Instagram introduced Reels in August 2020. The TikTok-inspired short-form video format lets users create multi-clip videos of up to 60 seconds and add audio and effects to them. Reels have quickly become a favorite format for the platform’s users to find fresh content and engage with new accounts.
And now, unsurprisingly, brands can further capitalize on the format’s popularity and reach targeted audiences with Reels ads.
Keep reading to learn what Instagram Reels ads are and how to create Reels ads that are engaging and effective.
Launched globally in mid-June 2021, Instagram Reels ads are a new placement for ads on the platform.
Instagram Reels ads are somewhat similar to Stories ads, considering how both:
- Are full-screen, vertical videos
- Show up between regular, non-sponsored Stories/Reels content
- Are marked as sponsored (as all IG ads are)
However, unlike Stories ads, Reels ads loop, can be up to 30 seconds long, and users can like, comment, save, and share the ad content — similar to regular Reels and Instagram posts.
Source: Ruggable on Instagram
Instagram Reels ads show up in the same placements within the app where people discover and consume organic Reels content — in the Reels tab, on the Explore page, and in their feeds.
And that exposure holds a lot of potential. According to Instagram’s Business Team, “Reels is the best place on Instagram to reach people who don’t follow you and a growing global stage where brands and creators can be discovered by anyone. These ads will help businesses reach greater audiences, allowing people to discover inspiring new content from brands and creators.”
“We see Reels as a great way for people to discover new content on Instagram, and so ads are a natural fit. Brands of all sizes can take advantage of this new creative format in an environment where people are already being entertained,” said Justin Osofsky, Chief Operating Officer at Instagram.
To sum things up, Reels ads can be a great avenue to showcase your brand’s creativity and earn your audiences’ attention as they’re scrolling through similar content.
Before you create your first Reels ads, it’s a good idea to test the waters and play around with creating regular, organic Instagram Reels content. This will help you figure out if this is the right ad format for you and, if so, what kind of Reels content should be promoted as ads.
Note that you need to set up an Instagram Business account to get access to the Ads Manager.
Once that’s out of the way, follow these steps to create and publish your first Reels ad:
Make sure your using vertical, full-screen clips with an aspect ratio of 9:16 (or 1080 by 1920 pixels). The last thing you want is to waste your budget on a blurry or cropped ad that looks amateurish.
Also, craft your copy and caption, including your branded hashtags if you have any. Be sure to pair your Reels with relevant, popular audio, so it fits naturally alongside other, non-sponsored Reels your audience is viewing.
With the content ready, go to Ads Manager and click Create.
The next step is to select a business objective for your Reels ad.
Source: Facebook for Business
For Instagram Reels ads, you can pick one of the following objectives:
- Video Views
- Brand Awareness
- App Installs
Next, carefully fill in the campaign details, including the budget, schedule, target audience and delivery options.
Under Placements, choose Manual Placements. Navigate to the dropdown next to Stories and check the box next to Instagram Reels.
Customize your CTA to help your audience take the next step after watching your ad. For instance, you could ask them to:
- Shop Now
- Start a Free Trial
- Download the App
- Check the Fall Catalog
Source: Truebill on Instagram
And you’re done! Your Instagram Reels ad is ready. Once reviewed and approved, it will appear in your target audience’s Instagram Reels tab.
Now that you know what Instagram Reels ads are and how to create one, let’s see how you can make the most of this new ad format.
Here are four core tips for creating an effective Instagram Reels ads strategy.
Are your top competitors using Instagram Reels? If so, what’s their best-performing content in terms of views, likes and comments?
Make note of the Reels content your target audience engages with the most, and use that insight to when crafting creatives for Reels and Reels ads.
For example, if you’re a skincare brand, bite-sized daily tips for getting more out of your skincare products may work better in driving comments and shares than direct product promos.
While analyzing your competitors, also check out how Instagram influencers in your niche are creating Reels.
Instagram’s native analytics tool, Instagram Insights, enables creators and businesses to better understand their performance on Instagram.
For Reels, you can now see metrics such as Plays, Accounts Reached, Likes, Comments, Saves and Shares in Insights.
To check how a specific Reel is doing, open the Reel from your profile, tap the three-dot icon at the bottom right, then tap Insights.
Based on these numbers, you can readily determine which type of Reels content is working well for you. Carry that style forward to create your Instagram Reels ads.
For instance, your Reels Insights might suggest that your viewers engage most with quick AMA-type Reels, and this format reaches the most people. Consequently, making an AMA-type Reels ad is a good bet as you know this format resonates well with your audience.
Reels is Instagram’s answer to TikTok and the globally growing popularity of bite-sized videos. And just like on TikTok, syncing the right sound to your Reel is crucial. You could almost say that half of the Reels experience is in the audio.
When creating a Reels ad, use music, a trending audio clip (make sure it’s not copyrighted, though!) or create your own fun voiceover.
It’s also a good idea to create ad variants with different audio to match the audience’s language if you’re targeting multiple geographies.
Oh, and don’t forget to add legible subtitles. Yes, Reels is an audio-powered experience, but some of your viewers might browse content with the sound off, and some might have hearing impairments. Including captions to your Reels ads ensures everyone can engage with your content.
With Reels ads, you get a maximum of 30 seconds to drive your message home. If your content’s scope is broad, you’ll end up with an unclear and unengaging ad that drives no action.
So, define a singular focus for each of your Instagram Reels ads. No matter what you’re promoting, handpick the best bits for the final ad creative.
Moreover, Instagram Reels ads are an ideal channel to highlight your brand’s fun and creative side. Of course, your ultimate goal is to generate clicks and sales, but be sure to share fun, relatable content to drive more engagement. If your content is too ‘salesy,’ viewers won’t think twice before swiping to the next Reel.
Finally, set the right campaign frequency to avoid ad fatigue. Because if your audience sees your ads too often, they’ll stop paying attention to them and lose interest in your brand, which means wasted ad spend.
Short-form videos tend to attract a younger audience of Millennials and Gen Z. So, if that’s a segment you wish to reach and engage with more, adding Reels ads to your Instagram advertising strategy makes sense.
And if you wish to couple this with long-form, in-depth content to really showcase your expertise, you can opt for IGTV.
Find the right balance and start using Reels today to make the best of your Instagram advertising!