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How to Boost Instagram Feed Video Ads for App Install Campaigns

Updated: Jun 6, 2023

With Instagram ads around, Facebook has offered advertisers an amazing platform. And you can just get started using Facebook Ads Manager!

Take a quick look at why you should seriously consider Instagram advertising and the different ad formats that are available.


  • Instagram has always been a 'mobile-first' platform for installing ads, making it perfect.

  • A growing user base with more than 700 million active monthly users, and currently, above 1 million businesses.

  • Advertisers are using Instagram's Power Editor (or Ads Manager) tool as Facebook, making it simpler to try ads on both but also reuse ads that worked well on the other platform.

  • Instagram is a visual-focused platform which makes it the ideal spot for visual ads. Attention is easily drawn because a video can autoplay.

  • 85 percent of Instagram's audience as of April 18 (source: Statista) is under the age of 35.

  • With more than 250 million users, Instagram Stories (copying from Snapchat stories) has already passed Snapchat in the daily user count.


The Instagram photo and video advertisements are very similar to a regular app post. Here are the various formats:

  • Instagram photo ad-still images, such as what most users see in their feed

  • Instagram video ad-helps you to view your advertisement in practice. 1 in 4 ads is a video on Instagram.

  • Instagram carousel ad – similar to Facebook, carousel ads allow you to include multiple photos or videos in one ad (users swipe to see the first creative afterward). Since we're talking about video ads in this post, we won't get too much into carousel ads but it's also an interesting format.

  • Instagram stories ad – initially inspired by Snapchat stories; of course the incredible growth of Instagram stories led to a new Instagram ad format. These vertical video ads need to be thought out for the Stories format, and much closer to what looks like Snapchat ads than current feed video ads for Instagram.

Both mobile app update ads and mobile app activation ads are available for Instagram to retarget to bring people back to your device if they already have it.

App download ads accounted for 26 percent of all Instagram ad impressions in Q2 2016 and were mainly used for Instagram mobile ads, shopping, and entertainment app advertisements.


It's important to have a good understanding of how Instagram video advertisements are presented in a user's feed to better understand the bits of advice we offer in this section and make it easier to follow them.

When a user expresses interest (watches for a few seconds), the full width of the call to action below your creative video changes to blue (as in the above picture). They 're brought to your app store when people tap it.


If you have been advertising on Facebook and have video advertisements that work well, this is a good starting point as described above. Bear in mind also some of Instagram's specifications to customize the advertising.

Not all of the examples below follow optimum practices, but you'll be able to get a better understanding of how to do things correctly with all of them added up. And the good news is: You can do much better than many currently displayed Instagram video ads (contact us if you want our help!).

As always, the best practice: test, test, test. Check out this article to learn the best methods to use Facebook Ad Manager to test and optimize your Instagram ads.

Use the optimal ratios for your Instagram video ads (hint: square or vertical 4:5)

Initially, Instagram video clips were limited to a 1:1 ratio of 15 seconds (640 x 640 – square videos). Now ads can last up to 60 seconds and have a ratio from landscape 1.91:1 to portrait 4:5.

Does that mean you should only re-use a current TV advertisement ad or other marketing efforts?

Not so quick.

Those are Facebook's concept guidelines, but they still take no risks.

Because a square video ad or even a vertical 4:5 video takes much more screen real estate in a user's feed than a landscape ad, it can be assumed that they are less likely to be scrolled through (if they are eye-catching!). By the way, the same applies to Facebook video advertising (which simplifies life). But the square style on Instagram, being the original one, has much more meaning.

A lot of advertisers tend to like the vertical 2:3 style on Facebook, but this is not easy to use on Instagram. So, 4:5 is the most common "portrait" style on both platforms.

Taking these different ratios into account early on is crucial, like the way you build your Instagram video ad may differ. For example, for live-action video, if the end video is landscape or portrait, you want to plan the same shots. Or if they both have to work for it. Same thing with the design of the motion graphics: the elements on the screen will not be displayed the same way.

Leverage Facebook’s Creative Hub

Facebook has launched a genuinely valuable platform named Facebook Creativity Center, along with tools such as the video criteria map that we referred to above.

