Instagram’s Creative Mastermind Gives This Advice on How to Make a Good Carousel Ad

Many images, one story

Brands are playing around with Instagram's new Carousel Ads, and Instagram's creative team is working directly with advertisers to come up with ways to use the slideshows.

A carousel is simply one post with multiple photos that users can swipe to view. When the feature—which is only available in sponsored posts—was introduced, marketers were interested in the idea of sequential storytelling and building a narrative through multiple photos. The ads were first launched in the U.S. In March and roll out in more countries next week.

This week, Instagram released a handful of the first campaigns to use its carousels, including GM, CeaBrasil, Fido Mobile and Lacoste.

What those ads show is that there's more than one way to tell a story—narratives in three photos, for instance, or a number of images arranged to reveal one wide-angle ad, as was the case with GM. Instagram said that internally the name for this is a "panogram."

Fido Mobile of Canada and CeaBrasil out of Brazil used a simpler concept, taking users through a few snippets of action to plot a broader story.

No matter which route a brand chooses, there are a few universal style tips to creating a proper Carousel Ad. Instagram's creative strategist Derek Echevarria-Scott walked us through them. These are the tips he had for any creative team looking to build a carousel:

  • "The initial image in Carousel should have stopping power in-feed and stand on its own. It's important to convey enough visual information to pay off on the concept, message and branding elements for those that chose not to swipe."
  • "Think about creative ways to hint that there's more to the story beyond the initial view. Once the viewer has made it to the second image, it's safe to assume they will swipe to the end."
  • "The most important visual information should be within the first two focal points in each image. If a person's face is clearly visible, especially if you can see their eyes, it will always be one of the first focal points."
  • "Avoid long, densely worded captions. The viewer will potentially be spending a lot more time with your carousel than the average post in-feed and will want to quickly move on to the next. Think about the key words that you want to be associated with the brand and how it can be incorporated within the copywriting."
  • "If the carousel includes a call to action, ensure the landing page continues the tone of the Instagram creative and is mobile-optimized."