Sponsored Instagram Stories
October 2018

By Alex Jeater


Since Instagram launched its 15-second Stories feature back in 2016, users of the Facebook-owned photo-sharing App have flocked to upload pictures and videos of their cats, #smashedavo pictures and coffee art, over-laid with brightly coloured, “witty” text, stickers and emojis. As such, Stories are forecast to overtake news feed as the leading Instagram placement for sharing, potentially as early as 2019.

However, advertisers have been slightly slow to catch on to the use of Stories for sponsored Ads. We have a few hypotheses on why brands have been slow on the uptake.

Firstly, as users scroll through Stories, it’s super easy to skip any sponsored posts before 3 seconds – the standard point at which Instagram records an engagement. Secondly, as users scroll they often don’t want to “swipe up” or “learn more” and be directed to the advertisers page – as this interrupts their flow (also, if you don’t have 4G, or like us you are on the Three network, the website typically takes an age to load). Finally, the different optimal video size resolution for Stories versus news feed means that for smaller businesses especially, it does take a bit of extra effort to get right.

A recent study by AdEspresso found that regular Instagram Feed Ads outperformed Stories in terms of cost per conversion. However, the study also found that the cost per click was marginally better for Stories versus Feed Ads, which kind-of disproves our theory that users don’t want to swipe up.

For recent client campaigns we have dedicated around 10% to 20% of overall spend to Stories, and have seen some really good results, especially for engagement. As such, we concur with AdEspresso’s recommendation to reserve at least 5% to testing Stories. We have also come to view Stories primarily as being a really effective brand awareness placement, rather than a conversion tool, as its often difficult to convey enough information in 15 seconds to convert customers.

The key game-changer for sponsored Stories will be when Instagram introduces un-skippable Stories, which will potentially drive up the click through rate, or really annoy users, or both.


In the meantime, if you want to give sponsored, or even organic Stories a try and are not sure how to approach them, feel free to get in contact – we are more than happy to help create a plan or manage your campaign (and don’t worry, we will stay away from coffee art).

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