Targeted advertising on Instagram. Let's put it simple

5 min read
29 September 2021

Targeted advertising is progressively becoming one of the core business tools. Let us explain in few words what it is and what opportunities targeted advertising can give.

What targeted advertising is

Targeted advertising is an advertising system that is implemented in almost all social networks: Instagram, Facebook, VK, TikTok. YouTube also has a kind of it.

The peculiarity of targeted advertising is that it is based on targeting. Targeting is like giving a characteristic of an audience. We explain to the system that we are looking for residents of St. Petersburg over 40 years old, playing billiards, divorced, visiting a particular city district. We provide this information, and the system finds us the right people and shows them our ads. That immediately opens up many possibilities.

Targeted advertising potential

The precise definition of the target audience

We get a tool with which we can find our target audience, work with it, and not try, as in the case of banner ads or TV ads, to reach everyone, hoping to cover our target groups as well.

Specifying adds for each target audience segment

We have an opportunity to customize our message. Most likely, people under 30 and over 50 need to be told differently about our product, whatever it is. Young people struggle with some challenges — adults face others. The same is true for the sex. We can show men’s clothing advertisements to men and women’s clothing advertisements — to women. As a result, everyone sees what they need. That saves money. We do not pay for useless impressions. We pay for showing the right information to the right person.

Targeting formats

Micro location

Micro locations are points on the map. We can guide Instagram, VK, Facebook that we need people who work in a particular business center. Or we need people who live in a housing community. The system will show ads specifically to them.

All targeted ads have access to the phone geolocation. Therefore, the system knows where a person spends the night, which means where they live and where they are during the day, i.e., works. Based on this, we can show ads to people who live in a particular house or area where they work and in places they often visit or where they are right now.

Behavioral format

The behavioral format is based on the interests of the audience, the buying activity of the audience.

The system analyzes how a person reacts to other ads, sees what a person is doing on the site. For example, a person goes to the website of a residential complex and leaves a request for a viewing appointment. It becomes clear to the system that this person is now in search of housing. Accordingly, our ad will be shown primarily to people who are currently interested in it.

Social format

Such targeting is on VKontakte but not on Facebook and Instagram. Some add-ons allow you to show ads to people who are friends with a specific person. This user is the influencer of our audience. We can show our ads to their followers.

Another example. We can show ads to people whose husbands or wives have a birthday in the coming month. We can select this audience and show them ads in the format “Do not know what to give your beloved? Here we have got a special offer for you”.

Professional targeting

For example, we can show ads to all accountants in Samara or to all bank employees over 40 years old.

Targeted ad formats

There are several ad formats in targeted advertising: a post in the feed or an ad unit in the sidebar (this is a legal requirement — any ad must be labeled “ad” or “ad record”).

Text plus image

The most common ad format is text plus an image, for example, a product picture and a description of its key benefits.


A carousel is a set of 10 images that a person can scroll through. The user scrolls through selects what they need.

Text plus video

Videos can be of different formats. For example, one in which there is a message from the head is very popular.

How to set up targeting

Ads Manager

Most social networks have their own Ads platforms: VK has a separate Ads account, Facebook and Instagram share a traditional Ads Manager. Odnoklassniki has a service called MyTarget. YouTube has Google AdWords, TikTok has its TikTok Ads, Yandex. Zen has its advertising section.

The ads platform is where you choose your settings, where you specify what to show. Create an ad, start it, track your budget.

УInstagram is perhaps the only exception — it has an interface. You can create a simple ad and run targeted ads to promote a specific post right through the Instagram interface.

Targeting cost

The intrinsic value is formed depending on how popular the target group is. For example, there are women aged 25-40. This group sees a lot of ads. Accordingly, if you choose this audience for targeting, then the cost may be slightly higher. Also, the cost depends on the volume. The wider the audience, the cheaper it is.

The system is designed in such a way that you really pay for the result. At the start, you specify what you need: requests from customers, calls, likes, views.

The right advertising campaign means creating different ads for different target groups and finding the most profitable ones.

Advertising on your existing clients

There is a unique opportunity: you can take phones or e-mails of your clients, put them to a plain text doc or Excel, CSV file, upload them to an advertising account, and the system will find the customers by the phone number or e-mail. It doesn’t matter if their account is open or not. The system will find clients who are registered on social networks.

Now you can show them the ad you believe is appropriate. We can address our customer segments individually. That encourages repeat sales.

Audience analysis

We can upload a database of our clients, their phone numbers or e-mails, and the system will find them and analyze what they have in common itself, creating a portrait of your typical client. There are more than 100 parameters for analysis.

Targeted advertising is now one of the core marketing tools. One of the simplest ways with the lowest entry threshold is launching advertising campaigns that allow you to attract customers at a low price.