daunting. If you need support with your ad strategy + delivery, Half Past Nine are here to help. Get in touch with us anytime to explore an alignment.

Before you go, check our more essential Half Past Nine insights for marketers:

Research Worth Reading:

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