Last year, Instagram hit 400 million users, and there’s no sign that user growth is slowing down any time soon. It’s an already huge market, and if you’re not advertising there, the right time to start is now—in 2015 only 36% of marketers were using Instagram, but every day more and more are realizing its value.
If you want to reach Millennials, get more engagement per post than Twitter, or boost your brand awareness, you need to be on Instagram. But you can’t just take your existing social campaigns and export them—it’s a different platform than Facebook and Twitter, with its own learning curve. Color, clear imagery, and subtle language are much more effective than blunt, direct calls-to-action, and there are a wholly different set of best practices you need to follow.
The best way to start thinking about your own Instagram campaign is to see what’s worked (or not) for other companies. Here are 37 Instagram ads examples broken down by the different company type: e-commerce, consumer product, and services and entertainment companies. In this comprehensive Instagram Ads gallery you can see images, and find out why they’re great, or where they can be improved, to inspire your own amazing ad campaigns.
Instagram is a great place to show off a rotating line of products and offers, so it’s no surprise that E-Commerce companies are a huge early adopter of the site. This category includes big, established name brands with brick and mortar operations, and scrappy startup apps offering their own products or a range of other items.
Gilt knows that blues and light browns are a classic combination in men’s fashion and do a great job building an image around the brown shoes and colorful blue accessories. The shoes, shirts, and accessories are also arranged in crossing lines that create a visually pleasing pattern that’s bound to stand out on the Instagram feed.
JustFab decided to shake things up a bit to show off all the shoes and accessories for the Fall season. The picture looks great, except for the jumble of text in the top right of the screen. Although the large “Free” is eye catching, it distracts from the otherwise fun image, and might drive people away for being too direct.
Is there anything prettier than a fresh bouquet of flowers? Maybe not, but Macy’s makes it clear that the new line of Pantone cosmetics are at least as pretty in this great image that shows them almost bursting out of a bouquet. The use of unique hashtags is a great way to connect with interested fans and is also a smart way to build a relevant audience on other channels like Facebook.
Petsmart was smart to regram an actual person’s image for this post. Not only is it a great picture, but it feels natural when other people see it on their feed—because it is! The ad itself also goes for a subtle approach to brand promotion, offering helpful information and positioning Petsmart as a go to place for new pet owners.
Do you wish you had a cleaner, more colorful desk? Take a look at this ad from Staples, and you might start thinking about how much better your space would look with some Poppin products to cut through the clutter. The language is all about the benefits to you, the customer—however you want to reorganize your space, you can.
Why should you shop on the e-commerce site Spring? Well, because Vogue says so. As you can see in most of the other Instagram ads examples, marketers tend to shy away from language in Instagram ads, but e-commerce app Spring nailed it, building strong social proof from one of the biggest names in fashion.
Food delivery app EatSprig knows that green is the color you want when you want to get people hungry, and use plenty of it in their beautiful, colorful salad bowl. Amongst all the other food pictures your friends are posting on Instagram, this ad feels right at home.
Consumer Product Ads
The Instagram ads gallery continues with the product brands you know and love. For companies that want to show off their own products, Instagram is a perfect place to not just advertise a product, but also to build brand engagement and create brand awareness.
Dayquil does a really great job of building a buyer persona for its product with a carefully curated image. If you’re adventerous, creative, and under the weather, this ad makes it clear that Dayquil is what you need to get out and get your job done.
Yogabed builds its own miniature Instagram ads gallery with carousel images to show their mattress is right for all sorts of people, and prove their tagline “The Best Mattress for Everyone.” With benefit driven language like “Sleep Cool. Wake Refreshed” or “Zip. Wash. Repeat,” and images of young attractive people, they make it clear that whoever you are, you’ll enjoy sleeping on this mattress.
The images in this HTC ad are almost bursting with color. While they nail the images, the text itself could use some improvement. They use a Learn More call-to-action, but include a hyperlink in the text itself that users can’t click on. HTC would have been better off using a Shop Now call-to-action and including branded hashtags in the text so that people could share images and build more engagement with the brand.
