Facebook vs. Instagram Ads: Where Should You Advertise?

Facebook vs. Instagram Ads: Where Should You Advertise?

Social media advertising is nothing new. In fact, most businesses have at least a Facebook page these days, while many are already running ads across various networks. One of the questions we get asked a lot is: should I be running Facebook ads, Instagram ads, or both?

Benefits of Advertising on Instagram

In 2012, Facebook acquired Instagram for $1 billion. While the two still operate as separate social media platforms, they are connected in many ways, including that you can create Instagram ads through Facebook’s ad manager.


Facebook Ads have been around longer and there is a lot more data showing what works and what doesn’t work, so why should you even consider using Instagram ads? In the showdown between Facebook Ads vs. Instagram Ads, here are 3 main reasons to consider Instagram:

  1. It has 300 million daily active users
  2. Users are growing at a rate faster than ever before
  3. Many of your competitors probably aren’t advertising on it yet

Let’s dive into these 3 reasons you should could consider Instagram ads more in detail:

1. Social media as a whole isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, and Instagram is among the most popular channels.

While Facebook is still the biggest social media platform, with 1.13 billion daily active users, Instagram is catching up, with 300 million daily active users.

A September article and infographic from MediaKix notes that:

“The rapid growth of social media users and mainstream adoption of the world’s most popular social media apps and platforms by key demographics coupled with the steady decline of TV viewership throughout recent years has shifted both advertising budgets and brand strategy. Brands now need a viable way to reach millions of viewers who have forgone TV completely and spend copious amounts of time on social media instead. Each social media app, network, or platform channel has its idiosyncrasies complete with how users consume content, what type of content is best suited for each medium, and how many people are on social media.”


Embed This Infographic On Your Site:

<code class=”embed-code aligncenter”><a href=”https://www.verticalmeasures.com/ppc-advertising/facebook-vs-instagram-ads”><img title=”Facebook vs. Instagram: Daily & Monthly Active Users” src=”https://cdn.verticalmeasures.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/Facebook-Vs-Instagram-Ads-Monthly-and-Daily-Active-Users-1.jpg” alt=”Facebook vs. Instagram: Daily & Monthly Active Users” width=”640″ height=”906″><a href=”https://www.verticalmeasures.com/ppc-advertising/facebook-vs-instagram-ads”>Infographic</a> by<a href=”https://www.verticalmeasures.com”> Vertical Measures</a></code>

2. Instagram is growing, and it’s growing at a faster pace than ever before.

In June of this year, Instagram reached somewhat of a social media milestone when it hit 500 million users, 300 million of those who use the app on a daily basis. As TechCrunch points out, the last 100 million users were added since September 2015, which is faster than the previous 100 million users, meaning the app is growing faster than before.


3. Big name brands are feeling the heat from competitors that are more social media savvy.

Take for example this article from Bloomberg that correlates a drop in mattress giant Tempur Sealy’s stock with an influx of Instagram ads from “bed-in-a-box” start-ups. Tempur Sealy posted a “weak outlook” in September, according to Bloomberg. While other business factors could certainly be at play here, there’s no denying that there has been a greater number of creative social media ads for the company’s more Internet-friendly “bed-in-a-box” competitors.

This is a good lesson for any established brand not using social media – your customers are finding your competitors on social media through ads, so now might be a good time for you to start implementing a robust paid content promotion strategy.


Benefits of Advertising on Facebook

Facebook is definitely a big player when it comes to social media and social media advertising. According to the company, more than 900 million people are actively using Facebook on a daily basis.

What really sets Facebook apart are the myriad of targeting options and hacks you can use to reach your audience and successfully convert users into customers. Some of the more unique ad targeting options for Facebook include:

  1. Layering interests
  2. Video engagement
  3. Lookalike audiences
  4. Customer lists
  5. Lead nurturing

Want to learn more about these unique Facebook targeting options? Check out our recent post.

Should I Advertise on Facebook or Instagram?

