Instagram Story ads now sold globally as standalone placements through Facebook’s self-serve tools

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Two months after Instagram began slotting ads between people’s Stories, the Facebook-owned photo-and-video app has started selling the ad placement to any advertiser around the world through Facebook’s self-serve ad-buying tools as well as Facebook’s advertising API, the company announced on Wednesday.

As a result advertisers can now pick up real estate within Instagram’s Stories feed the same way they do for Instagram’s main feed or Facebook’s news feed, with all the same targeting options. But there are some limitations.

First, advertisers can only buy Instagram Story ads using Facebook’s reach objective, which tells Facebook to aim the ad at as many people as possible. As a result advertisers are charged based on the number of impressions the ad receives; in the case of Instagram Story ads, that means as soon as the full-screen ad appeared on screen. And since Instagram Story ads take up the entire phone screen and resemble the vertical organic Stories, they must also be vertically formatted with a 9:16 aspect ratio. And finally the ads can be photos or videos, though videos will be limited to 15 seconds long.

On the flip side, advertisers do have some freedom when buying Instagram Story ads. Unlike Facebook’s Audience Network ad network — which is only available if a brand is also buying ads to run on Facebook proper — advertisers are not forced to buy Instagram Story inventory in a bundle with any other inventory, be it on Facebook, Instagram or elsewhere. If an advertiser wants its ad to only run within Instagram’s Stories feed but not the Instagram main feed or in Facebook’s news feed, it can.

About The Author

Tim Peterson, Third Door Media’s Social Media Reporter, has been covering the digital marketing industry since 2011. He has reported for Advertising Age, Adweek and Direct Marketing News. A born-and-raised Angeleno who graduated from New York University, he currently lives in Los Angeles. He has broken stories on Snapchat’s ad plans, Hulu founding CEO Jason Kilar’s attempt to take on YouTube and the assemblage of Amazon’s ad-tech stack; analyzed YouTube’s programming strategy, Facebook’s ad-tech ambitions and ad blocking’s rise; and documented digital video’s biggest annual event VidCon, BuzzFeed’s branded video production process and Snapchat Discover’s ad load six months after launch. He has also developed tools to monitor brands’ early adoption of live-streaming apps, compare Yahoo’s and Google’s search designs and examine the NFL’s YouTube and Facebook video strategies.


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