Instagram Ads for Games: The Ultimate 5-Step Guide

by Game Marketing Genie, on 09-Aug-2022 10:02:55

According to a survey by Meta, 87% of customers followed a call-to-action (CTA) after seeing an ad on Instagram. Instagram ads are one of the most efficient ways to increase your game download rate and get a higher return on investment. And they're part of our core paid services at Game Marketing Genie. These paid ads appear as usual Instagram posts, except they have a "sponsored" label and CTA buttons or links. And they often appear on Stories, feed, and the Explore page.

In this blog, we're diving deep into why IG ads should be an indispensable part of your social media marketing plan and how to create effective IG ads.

instagram ads

Figure 1: Instagram ads. Source: Forbes

Why Instagram Ads?

First, check out the IG ads' buzz and how they benefit your game. 

Brand awareness

After analyzing 700 ad campaigns, Instagram deduced that 98% of these campaigns saw a significant increase in their brand recall — all thanks to Instagram paid advertising. IG helps you streamline your ad campaigns by offering specific objectives, including brand awareness. Carefully choose your campaign's goal and target audience, and your ad will reach your potential customers.

Strong targeting

One of the best features of Instagram ads is its razor-sharp targeting. You can be extremely specific about who you want to show your ads to. This way, your ads reach a relevant audience for whom your game is designed. You can choose certain countries, regions, postcodes, or even exclude locations. You can also target people based on their education, lifestyle details, and employment.

Visual style

Choose specific visual styles for your Instagram ads. You can place photo ads, video ads, carousel ads, and more. We'll discuss these formats later in this blog. Remember only to select the format that your audience is most likely to respond to.

The audience is already to shop

IG ads work because the audience these ads are displayed to wants to buy your game already. They are ready to invest, provided your ad is enticing enough. Remember, you are targeting people for whom your ad is highly relevant. You don't have to convince them to buy your product — they want to buy it already. 

Step 1: Choose the ad type

First off, determine the type of ad you'd create. For this, analyze what your audience responded well to in the past. Evaluate the kind of ads your competitors are leveraging and monitor the response to those ads. Since you have a similar target audience as your competitor, you're highly likely to succeed in doing what they've done.

You can choose from the following ad types:

Image ads

 image ad

Figure 2: Game Double Down Casino promoted through IG paid advertising. Source: Apptamin

Image ads are the most popular ads brands use. They're even widely used on Facebook. Image Instagram ads comprise a single picture, ad copy, and a CTA button. The image size varies depending on the size of your uploaded photo. Moreover, you don't necessarily have to create new content for a photo ad; you can easily convert your already-uploaded posts into ads. The key to success is that the ad should be extraordinarily captivating and scroll-stopping!

Video ads

Video ads are a fantastic option specifically to promote on gaming social media. These minute-long, engaging ads help you showcase the universe and characters of your entertaining video game. You can boost your brand's recognizability by placing your logo right at the beginning of the ad. However, remember to keep these videos to the point, as the watch time on these ads is pretty low.

Carousel ads

Carousel ads are similar to photo ads but allow you to upload up to 10 images per ad. These ads are beneficial if you want to show certain in-game items and characters of your game. People recognize carousel ads through the small dots underneath the images, signaling there are more images to see. Uploading the right photos will also help you narrate a 10-image long story.

Collection ads

collection ads

Figure 3: Collection ads example. Source:

Recognizing shopping brands often use Collection ads and enable users to shop through the Instagram Instant Experience storefront without leaving their Instagram feed. Collection ads usually comprise a cover image or video followed by 3 product images. When users click on the ad, they are directed to the Instant Experience storefront, a full-screen landing page.

Explore ads

Explore ads appear in the Explore feed when users click on a photo or video on the Explore page. These ads are similar to the video and image ads but appear on the Explore feed. Explore ads allow brands to be a part of the trending content on IG and reach a wider audience.

Story ads

Figure 4: Developer Huuuge Games utilizing story ads. Source: Instagram

As the name implies, Story ads appear in the IG Stories and are tagged as "sponsored." They are wildly famous for their extended reach, as approximately 500 million IG users view Stories daily (source: Search Engine Journal). Brands often leverage the in-built IG filters, text, and GIFs in these ads to boost engagement and appeal. These ads also have a swipe-up feature at the bottom that leads customers to a website or landing page, as per the ad's CTA. Mobile game developer Huuuge Games rightly leveraged story ads to increase their visibility.

Step 2: Choose the campaign objective

The most popular way to utilize Instagram ads is through Facebook Ads Manager — Facebook owns Instagram, after all.

