How Much Do Instagram Ads Cost in 2021? (+ How to Make the Most of Your Budget)

While Facebook and Instagram advertising work using the same Ads Manager, their respective advertising costs vary. With Facebook being around longer, having more data, and more ad placements compared to its younger adopted sibling platform, we do find that more often than not, Instagram is slightly more expensive than Facebook in some instances. While that is the case, don’t let it deter you from exploring this lucrative and effective visual counterpart in the Facebook ecosystem. With fewer ad placements, increased competition for impression share, you may pay slightly more to use Instagram, but you may also pleasantly see it being much more cost effective than the results you’re getting with Facebook.

Image via Pexels

Paid advertising is a powerful marketing tool on Instagram and complements what brands are able to do in their Feeds, Stories, and Explore tabs. While Reels and IGTV don’t yet have ad placements, we may very well see them added as placement as the platform continues to scale and the need for more impressions comes about. Like Facebook ads, Instagram ads offer advanced targeting and flexibility so as to be accessible for just about any business. If this visual platform is a popular channel for your target audience, you may want to advertise on Instagram. To help you understand the cost, we’re going to cover:

  • How Instagram ads work
  • What makes Instagram advertising worth the price
  • Factors that influence Instagram ad pricing
  • Average rates of Instagram ads
  • Ways to get the most out of your Instagram ad budget

Read on to learn about the workings, advantages, and cost of advertising on Instagram this year.

How do Instagram ads work?

Depending on your campaign objective, ads appearing on Instagram can have up to 18 call-to-action button options, can link to your website, and give users options to download applications or shop online stores.

You don’t actually even need an Instagram account to advertise on Instagram. Since Facebook is its parent company, all you need a Facebook Business Page. However, it is best to have an Instagram account so you can familiarize yourself with content that resonates best with your target audience and complement and amplify your organic Instagram marketing efforts.

To set up Instagram Ads, use Facebook’s Ads Manager to set up campaigns, ad sets where you select your budget, target audience, ad placements, and optimization options. Similarly to Facebook Ads, your ads will run within the selected time frame, budget parameters, audience selection, and optimization goals.

What makes Instagram advertising worth the price?

Advertising on social media brings many benefits, and there are some particular benefits of paying for ad impressions on Instagram rather than simply running campaigns and promotions directly from your business’s account.

Advanced targeting

With over 1 billion monthly users, Instagram ranks second after Facebook. These platforms have an incredibly robust arsenal of targeting data and since Facebook owns Instagram, Instagram advertising utilizes the same comprehensive demographic and geographic data. This advanced targeting is what makes Facebook Ads work so well, as you can be incredibly prescriptive when targeting various audiences. Whether you are utilizing Facebook’s native audiences based on interests, behaviors, or other demographics, or utilizing your own custom audiences that utilize your Pixel or SDK, email lists, or other sources, you can find success in reaching the right people in your prospecting and retargeting campaigns.

Higher engagement rates

Instagram is known for its high engagement rates—organically and through paid ads. Images on Instagram receive an average of 23% more engagement than when shared on Facebook. When it comes to organic engagement, brands on Instagram say that they have about 4% of their followers seeing their content compared to the nearly non-existent organic reach that Facebook has today. While it’s better, it’s still wise to pay to play in order to expand your reach and visibility with paid ads.  While any form of visual content can perform well, brands typically see more engagement on video ads—about 38% more. As a visual platform, images and videos are powerful in driving more engagement than on other more text-based social platforms.

External links

Instagram does not currently allow clickable links in organic posts. You can include a link in your caption or message, but the recipient has to copy and paste it into their browser or visit the link in your Instagram bio. With Instagram advertising, you can include outside links, which enables you to designate a destination URL to your website or another external URL. To be able to better track website traffic from your Instagram Ads, it’s recommended to use your own domain as you should have your Pixel implemented there, whereas you may not have it on other website URLs that you don’t control.

Longer videos

Instagram Feed and Explore video can be up to 60 seconds in duration and while Stories are typically up to 15 seconds in duration, if you run ads in these three ad placements, you can have up to 2 minutes of video content. This gives you more opportunity to convey both your brand and the features and benefits of your offer through your products and/or services.

