The moment social media marketers have been waiting for has arrived — Instagram has officially launched ads within its Reels platform, offering a new placement option to reach your target audience.
But, like with any new ads platform, you’ll need to set a business strategy before diving in with your Reels campaigns. In this blog, we’ll explain exactly what you need to know to get started, including:
- What a Reels Ad is, what it looks like, and where you can find it
- Why Reels Ads may be the best placement choice for eCommerce businesses
- And what the pros and cons are of using Reels Ads
Want more personalized guidance for your paid social campaigns? Get a free proposal now.
What Reels Ads Are & How They Work
If you spend a lot of time on IG, you’re probably already familiar with Reels. But, if you don’t, we’ll give you a quick rundown:
Prior to Instagram’s announcement last month, social media advertisers were limited to ad placement within Instagram Stories when using vertical video content. Not only was this placement expensive (more on that below), it didn’t mesh with the quick and trendy advertising emerging from today’s social media darling, TikTok.
Now, with Instagram Reel Ads, your ads can appear more native and be naturally shown where your customers spend their time: in the Reels tab.
Reels are full-screen vertical videos — designed for mobile and less than 30 seconds in length — that loop endlessly. Viewers can like, comment, view, save and share Reels, and the same options are available with Reels Ads.
Reels can be found in a few locations on Instagram:
- Reels tab
- Reels shared in Stories
- Reels in Explore
- And Reels in a user’s feed
Unlike Instagram stories, Reels have their own unique tab on a user’s feed. Stories can only be found in the highlight reel (or, for individual Reels, on a specific user’s profile).
As you can see below, a Reel does not show up natively or naturally in Instagram stories. Instead, it’s shared in the same way a feed post is, where the user has to click through to see the video in action. In the Reels tab, however, Reels play automatically, enticing a viewer to continue watching video after video.
With Reels Ads, your product ad will pop up natively between organic Reels — a much more natural fit than in Instagram stories.
Reel Ads: A Cheaper Way to Advertise on Instagram?
There’s several reasons why we’re excited about the rollout of Instagram’s Reels Ads, but cost is perhaps the biggest one.
We’ve been advertising on Instagram for our clients for years, but the cost of Instagram stories has historically impacted ROI — especially in comparison to automatic placement and other social advertising placements. With one client, cost-per-acquisition for other campaigns historically hovers around $9–$10, but Instagram story ads frequently surpass those numbers with more than $15 CPA. It’s a common theme for all of our paid social clients.
Fortunately, the average cost-per-click (CPC) of Instagram stories has been slowly dropping over the last few years.
With Instagram feed ads following the same trend, we’re optimistic that Reels Ads may offer a more affordable option for eCommerce businesses. That’s especially in comparison to advertising on TikTok, which reportedly crosses the $1 million line for a homepage takeover.
Bottom line: We believe Reels Ads should offer a cheaper advertising option that packs the same creative punch as competitors like TikTok Ads.
Pros and Cons of Using Instagram Reels Ads for Your Business
Now that you can promote Reels on Instagram, the question becomes: Should you?
It all boils down to how a few factors fit into your eCommerce digital marketing strategy:
Instagram Reels Ads offers a native placement for today’s trending creative. Short video is the king of today’s content. With Reels Ads, you no longer have to settle for awkward Instagram story placements — and can instead use the Reels placement to natively drop into customer’s browsing experience. Customers can also easily navigate to your site with “Shop Now” and other button overlays.
Reels Ads play well with TikTok content. If your brand already has a solid presence on TikTok (or just Reels itself), you’re ahead of the game with a stockpile of creative. Reels content can take a lot of time to create, but if you can mine from user-generated content for your paid social ads, you’ll be able to start advertising faster than competitors.
Reels Ads have the potential to be cheaper. The official verdict is still to come, but we anticipate Reels being a more affordable Instagram advertising option than placement in stories — with the potential for more customer interaction than feed ads.
A Reels Ads campaign requires its own creative. It’s easy to borrow creative from Facebook Ads and Instagram feed ads, but Reels Ads are a completely different beast. You’ll need to create unique campaign creative to run ads in this placement, which may or may not be worth the investment for your business.
Creative for Reels Ads takes time and money to make. Due to the fast-moving nature of vertical video stories, brands must be continually updating their creative and strategy to adhere to recent trends. And, unfortunately, that trendy creative requires an investment.
I recently created an Instagram Reel for our client Tactipup. Even though it’s only 30 seconds long, it took a few hours to put together (especially when you’re working with a dog!) As a more evergreen Reel, it was likely worth the effort — but, when it comes to more trendy creative, brands will have to decide if the investment makes sense (and, if so, who should take the time to produce the creative).
Find Out Whether Reels Ads are Right for You
Reels Ads may indeed be the future of advertising on Instagram. If it is indeed a cheaper and more effective placement than the feed or story, we anticipate many brands will start churning out creative to fit into their users’ browsing experience.
If you’re not sure that Instagram Reels Ads is right for your brand — or you’re not sure how to do it right — our paid social strategists are always happy to answer your questions and create a personalized strategy for your goals. Request a free proposal anytime to learn more.
In the meantime, we recommend trying your hand at Reels Ads to see what kind of results it could bring your business.