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Instagram Ads vs Facebook Ads for eCommerce

April 23, 2018

In today’s digital age, eCommerce continues to become increasingly influential when it comes to both online and in-store purchases. Up to 56% of in-store purchases are influenced by digital/eCommerce, and eCommerce itself accounts for 10% of retail sales in the U.S. That number is expected to continue growing by almost 15% every year.

This increasing popularity means not only that it is a great time to get into the eCommerce business, whether that means integrating a digital, eCommerce strategy for an existing brick and mortar store, or setting up that online business you’ve always dreamed of. However, it also means that there is increased competition in the digital realm, and that means it is essential to have an online ad strategy to go along with your business.

Two of the most popular forums for ads are obviously two of the most popular online platforms—Instagram and Facebook. But how do you decide where to advertise and what kinds of campaigns will be the most successful? That’s where we come in! In this blog, I’ll discuss which platform is better for eCommerce, with tips and tricks to make sure your campaigns are a success!

Three Main Objectives

There are three main factors you need to take into consideration to ensure that you’re choosing the right platform for you ad campaigns. There is no bigger failure than launching a great campaign and having it be seen by no one—or by no one who is interested. For the best return on investment, you need make sure you’re not only targeting the right audience, but are also able to reach them. In order to do this, you need to know the following 3 elements for each social media platform: reach; engagement; and demographics.


Reach refers quite simply to the amount of people you are able to reach through each platform.

Instagram – When you advertise on Instagram, you’ll have access to 800 million users. Of course, your ad won’t be seen by all of them, but it’s still a very large audience. One big benefit of Instagram is that it has stronger organic reach, which means your unpaid content will still reach a nice portion of your audience. Hashtags also play a huge role in reach, as users can follow specific hashtags.

Facebook – While Instagram has an impressive amount of users, it doesn’t really compare to Facebook’s 2.07 billion user base. One benefit of running ads on Facebook is that are many more ad targeting options compared to Instagram. With Facebook, you can choose which users you want to see your ads based on factors such as age, gender, languages, and more detailed targeting where you can exclude certain people, take advantage of connections such as Pages liked, apps, or events, appeal to custom audiences you can create using tools like the Facebook pixel, or lookalike audiences.


Engagement refers to how users interact with the post, i.e. liking, sharing, or commenting.

Instagram – While it’s hard to get numbers on the specifics of user engagement overall, it is clear that brands are finding success on Instagram. In 2016, only 48.8% of U.S. businesses were using Instagram, but that number skyrocketed to 70.7% in 2017. Additionally, many big name brands post on their Instagram accounts much more frequently than their Facebook accounts, and 80% of users follow at least one business, so obviously Instagram is a great avenue for audience engagement.

Facebook – One thing we know about Facebook engagement is that it is very difficult to have your posts seen if you’re not paying. Engagement from organic posts is lowering. However, as we mentioned earlier, ad targeting is huge.


Demographics refer to the people that are using the platform. This will play a huge role in deciding which platform is right for your business.

Instagram – While Instagram doesn’t have as many users as Facebook overall, it is very popular among younger audiences. It is highly popular among young adults ages 19-29, and is used slightly more commonly by women than men, with 31% of women 24% of men using the app. If you’re targeting women between the ages of 19 to 29 specifically, then Instagram should definitely be a priority.

Facebook – As the numbers might suggest, Facebook is used by ALL age groups, and 79% of all internet users use Facebook. When it comes to the breakdown between genders, 77% of women and 66% of men use Facebook,

Types of Ads

Though Instagram is pretty basic, there are multiple ad types you can choose from when advertising on Facebook:

  • Photo Ads – Ads with a single photo. This is comparable to an Instagram ad as well.
  • Video Ads – Ads with videos. Also comparable to ads on Instagram.
  • Carousel Ads – Ads with a combination of multiple images and videos.
  • Slideshow Ads – Ads that are essentially lightweight video ads.
  • Collection Ads – Ads with multiple products in one.
  • Messenger Ads – Ads that automatically reach out to people through your business page.

Running Ads on Both?

While deciding on which platform to choose, one thing to consider is running ads on both. There are many benefits to running an ad on both Facebook and Instagram, including:

Optimization – You ads will be optimized if you choose to run ads on both platforms. Plus, you will be able to get feedback and data to analyze and determine which platform will be the right choice going forward, and at what cost.

Simplicity – Not only is it easy to launch an ad campaign on each platform at the same time, but studies have also found that content that does well on Facebook will also work well on Instagram.

No Account Required – If you have Facebook but don’t have Instagram, you’re in the clear! You don’t need an Instagram account because you’re able to run your ads through Facebook’s ad manager.


Studies have found that the average cost-per-click for an ad on Instagram is $0.80, while the average cost-per-click for Facebook is $0.35. However, these prices depend on a variety of factors, including which day of the week your ad is running, as well as the time of the year.

Getting your eCommerce business up and running on Facebook and Instagram can not only help you make more sales, but also increase your following and create brand loyalty. If you’re interested in learning more about running ads on Facebook, then check out our Facebook Ads online course.

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