Fossil does a great job of mixing text and images to create a buyer persona for people who like luxury but also want to stand out. They do it by creating an off-kilter arrangement of items along with text that implies Fossil offers “high fashion” as well as “high quirk.”
Lemon and Line accessory makers know that red gets attention, and the whole ad is an attention grabbing mix of primary colors. Red, yellow, and blue are triadic colors, meaning they’re equally apart on the color wheel, creating high contrast but also strong balance and harmony. You can see the product clearly on the model’s wrist, but it’s not the focus of the image—instead, it’s just one part of an attractive whole.
Kudos to the Tornado Shaker for creating an image that doesn’t look too glossy and professional, but it’s gone a bit too far in the wrong direction—the poor lighting is not exactly exciting and compared to other examples in this Instagram ads gallery, it doesn’t show off the product well at all. The language “An advanced protein shaker you can buy now” could also use some work. It’s great that I can buy it now—but why should I?
The fashion brand I.D. Sarrieri didn’t need the extra text on their image, but otherwise their image looks right at home on Instagram. On top of that, they use a strong emotional appeal in their text with language like “escape to your perfect paradise.”
People are instictively drawn to symmetry, whether it’s in faces, paintings, or interiors, and L’Occitane uses that love of symmetry in this engaging image. The purples and greens evoke luxury and naturalness, and the images of plants are a clever way to convey the scent of each lotion.
Garmin Fitness wants people to know that their watch is the fitness watch for people with a healthy lifestyle. The attractive woman taking a break mid work out, and the bright, optimistic sunlight fits in with Instagram’s beautiful, aspirational aesthetic.
Can you guess the buyer persona that Laughing Bone is trying to reach? If you guessed dog lovers, you’re right! In case the t-shirt isn’t obvious, the language in the text also establishes a strong emotional appeal—if you buy their t-shirt, you’re not just showing the world you love dogs, you’re actually helping them.
Walmart’s playful image is a great example of subtlety and Instagram-centric branding. They’re not actually directly selling this Pioneer Woman Cookie Jar, because there’s no Shop Now call-to-action. Instead, the fun language and image feel like a nice (if a little cheesy) post that anyone might share.
It’s very easy to oversell on Instagram, as Numestyle proves in this ad. There’s just way too much text in the image, which is otherwise very engaging. If people know they’re being sold to on Instagram, they’re much more likely to be deterred from ever engaging with the brand.
If your go to drink on a cold day was hot chocolate, Illy would humbly like you to consider a perfectly foamed latte instead. It’s not just a playful image either—they’ll actually show you how to recreate this latte at home. The call-to-action, hashtags, and link to Illy’s Master Barista Instagram account give people who love their coffee lots of different ways to share it with Illy and other fans.
You’re nervous—you have lots of people coming to your playoff viewing party, and you’re not sure your famous bean dip is impressive enough to keep them happy. Smirnoff is here to help with a super easy tip for serving up a batch of unique, beautiful looking drinks. The tip, colorful drinks, and mason jars are a nice mix that appeals to a buyer persona of creative, DIY type.
What’s your favorite shade? It’s easy to choose from among 14 different colors with this clever arrangement from Burt’s Bees. As another bonus, the ad uses several rather shades of red, an immediately eye catching color.
Looking for a luxurious gift for Valentine’s Day? Chambord’s image screams luxury with its gorgeous arrangement and gold and purple colors. In case you’re not totally convinced, they play up the loss aversion factor by letting people know this offer is only a limited edition.
Honest Turkey is actually Honeysuckle White, an all natural turkey company. In this shot, they create a really nice composition with the bowl and napkin. If there’s a problem, it’s that brown is rarely an appealing color in any Instagram Ads examples, but especially for food. They also waste a lot of space in the text box, since users can’t click on the link for the recipe. Better to use that space to promote a deal or branded hashtags instead.
