Market Trends

Written by Kat Peake December 23, 2019

Stories ads creatives, volume 1: Getting your approach right

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One of the major trends in social media in the last few years has been the rise of the Stories format. Originally launched by Snapchat, and now present and widely adopted on networks like Instagram, Facebook, WhatsApp, and even YouTube, Stories have brought a new kind of spontaneity and authenticity to sharing on social. They have facilitated a new way to share content more regularly than in the feed, and reduced pressure, since on many networks they disappear after 24 hours.

For brands, Stories formats have been a great tool for regular connection and interaction with audiences both from organic and advertising approaches.

hopper stories adWhen it comes to digital ads in general, creative can make or break your campaign. According to a Nielsen Catalina study, 56% of a brand’s sales lift from digital advertising can be attributed to the quality of the creative. When it comes to Stories in particular, their immersive, full-screen nature means creative is especially important. The format relies on engaging, thumb-stopping creative which makes the most of the uniqueness of the vertical and highly personal space.

But what actually makes for effective creative when it comes to Stories ads? Facebook ran an in-depth study to identify the core creative considerations for brands using Stories on Facebook and Instagram, along with areas brands can explore creatively.

To help you create successful Stories ads, we’re diving into these findings in a two-part series. In this first part, we’ll look at how you should approach your Stories ads broadly, before going into the details of design in our next blog post.

Approaching your Stories creatives

When you get started with your Stories ads, here are some of the global considerations you should pay attention to when laying out your creative concepts.


Alex McQueen stories ad

Keep attention with speed. The Stories environment moves fast: people consume them quickly, swiping through with great speed. To keep people watching, it’s important to design creative that captures attention from the first frame and holds it. Speed as a creative element can be a great asset in doing this, catching people’s attention and holding it.

Create for Stories-first. When you have the choice between using a template or making creatives designed specifically for Stories, it’s best to go with a Stories-first approach. These blend in better with content from users’ friends, and have a better aesthetic overall. In Facebook’s study, stories-first creatives had a 99% chance of outperforming creatives using an automatic default template.

Use multiple scenes. Creating a story with multiple quick scenes leads to more effective campaigns. Top performing ads have scenes that average 2.8 seconds.

Enhance static with motion. When you have a static asset, like an image of your product, enhancing it with some motion led to better business outcomes. Motion catches the eye, so it’s no surprise that it works better in the fast-paced stories environment!


Testing and adapting is an important part of the creative process for advertising. Trying out different variables in your ads and tracking key metrics can deliver valuable information on which creative elements drive the best results.

Since there’s no universal formula for creativity, you should test out several elements to determine what might work best for your brand. Just be sure to test a limited number of variables at a time, since that will let you see which ones specifically are driving better performance.

Here are a couple of things to test when it comes to your broad Stories approach:

Screenshot 2019-12-13 at 18.28.49Mobile-shot creative. Stories are notable for their spontaneous and ephemeral nature, which means they don’t necessarily need to look as polished as other formats. For brands using Stories ads, a major question has lingered: is performance better using highly polished, studio-edited videos and images, or could “self-recorded” creative be the key for brands to better connect with users and unlock this format’s full potential?

In a test with our client Birchbox, mobile-shot ads creatives outperformed studio-shot content. And in Facebook’s overall tests, when it came to purchase, app-install, and checkout objectives, there was a 63% chance that mobile-shot assets outperformed studio-shot.

Mix motion & static. Facebook tested if static-only, video-only, or static plus video campaigns drove more conversions. They found that there was an 86% chance that campaigns with mixed format assets (static & video) drove better value than static-only or video-only campaigns. Using a mix of formats can help bring your Stories ads to life, while bringing more creativity to your storytelling.

Learn more about creativity in advertising

Stay tuned for the next article in our series on Stories ads creatives!

In the meantime, learn more about advertising creativity in our latest eBook.

Our guide is here to help you understand the impact that creative has on your digital advertising performance. It will also help you build a great creative strategy and develop ad creatives for better performance across networks. In this guide, you’ll also learn:

  • MMR_LandingPage_CREATIVITYHow to define creativity in advertising
  • How creativity impacts performance
  • How to build a great creatives strategy, along with some best practices and expert tips
  • Creative ad formats across networks, including Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest, Twitter, and Google, plus best creative practices for each network
  • Tools to help you build better ad creatives
  • How to measure creative performance

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