The Modern Day Commercial: Facebook & Instagram Stories Ads

For Lawyers, Doctors, and Dentists

The Facebook and Instagram Feed once satisfied the hunger for social media that millions of users craved. Now, users have worked up a different appetite: for Stories. With a steady increase in usage over the years, it is safe to say that Stories are the future of social media marketing and advertising.

As user behavior changes on social media platforms, advertisers need to adapt to these changes in order to effectively deliver their marketing message to desired customers.

The Story Behind Stories

smartphone user taking picture of bookThe concept of stories first hit the market in September 2011 with the launch of Snapchat. Facebook hopped on the bandwagon in 2016, introducing Stories to Facebook and then to Instagram. Although Snapchat usage has decreased due to formatting issues with the app, Facebook and Instagram are still seeing a high volume of users participating in Stories – and project that usage will grow rapidly over the next few years.

Ad Age gave further insight into Stories usage, stating that, “There are one billion stories created across [the] family of apps everyday, with 400 million people viewing them on Instagram, 450 million on WhatsApp and 300 million on Facebook and Messenger combined.”

Tell Me (about) Stories

For those of you who are not familiar with Stories, they are essentially posts made by users that disappear after 24 hours. Stories can be found at the top of your Facebook or Instagram newsfeed. The content published in Stories is intended to be exciting, thematic and published in real-time.

Designed for mobile viewing, the format of Stories differs from feeds, with vertical placement of photos and videos being the standard. Viewers are exposed to 5-second ads between stories that are positioned like commercials, where the user has the option to click or swipe out of the ad.

Advertising with Stories

Facebook Stories feed - screenshotFrom an advertiser’s perspective, Stories offer another placement option to display ads on Facebook and Instagram. Ad space is growing scarce on feeds, with increased ads vying for real estate amid declining user activity. As such, the Cost Per Result for ads placed in the newsfeed is much higher than other placement options, such as Stories, that have less competition for ad space.

Placement settings for ads essentially optimize ad reach, engagement, clicks, or conversions based on platform usage. As usage on a platform increases, the audience network (a placement setting for ads in Business Manager) will deliver ads on the platform to more users at a lesser cost. So, placing ads for Stories on both Facebook and Instagram is desirable because of the greater opportunity to increase reach for a lesser cost, especially with usage on the rise.

Advertisers who are early-adopters to customizing ads for Stories can gain a competitive advantage in their ad space by utilizing best practices for Stories placement. Aside from creating vertical video, ads can be formatted with specific dimensions to appear properly in the Stories interface.

Creating Ads for Stories

Ads on Facebook Stories appear between Facebook user Stories and are visible for 5 seconds or until the user swipes out of the story. According to Facebook, these are the optimal dimensions for ads on Facebook Stories:

  • Minimum Image Width in Pixels: 500
  • Minimum Image Height in Pixels: 500
  • Aspect Ratio Tolerance: 1%
  • Minimum Image Ratio: 9:16
  • Maximum Image Ratio: 1.91:1

Instagram Story ads have the same commercial ad concept as Facebook Stories ads, formatted vertically and appearing for 5 seconds between Instagram user stories. These are the optimal dimensions for ad placement on the Instagram Story platform:

  • Minimum Image Width in Pixels: 500
  • Aspect Ratio Tolerance: 1%
  • Lower Minimum Width in Pixels: 500
  • Maximum Image Ratio: 9:16
  • Maximum Video Duration in Seconds for carousel videos: 15

Video makes up the majority of Stories posted by users, and keeps them more engaged than static images. For this reason, vertical video ads perform better than static image ads delivered to users watching Stories. This is because video ads help to maintain the flow of consciousness of the user and keep them engaged with the stimulating effects of motion, sound and text.

screenshot - creating Facebook Stories adThink about Stories ads like commercials. If a viewer is watching TV and advertisement in the form of a static image was aired on the screen for 5 seconds, the viewer would most likely change the channel. Whereas, if the viewer was exposed to a video ad like they are used to seeing, they would be more likely to engage with it. So, to maintain the flow of consciousness of the user, vertical ads should be used in place of static images to avoid the sensation of interruption.

In terms of branding, Stories give advertisers the unique opportunity to theme their ads by selecting custom background colors. The background colors that display on Stories ads are automatically generated by Facebook according to the colors in the ad, and can easily be changed in Business Manager. Simply check off the box labeled “Edit Stories background colors” under the text description of your ad, then select a color.

The Moral of the Story

Checking off boxes and adjusting dimensions are only the tip of the iceberg with Facebook and Instagram ads. What it really comes down to is that there is only so much ad space on social media. As more businesses adapt to social media marketing, ad space will become increasingly scarce. So, it is vital that advertisers keep current with the latest trends in the social media marketplace and evolve their marketing strategy to integrate new-age marketing tactics.

Be an early-adopter and take advantage of Stories ads by selecting the Stories platforms for your ads, customizing the background colors of your ads in Stories, creating vertical video ads and uploading creatives that abide by the dimension guidelines. For more information on Stories ads and how they can benefit your practice, contact Page 1 Solutions at (303) 233-3886.

Sloane, Garett. “Selling Ephemera: What Facebook’s big bet means for Snap”. Ad Age. November 5, 2018. Page 5. Print.