CX Insights

7 Sponsored Instagram Ads That Get It Right

3 min read

We’ve all been there — taking a nice, mindless scroll through our Instagram feed only to be interrupted by an unwanted ad for the latest boutique hotel or quirky independent fashion label. We sigh, notify Instagram that it isn’t relevant, then carry on with getting our social fix. However, what about those ads that actually make you pause, bring a smile to your face, or even prompt you to click-through? We think it’s about time they get the recognition they deserve.

When it comes to Instagram ads, there’s a lot more to it than taking your existing Facebook or Twitter campaigns and exporting them. It’s a platform built purely around the visual meaning color, layout, and authenticity will trump a blunt, direct call-to-action. That’s why we’ve decided to round up the brands we think get it right, alongside a few best practices so you can up your game.

New York Times


By engaging users in its infamous crossword puzzle, this clever ad from the New York Times manages to be both static and interactive at the same time. What’s more, the use of nostalgia marketing for the 90’s Nickelodeon show ‘Hey Arnold!’ shows that the brand knows it’s Instagram audience and how to appeal to them.



The great thing about this Levi’s ad is that it could just be another photo in your Instagram feed. It feels authentic while maintaining quality, and shows that the brand really understands the platform and the audience they reach through it.



Monster is the only one of our examples to use video content, which research actually shows users want to see more of. The ad instantly drives engagement as users question what the film Castaway has to do with job-seeking – only for it to transpire as a clever use of humor.



Both Gilt and Gilt Man have perfected the Instagram-lay to a tee. Their smart use of space and perspective ensures they present multiple items in one shot in a stylistic and aesthetically pleasing fashion.

Taco Bell


Like Levi’s, Taco Bell expertly uses authenticity to reach it’s audience on Instagram. Again, it looks like a standard photo users would see in their feed of friends having a great time. In fact, you have to look pretty closely to notice the branded items in the shot at all. Taco Bell appears to sell an experience over specific products and as a result, they’ve nailed the social game.



The power of a good testimonial really shines through with Spring’s ad. Why should you shop there? Well, because fashion bible Vogue says you should. It can sometimes be a risk using text in such a photo-centred platform, but in this case, it certainly pays off.



This ad is not only topically relevant – referencing the Playoffs – but it’s also helpful for viewers. By offering a super easy tip for serving up Smirnoff with a colorful twist, the ad engages users and encourages them to have an experience that will remind them of the brand.

When it comes to nailing a sponsored Instagram ad campaign, these brands demonstrate that getting to know your audience is a must. Although it may appear to go against the pillars of Marketing and Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO), the key is to engage your user yet simultaneously blend into their feed. We’ve found that the best performing ads are the images that appear most genuine and add authentic value to both your brand and the wider Instagram community.

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Robyn Collinge
As Usabilla's Copywriter, Robyn brings nice words together - like peanut butter, napping, and Sunday brunch.