Services, Entertainment, Destinations, and More
You don’t need to be in the business of selling products to be successful on Instagram. These Instagram ads examples show service providers, entertainment companies, and destination brands all know how to engage with consumers and drive interest on the site.
There’s a reason a company like National Geographic is one of the most followed accounts on Instagram—people love seeing pictures from around the world. Delta’s carousel ads are a perfect example of how to play up this interest. The pictures of captivating Brazilian sites and the strong text “More” in each picture drives consumers to swipe through. By the end of the slideshow, users will want to go to Brazil, and know that Delta can take them there.
Want to get outside, but don’t know where? Livday.sf uses a beautifully composed, natural image of a mountain and hikers to build a buyer persona around adventurous nature lovers. It effectively builds on that image by stoking loss aversion with its call to “never miss an opportunity” right above the Install Now call-to-action.
After looking at these pictures of Montana, you’ll be tempted to book a trip immediately. A combination of extreme action shots, beautiful scenery, and rustic cabins give the sense that Montana has something for anyone (as long as you like the snow).
Your School Match, a college matching company, uses a carousel ad to appeal to several types of identities and aspirations. The large text bar on the screen could be overwhelming, but it cleverly uses a blue font, which conveys trust and authority, and transparency so the image behind the words isn’t lost completely.
The marketing team for the film The Choice knows Instagram—rather than overtly market the movie, this ad looks like it would fit in with anyone’s feed—as long as they had friends who excelled at taking beautiful, romantic landscape pictures. Except for unobtrusive text and carefully chosen branded hashtags, the ad lets the image speak for itself.
The Vibe video app uses more text than is ideal in Instagram ads, but it works because of its strong emotional appeal that speaks to benefits, not product features (share your story, share how you feel). The freeze frame shot of a skater leaping off into the sunset is impossibly cool, and gives users the impression Vibe is, too.
Bond Bar in San Francisco has chosen some attractive images for their carousel ad, but they’re a bit out of place for the purpose of advertising before the Superbowl. The lead slide features a lot of text and an artificial image that feels out of place on Instagram, which is dominated by natural images. Meanwhile the images of the bar, while attractive, don’t have any people—and why would you get excited about watching the Superbowl in any empty bar?
Social Code does a nice job composing their image, with the phone in focus and an espresso behind it. Looking at the image, you get the idea that this app is for the motivated, caffeinated, early risers who want to get things done. If there’s any problem, it’s that there’s simply too much text on the screen that could prove distracting.
Livenation knows exactly what the people want—news on the shows they want to see, and a way to buy tickets. They give people exactly what they want—a picture of everyone’s favorite inspirational snap-chatter, DJ Khaled, and everyone’s favorite ageless hitmaker, Pharell. Now that you know who’s playing, a Book Now call-to-action to make it easy to grab your tickets.
Instead of using a carousel ad, Samsung cleverly puts three different images of their new phone on one screen to show off the sorts of beautiful images you can create with their new camera. It’s an image that says one phone, lots of possibilities. They’re showing off a new feature, but with a strong appeal to how people can use it in creative ways.
The Cromwell Vegas hotel makes sure to include red, a naturally eye catching color, in every image of their carousel ad. Even in a poolside image filled with cool greens and blues, the cabana chairs are a catchy shade of red.
Blue is the perfect color to evoke trust and confidence, which is an absolute necessity in an app that lets you talk to a therapist anytime, anywhere. Talkspace knows that, and uses blue in every image of their carousel ad. It starts with the banner color at the top, but they find clever ways to fit it in in other images too: on a park bench, or a person’s jeans.
As you can see from the rest of these Instagram ads examples, Instagram is a great venue for B2C companies, but not necessarily for other companies like StackAdapt, a B2B native advertising platform. Although it might reach the right audience of marketers on Instagram, the cartoonish image doesn’t fit in on Instagram, which doesn’t instill confidence that they know how to reach people.