How are story ads performing?

October 11, 2022

The following article consists of Confect's interpretation of actual data. We analyze real-life marketing, advertising, and sales data using Confect's proprietary AI engine. Below, we're breaking down our findings and sharing our results so you can supercharge your future sales efforts. Click here to learn more about Confect.

Stories are a unique and popular way for users to consume content, with the format being easier and faster to scroll through than traditional in-feed, 1:1 content. 

This unique format can grab viewers' attention and increase engagement. 

One comparison study found that with a similar ad (copy, images, color theme, etc.), stories produced a 44% higher reach, generated 78% more click-throughs, and obtained a 45% lower cost per click compared to in-feed content. 

But when we look at the data, do story ads really perform better than other ad formats?

And more importantly, should you start using story ads to boost your next campaign’s performance?

We are reflecting story ads to all ads with aspect ratio of 9:16 

Let's dive into the basics of story ads so you can decide if running them is the right choice for your company.

14% of all ad impressions on Meta platforms are story ads

It's worth noting that only a relatively small portion of all ad impressions on Meta platforms are story ads.

Traditional 1:1 feed ads still dominate the Meta advertising space (83%) and remain the most popular ad format with advertisers. This is likely because 1:1 ads are the default format size, making them an easy choice when creating content. 

Regardless, vertical story ads can be just as viral. If not, more viral than 1:1 ads!  

Overall, we found vertical ads ranked second, with nearly 14% of all ad impressions across Facebook and Instagram.

And although 14% may not sound like a big slice of the pie, when we consider how many people use these apps, that little 14% equates to roughly 1 billion ad impressions. 

In other words, running story ads represents millions of potential conversion opportunities for you and your business. 

On average, vertical story ads perform the worst

While stories represent conversion potential, we did find some bad news when we compared the conversion rates of square, landscape, and vertical story ads. 

On average, compared to basic square ads, our data showed that 9:16 vertical story ads have a 42% lower conversion rate. 

Similarly, we found that 16:9 landscape ads performed about 38% worse than 1:1 ads.

However, this isn’t necessarily due to the format itself. 

Instead, this is likely influenced by the designs and creatives used by advertisers in their stories. 

It’s not uncommon to see advertisers use the same format in their stories as their feed content, which is not the best way to create compelling story ads at all.  

You can often spot this advertising blunder when you view a story and the content doesn’t take up the entire screen, leaving a blank border around the video or image. 

When this happens, the advertiser chose the same 1:1 format, rather than changing it to the appropriate 16:9 story format. 

Still, this underperformance left us wondering if it’s possible that story ads just aren’t that effective. 

Let’s take a look at some more data to find out! 

Top performers' vertical story ads perform almost as well as square ads

In the following chart, we divided our sample population into three categories – bottom, middle, and top performers – based on the effectiveness of their ads in generating conversions.

We then compared square 1:1 and vertical 9:16 ads within these groups. 

And what did we find? 

Within the group of bottom performers, we found that 9:16 ads performed relatively poorly. And that square ads generated as much as 76% more conversions than vertical ads.

At first glance, this might cause you to second guess ever using a vertical ad format.

However, this performance gap gradually shrunk as we moved into our middle and top performance groups.

As we can see, within our group of middle performers, square ads performed only 25% better than vertical story ads. 

And for our top performers, square ads only performed better by about 8%. 

So, as we can see, vertical story ads CAN perform just as well as square ads – that is, when advertisers know what they’re doing.

These top performers likely have more experience with advertising and are probably optimizing their story ads, which is a crucial step if you want to run a successful campaign. 

But is there anything genuinely great about using vertical ad formats? 

In short, yes, there is! 

Top performers have a 40% lower CPC on story ads than Bottom performers

Aside from differences in performance, optimizing story content with a vertical format has another surprising benefit: 

An overall lower cost per click!

Our data found that our bottom performers had the overall highest costs per click. 

But then, as we moved into our middle performers, they paid roughly 15% less per click, and our top performers paid 40% less per click. 

In other words, advertisers who properly optimize story content can save a ton of money regarding their overall advertising costs.


And that's something that any business can appreciate! 

Vertical Vs. Square Ad Format - The Great Debate! 

There's no doubt that story ads have become increasingly popular over the years. 

They offer companies yet another effective avenue for sharing their messages and standing apart from competitors.

However, it's important to remember that advertising success depends entirely upon the decisions a business makes when it comes to its paid advertisements.

Creative storytelling, combined with the right visuals and interactive elements, truly can help capture viewers' attention quickly and make an impactful impression on them - one that will hopefully last long after they swipe away from your story ad! 

Although stories represent only a tiny portion of the overall ad impressions on Meta, they can help your business reach just as many viewers as other ad formats. 

And more importantly, they can help you obtain an overall lower cost per click during your next ad campaign!

In the end, when done correctly, investing in story ads can pay off big time for businesses looking to increase reach and boost overall ad performance in the future.

More to read

This article focuses purely on the impact of text in story ads. Keep optimizing with the following insights:

Data section

The dataset from this article is based on 1B impressions and 13.6K pieces of individual content on Meta (Facebook) platforms. It takes into account data from all countries and industries, with the campaign objective of Conversions. The period is from 1. September 2021 - 16. September 2022. The content was filtered based on the aspect ratio to separate 1:1 (square) from 9:16 (vertical).

Numbers are looking at correlation only, not causation. Remember to check your own data: numbers for different brands, industries, and contexts will vary.

If you were intrigued about a specific insight, you can go in-depth into the various dimensions and how data can be segmented in Confect,  here.