How much do Instagram ads cost?

When it comes to Instagram ads where we have a destination URL, we’ve been seeing link click cost per click (CPC) range from $0.50 – $0.95. When it comes to CPC (All) metrics, we see those a bit lower, ranging from $0.40-$0.70. This CPC (All) metrics takes into account all clicks that happen on an ad, which includes not only link clicks, but likes/reactions, comments, and shares. In terms of CPM (Cost per 1,000 impressions), Instagram costs since January 1, 2021 have been ranging between $2.50-3.50 for better performing campaigns and their respective ad sets. When it comes to engagement costs, we’re seeing $0.01-0.05.

When it comes to CPMs, our findings show that Facebook tends to be higher than Instagram, by nearly 2x but CPCs tend to be lower by nearly half on Facebook compared to Instagram.

Image via AdEspresso

Factors that influence Instagram ad pricing

Similar to other platforms, Instagram ad pricing is influenced by a number of variables. Campaign objectives can cause your advertising costs to be automatically higher or lower, depending on which you choose and how it relates to where your target audience is in the funnel. For example, if you select a brand awareness campaign objective, it will be lower in cost than something lower down the funnel and that has a higher value objective, such as conversions. Having broader, colder audiences seeing your ad to help drive more brand awareness is a lower value action compared to someone being further down funnel, more familiar with your brand and offerings, and ready to open their wallet or take a higher value action in a retargeting oriented conversion campaign that may be optimizing for purchases.

Other variables that play a part in determining ad pricing is audience size. If you are targeting broader audiences, they are typically lower in cost as there is less competition for a group of people. As you narrow your audiences, perhaps by reducing their geotargeting or age ranges, you may see the price go up as competition for those eyeballs increases in parallel. Retargeting audiences are typically smaller as well, hence why we often see higher costs in retargeting campaigns.

Budget also influences pricing because if you have a small budget, it may take longer to get out of the Learning Phase if your campaign or ad set is starting anew. Costs may be more expensive at first before the system learns and understands how your campaign type, optimization goals, and how your audience engages with your ads. If your ads are well engaged with, Facebook and Instagram will reward you with lower costs over time.

Click-Thru-Rate (CTR) can also play a role in your pricing. If CTR is low, then we may see higher costs as the system thinks there may be some disconnect between your target audience and what you’re messaging in your ads. You want your ads to resonate with your target audience and CTR Is a strong indicator of that. Aim for a healthy CTR which is about 2%. If you have a healthy CTR, you should see your costs decrease.

How to save money with your Instagram aads

Make the most of your budget by selecting funnel-appropriate campaign objectives to start. If you are targeting colder, broader, prospecting audiences, test less expensive campaigns to introduce your brand to audiences with an awareness, engagement, or better yet, a website traffic campaign so that these users leave Instagram and get to your website and tagged with the Pixel so you can later retarget them if they don’t convert on that first click. If you’re new to Instagram Ads, you can drive sales from the first interaction and click, but more often than not, users will need to have several interactions with your brands in order to develop trust, perhaps do some shopping and comparing, and then come back to you through retargeting or other means to open up their wallets. If you have a low cost product that doesn’t need much research, impulse buys can be successful from Instagram.

Another way to lower your Instagram costs is to use automatic placements in the ad set level and serve across both Facebook and Instagram. By having more placement liquidity, the system can use its algorithm to determine where to best serve your ads, thus giving them more options across both platforms and more ad placements, thus, lowering competition on Instagram’s three current ad placements, thus lowering your costs.

You will also want to test audiences with different ad variations by testing the different lines of ad copy and creatives – images and videos. By running tests, you can learn what resonates with your audiences and it can help improve your engagement rates and CTR, thus, also helping lower your costs and making your budget go further.

Leverage Instagram ads in 2021

Instagram continues to grow and the advertising options only become more robust. It’s not yet saturated and it’s safe to assume that more ad placements will come our way, hopefully this year, so that our budgets can go further and find success for our brands and our for our clients. Give Instagram Ads a test and see how it fairs in comparison to Facebook Ads and other advertising platforms you may be running on. It may end up being an important part of your funnel by driving more brand awareness and engagement or it may end up bringing a primary source of revenue.


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