You can create a mockup with your ad creative (image, video, carousel, etc.) with Facebook Creative Hub and then see how it looks on any Facebook platform (including, of course, Instagram). What's cooler than looking at Advertising Manager is that you can upload your Instagram video ad mockup to your Facebook app and check how it's viewed on every device, just as if it were live.

Be creative/mindful of quality

Instagram built on being an innovative outlet to expand on its popularity. But it goes without mentioning (yet mentioning it – in case only) that you don't want your Instagram ad to be an eye-catcher.

Your Instagram video ad should catch your eyes and stand out but fit nicely in somebody's feed. You don't want it to annoy people and just hide it. You’d much rather they tap the like button. And keep away from pictures and videos of fake stocks.

Instagram initially announced that they would review each ad but this was not the case (although we haven't seen this type of ad in a while).

It's interesting to note that people can comment on Instagram ads (as they do on Facebook) like on any other posts. Which could cause some backlash, or not? So be mindful of the promises you are making.

You'll also notice at the bottom of the comments that the call to action is repeated, making it easy to get people to the App Store.

Show your brand, but not too much

In keeping with the above, you don't want your branding to be too "in your face." Of course, it can be present, but we recommend that you find a "smooth" way of displaying it. For example, it can be the logo inside your app or game. Especially since it is on your Instagram handle already.

Favor a logo in the corner to a full-page logo if you decide to show it somewhere else than the very end or through your App UI.

Evite an intro with just your logo, as it's already in your Instagram handle and you could lose a chance to catch the viewer's eye with a strong start.

Make the first 3 seconds count

Your video ad on Instagram shouldn't be too salesy, but that doesn't mean it shouldn't catch attention and hook the viewer. It is, after all, an ad!

The first 3 seconds of your video are critical because of autoplay so pay special attention to it. You want color, context or complex cuts to alter.

A big difference between streaming advertising (such as app update advertisements) and TV commercials is that you want to "flash the plot arc in front": you can't leave viewers waiting for 10 or 15s to grasp where you are taking them.

Having an overlay text or a text screen appear during those first 3 seconds is also a best practice (see further below).

The importance of background sounds/music

Instagram video ads autoplay, but until the viewer taps the ad or the unmute button the sound will not be on. Unless they have unmuted a video in their feed since the app opened, in which case all subsequent videos are playing with the sound on.

But still, this means that without sound, people should be able to understand clearly the narrative and the value proposition of your app.

Just don't rely on a voice over. Use bold visual storytelling instead, and easily readable text overlay.

Let's take a look at how Google did that for its Google Duo ad.

Here's the video from the start:

And this is the Instagram video Ad:

We love the last bit of dialog (made us watch again-poor sock), but not hearing it does not prevent the video from being understood.

Optimize for mobile viewers

Instagram app installation ads are viewed only by ... mobile viewers. Amazement.

Subtitles are a start when inserting text captions/overlay texts but prefer simple, bigger, more succinct texts that highlight the key points. You ought to make sure everyone can understand it.

The same goes with the graphics, gaming or device displays that you are viewing.

And make sure you 're not just watching your artistic (and thumbnail) video on a big laptop computer. That’s when Facebook’s Creative Hub comes in handy!

Keep it short

You 're allowed an Instagram 60s ad, but this doesn't mean it's the best length. People have a short span of attention and you should keep that short in most cases.

We advise from 15s to 25s. And again, in the first seconds, do not hesitate to hook up the viewers (see case above).

If you have a specific story that you would like to tell, and it takes more time, then do it. And could even check a shorter edition of it.

Show the game-play or the user experience

Do not forget it's an install ad for a mobile app.

So even if you have some storytelling and don't only show the app, at least some screens will be displayed.

You want potential users to know what they are getting into, especially if you don't have an app or game that is very well known. You 're not only raising the right goals, you 're also attracting new customers already comfortable with your product and potentially getting higher retention.

Include some of your game assets (characters, etc.) in your video also for Instagram game ads.

End your video ad creative with a strong Call-To-Action (CTA)

It's nice you've created a cool video, but don't forget to make it clear to viewers that you want them to download their app (or do something else-see below). You wish to receive a direct response to your Instagram ad.