The short answer to this question is – both! Since Instagram ad creation is part of the Facebook ad editor, it’s extremely easy to run ads across both networks – you can create, edit, and analyze them all in one central place, as you can see in the screenshot here:


Of course there are some caveats – the type of ads you want to run and the demographic you’re trying to reach can ultimately help you decide whether Facebook or Instagram ads will be more profitable, so let’s dive into those questions.

What Types of Ads Can I Run on Facebook and Instagram?

Both Facebook and Instagram offer the same options for ad formats, including:

  • Image ads
  • Video ads
  • Carousel ads
  • Slideshow ads

What Objectives Can I Track?

While Facebook offers more options overall, neither channel skimps when it comes to the number of campaign objectives available for you to track. Depending on your business goals, the available objectives for each channel could help you decide whether to advertise on Facebook, Instagram, or both.


What Audience Targeting Options Will I Have?

Both Facebook and Instagram offer the same audience targeting options for your ads, including:

  • Demographics (location, age, gender, language)
  • Interests
  • Behaviors
  • Facebook or Partner Categories
  • Connections
  • Custom Audiences

Something to keep in mind is that 80% of Instagram’s users are outside of the United States, so that might be a more profitable platform if you ship goods worldwide or have a strong presence in other countries.

If you’re looking to reach teenagers, then Instagram is a good option, as 27% of teenagers said they think Instagram is the most important social network, second only to SnapChat. And if you’re target audience is more adult-oriented, you might have more luck using Facebook. A study from Pew found that 72% of adults use Facebook, while only 28% of adults use Instagram.

Where Will My Ads Be Displayed?

This is one place where Facebook has a clear advantage. Facebook ads are eligible to show on a user’s newsfeed or the right column on desktop, as well as the newsfeed on mobile. However, Instagram ads will only show to people using the Instagram app on iOS or Android – they won’t show to people using Instagram on a desktop.

According to an article published earlier this year by Search Engine Watch, Instagram has 6.5 million multi-platform users, 20 million desktop users, and 40 million mobile users. That means if your target audience spends more time on a computer than on a smartphone or tablet, you’re more likely to reach them through Facebook ads.

Facebook Ads vs. Instagram Ads: How Much Do They Cost?

In addition to its great targeting options, Facebook is also one of the most cost-effective advertising channels. A study published by Salesforce in 2015 found that in the United States and many other English-speaking countries, the average cost-per-click of Facebook ads decreased between Q4 2014 and Q1 2015, while the average click-through-rate increased at the same time. This means that more people are engaged with Facebook ads and advertisers are paying less for those engagements.


In a similar study from Salesforce on Instagram Ad Performance, they found that Instagram performed slightly better than Facebook cost-wise:

“So far, the overall click-through rate (CTR) is 1.50%, compared to a CTR of 0.84% in Q1 2015 on Facebook. This aligns to Instagram’s position as a premium, large-format ad type. These ads occupy the entire app screen, and are designed to be highly engaging to consumers.”


Here are two other points from the study:

  1. Overall available ad impressions on Instagram is a lot lower than Facebook, but also finely managed for user experience
  2. CPC for Instagram ads is is $0.42 which is only two cents higher than all Facebook ads

Although this study was done early on when Instagram Ads were still new, it shows that Facebook and Instagram costs are comparable, however reach will be much larger on Facebook.

So…Facebook Or Instagram?

As you can see, the answer to our original question of whether you should be advertising on Facebook, Instagram, or both, is entirely dependent upon your business goals and, more importantly, your audience and where they spend most of their time.

Both Facebook and Instagram are both powerful ad platforms that are worth investing in. Make sure to check back through the questions and research listed in this post so you create your ads properly, with thought put towards each platform’s costs, display locations, targeting, and more!

If you want to go more in depth into the (literally) thousands of targeting options the Facebook Ads platform has, then download our guide: The Facebook Ads Guide to Find, Capture and Target Your Audience

[optin-monster-shortcode id=”vpjk4x4rblad6mmh”]

Jen Rubio

Jen grew up in Western New York, where she received a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from St. Bonaventure University, and later relocated to Phoenix in 2009. She has worked with a variety of businesses doing content writing, SEO, and PPC advertising. In her free time, Jen likes to travel, go to concerts, and hang out with her pets (two dogs, a cat, and a lizard).