Instagram's Feed Ad

Instagram's Feed Ad

Lead designer


Helping grow Instagram's new ad business.

I joined Instagram in 2015 right after graduating from college and became the second designer working on their ads products. At the time, our ads business was very young and needed to prove its value to advertisers. I was fortunate enough to become part of the team entrusted with the task of helping grow the business by optimizing its feed ad format. The final design for the call-to-action button was the result of countless iterations, experiments, and refinements.


Understanding how people interact with Instagram ads

In order to determine our design opportunities, I worked with data and user research to understand how people consumed our ads. While a lot of these insights led to engineering improvements, like ranking, some of these insights identified real problems that design could help solve. These insights were:

  • Unlike people on other platforms like Facebook, people on Instagram don’t expect or notice that feed posts or ads link offsite.

  • People show interests in ads by liking, dwelling on the ad, visiting the comments view, or visiting the profile.

Instagram's first ad format had a subtle call to action which was hard to spot by people who typically scroll the feed quickly. 

Eye tracking data showed that most people focus on the left side of the feed.

Eye tracking data showed that most people focus on the left side of the feed.


Designing a Solution

Based on our people insights and business objectives, I determined two main goals for the new button design.

Educate people when ads are actionable

The button design is visually subtler, but also aligned with the most dense part of the feed so people interested in the ad would be able to easily spot it.

Encourage actions when people show intent

To encourage people who show interest in an ad to take action, I designed a button system that would highlight itself after liking or dwelling on the ad. This same button system could also be placed on the comments or profile views since we learned that these were often visited by people who are interested in learning more about the advertiser.


Thanks to these designs, we were able to deliver higher ROI to advertisers with an increase in click-through rates and an even higher increase in click-to-conversion rates. This showed that we were able to educate more people that they could take action on an ad and that these were valuable customer leads who ended up converting on the advertiser’s site. Learn more about the estimated metric increases on this article posted by Nanigans.