To start, go to Ads Manager and click "Create." Subsequently, choose one of the following campaign objectives:

campaign objectives

Figure 5: Campaign objectives on FB Ads Manager. Source: Hootsuite

  • App installs: This goal is for gaming studios willing to increase their games' download rate. 
  • Engagement: Choose this goal if you're dealing with a low engagement rate on social media. It'll help increase your likes, comments, shares, and responses to your paid ad.
  • Video views: As the term implies, this goal increases your views from users who are most likely to watch your videos.
  • Lead generation: Use this objective if your campaign is devised to gather personal information from your potential customers. This information will help you retain current customers and constantly convince prospects to download your game.
  • Messages: Encourage customers to send you a message and create a stronger bond using this campaign goal. 
  • Conversions: This campaign aims to drive more sales and generate a higher return on investment. 
  • Catalog sales: This goal can promote sales from your online store catalog. 
  • Store traffic: This campaign goal increases the footfall of a business' brick-and-mortar store.

Step 3: Start creating your ad

Begin with creating a gaming Instagram Business page like ours. Link this page to Facebook Ads Manager. Subsequently, select one of the above campaign objectives per your business goals.

To further set up your campaign:

Choose your target audience

Not all video games have a similar audience — some are designed for kids, adults, males, and females. Target IG users who are most likely to play your game. You will succeed only when the right audience knows your game exists.

Select "Create a New Audience" in Ads Manager or use the "Saved Audience" option. The second option is helpful if you want to reach past audiences from previous campaigns. If you're creating an IG ad campaign for the first time, create a new audience based on demographics.

Choose your budget

This section deals with how much you are willing to spend on your ad campaign and how long the campaign will run. You have two options:

  • Daily budget: Choose this to et a maximum daily spend if you're running an always-on ad.
  • Lifetime budget: Choose this to set a maximum budget for the entire campaign if the latter has a precise end date.

Upload your content

As per the format you've decided, upload the ad's content — images, videos, etc. Subsequently, determine your ad's placement. Manual placements help you choose a specific place for your ads — where they'll appear and where they won't. You can limit the ads to Instagram or make them appear on various social platforms. If you don't choose manual placements, Ads Manager will automatically place your ads on platforms they're more likely to perform the best on.

Step 4: An alternative advertising approach

ig post ad

Figure 6: You can promote an existing IG post, too. Source: Hootsuite

If you want to take the simple route, create an ad out of your existing Instagram posts. This is an excellent approach for beginners. Choose your best-performing post and promote it within the IG app to increase your visibility amongst the newer audiences who don't follow you yet.

Remember, though, that this option is available for IG business or creator accounts. Additionally, you'll have to link your IG account to your FB Business Page to leverage this method. If you meet both requirements, click the "Promote" on the post you want to turn into an ad. Then, choose your target audience, budget, and campaign duration. Tap "Create Promotion," and you're done!

Step 5: Follow this go-to best practice list!

  • Keep the ad creative, simple, and sweet. Remember, the human attention span has shrunk to 8 seconds. You only have a few seconds to grab your prospective customers' eyeballs. So, keep your ad innovative and straightforward.
  • Ensure your ad is mobile-friendly. Hootsuite shows that 98% of users access social media via their smartphones. So, making your ad mobile-friendly is crucial. To that end, keep videos vertical, the amount of text minimal, and add motion graphics for a higher impact.
  • Add captivating audio to your ads, but don't rely solely on audio. Optimize your ad for silent viewing since 92% of consumers keep their sound off (source: Verizon & Publicis). Use visual elements to tell your story and add captions. 
  • Ensure your ad is soft and inoffensive. 
  • Don't forget to monitor the results. Track your metrics, such as the follower growth, reach, engagement level, conversion rate, sales, and UTM traffic before, after, and during the campaign. This will help you determine if the campaign was a success.

Paid advertising for game devs

Organic marketing is great, but it won’t take you all the way to game marketing success! Don’t be afraid to invest in paid advertising, as it can help you generate the reach and engagement you need. Still not convinced? Check out The Complete Paid Marketing Guide for Video Games!

Hire an Instagram paid ads expert!

Instagram ads may not be as easy to create and promote as they may seem. You need special skills to master nuanced audience understanding to create an effective ad campaign. But since developers are way too occupied with creating an engaging and glitch-free game, they may not have ample time, resources, and knowledge to set up incredible campaigns. Therefore, hiring a paid ad expert makes sense!

We at Game Marketing Genie can help you set up and monitor outstanding Instagram ad campaigns that skyrocket your download rate. We're a full-service game marketing agency creating personalized game marketing strategies to help you scale your business. Let us handle your paid ads and watch your ROI increase! 

Get in touch with us today for more information.

Topics:Social Media MarketingVideo Game Marketing StrategyVideo Game MarketingDigital Marketing StrategyInstagram MarketingPaid Advertising

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