It can be a call to action in the voice over but to make it very explicit, it should also be an overlay text.

Hold it easy, only 4-5 words in it. Make sure that this CTA matches your video, as well as the rest of your ad (caption and Instagram Call To Action below the video).

Let viewers know that their store provides the app. Since you can target per OS, different versions can be available: one for iOS, one for Android.


You have a choice between several CTA's when you create your Instagram ad:

Book Now

Contact us

Download here

Learn more

Buy Now


See More

Click Now

Play Game

Install Now (not in the specs of Instagram but out there)

For a mobile app install ad, "Download" or "Install Now" appear to be the default choice. But, based on the artistic video and the call to action that you have at the end of it, there might be one that fits for you better.

For example, a "Sign Up" CTA could work if you have a message about signing up today to get some form of reward, etc. Signing up can be a little overwhelming, though.


Your caption is text only, and propose a limit of 125 characters.

As we saw it is shown below your CTA. It should conform to your CTA, and give it more context. But don't make it sound too salesy or boring.

Since hashtags on Instagram are growing, make good use of these. It will help you achieve a larger audience.


Why does a video ad need a thumbnail? Especially when this is auto-play?

Well, when your ad is being served, you don't know if your users all have good connectivity to mobile data. Or if they have specific parameters in the app.

Sure better than sorry. So make sure you carefully pick your thumbnail, because it can be shown before the user clicks the "play button."

And then check out the video below. It might have been better produced but the idea works!

The thumbnail picture ratio will suit your video's ratio, so you don't want too much text in it (Facebook removed the 20% text prohibition, so if you can stop it, you don't need to get less exposure!).


Before we wrap it up, remember that these are recommendations. It doesn't mean you need to obey them exclusively or at all costs, as certain items will rely on the company, app, or audience.

Having had some good results with Instagram video ads, keep an open mind, and feel free to test different creatives. Whether you're producing your Instagram video ads in-house or making an Instagram app install ad with us, it's worth the extra cost and time it takes to create alternative versions. Other elements of your Instagram ad can also be experimented with.

And guess what, we've been working with some of the industry's top experts to provide you with a guide about the best ways to do creative optimization for Facebook and Instagram ads. Be sure to check it out!

These aspects have always helped companies, advertisers advertise their products in a creative way while acquiring a healthy, long lasting user base, clicks, CTAs and revenue. - Shreyas Guptha, Digital Marketing Executive, Cinemagic

One of the prime example of this can be observed when Cinemagic had conducted a campaign for Telly for promoting its hit series After The End. The uncanny timing of this whole pandemic closely resembled the storyline of the series.

Vertical Story and In Feed Ads were chosen for this campaign. Snippets of compelling moments from various episodes of the series were taken as eye catching as they were, they delivered the message behind the campaign as well deeming the campaign as a success by bringing in new traffic for the client.

The total number of people reached out by conducting this campaign were equivalent to 150,000, demographically constituting of mainly the age group 25-34 years.

Creating an enticing ad wasn't rocket science, although the timing chosen to promote was adversely correlated to the success of the campaign. - Mohammed Hussnain, Advertising Development Officer, Cinemagic


Social media has become so important for brands to look for consumers. Instagram is great because you can choose the target audience based on a lot of key factors. - Fahed AlGamal, Social Media Co-ordinator, Cinemagic

Instagram is a popular forum for advertisers, with app developers included. It is already becoming competitive, and it's also a platform where you can leverage your advertising to great targeting and scale.

Just keep in mind how they are displayed for your creative Instagram video ads, and:

Use square, and perhaps vertical (experiment) videos

Be creative and make the video polished

Allow count of first 3 seconds

Don't count on sound

Upgrade to mobile viewers

Don't overdo it.

Show off the user experience or the game-play

End your creative video ad with powerful CTA

To conclude, I would like to give image courtesy to Apptamin. At Cinemagic, we have the resources and a team which are proficient across platforms. Using our Advertising competence will empower you to open your advertising campaigns to a platform-agnostic audience. Click here to contact us so we can share with you the ability to reach your audience on the following platforms.

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