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Are Instagram Ads or Facebook Ads More Cost Effective?

March 18, 2020 • By

Scott Ayres

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Instagram ads or Facebook ads: Which site will get the Social Media Lab lower cost-per-click (CPC)?

That’s what we will find out in today’s experiment.

region: “na1”,
portalId: “8477337”,
formId: “b1da3640-37c5-4491-89af-ece15778db8c”

A business’s ad costs can be the difference between turning a profit or going bankrupt.

For example, WebFx says Instagram CPC is over 3X higher than Facebook:

ad cpc

Falcon.io says the Instagram and Facebook CPC is much lower, yet Instagram still much higher:

facebook ads cpc

Comparing Instagram ads and Facebook ads is difficult. They are two different platforms with different user experiences. Facebook is full of ads, link posts, photos, live videos, uploaded videos, etc. The  Instagram feed is just photos and videos, mixed in with ads taking users to specific URLs.

Despite the difficulty of comparison , we want to see whether our findings regarding CPC is similar to what others have found from massive case studies.

Related Post: Four Tips for Getting More Leads and Conversions From Your Facebook Ads

Hypothesis: Instagram has a higher CPC than Facebook ads.

facebook cpc

Testing Instagram Ads vs Facebook Ads

To evenly test Instagram versus Facebook ads, we ran two split tests, sending traffic to different blog posts for each test. 

Setting up the ad as a split test allows me to have identical ads on both platforms. The only difference was the placement of the ads, Instagram feed, and Facebook feed.

The ads were run on the Agorapulse accounts on both platforms.

team social media management

The Ads

Here are the Facebook ads:

facebook ads

facebook ads

These are the Instagram ads:

instagram ads

instagram ads

The ads are identical, giving us the purest and cleanest test possible.


We limited the ad audience to English language preference users and filtered down to focus on the following countries/regions:

  • United States
  • Canada
  • Australia
  • United Kingdom (Great Britain and Northern Ireland)

Facebook (Instagram) targeting allows advertisers to drill down, ensuring your ad is targeted at those most interested in your ads’ content.

The ad targeting based on interests looked like this:

  • Science
  • Mari Smith
  • Joel Comm
  • Social science
  • HootSuite
  • Post Planner
  • Smart Passive Income with Pat Flynn
  • Kim Garst
  • Sprout Social
  • Social Media Examiner
  • Buffer


The beauty of split testing within Facebook Ads Manager is Facebook takes care of splitting the budget evenly. Facebook understands you are running the ad for a test, thus ensuring things are divided fairly.

For Ad 1, our budget was $550, Ad 2 was $525. Our total budget for this experiment was $1,075.

The exact budget is never fully spent; this is how things ended regarding the ad spend:

  • Instagram Ad 1: $274.82
  • Instagram Ad 2:  $243.63
  • Facebook Ad 1: $274.88
  • Facebook Ad 2: $243.96

We spent $518.45 on Instagram, $518.84 on Facebook ($1,037.29 total) on this experiment.

Data Comparing Instagram vs Facebook Ads

We’ll look at three data points from the ads to draw a conclusion: Reach, Clicks, and CPC. Cost-Per-Click (CPC) will be our most important factor, but to test statistical significance, Reach and Clicks will be important.


  • Reach: 27,347
  • Clicks: 393
  • CPC: $1.33


  • Reach: 76,971
  • Clicks: 689
  • CPC: $0.76

In percentages, Facebook had 42.86% lower CPC, 75.32% more Clicks and 181.46% more Reach!


Impressive numbers by Facebook ads, but are these figures statistically significant?

Conclusion on Instagram Ads vs Facebook Ads

facebook ads

According to the data above Facebook ads outperformed Instagram ads in every category. But, are these results solid enough to draw a conclusion?

That’s where our statistical significance calculation comes into play. With it, we can determine whether we (or you) were to run this test again would the results be the same.

Here’s what we found using Neil Patel’s A/B split tester “A” is Instagram, “B” is Facebook”:

instagram ad data

Not the results I expected. I entered the data in 5-6 other calculators to be certain and got the same result every time.

The reason for this is the Instagram ad required less Reach to get clicks than Facebook. Meaning the click-through-rate (CTR) was better for Instagram.

The Instagram ads averaged a 1.44% CTR, while Facebook ads saw a 0.90% CTR.

This is where analyzing ad performance (or even organic social media performance) gets tricky. Our ads had a lower CPC on Facebook but required our ad getting in front of more users to get clicks.

Our goal was to see if Facebook or Instagram had lower CPC, not make assumptions about the audience. Therefore Facebook is the winner with the lower CPC.


A 42.86% lower CPC on Facebook leads me to this conclusion. Plus, the Facebook ads had nearly 300 more clicks overall, for the same cost.

The ads on Instagram may have been more effective at getting clicks with less exposure, but they cost us more money per click.

Lyfe Marketing said based on data provided in this image from Selftstartr that Instagram users embrace ads at a much higher rate than Facebook. So, yes, cost per click is higher, but it’s better and has more qualified clicks.

In the end, both Instagram and Facebook are great platforms to advertise on. But for this Social Media Lab experiment, Facebook wins due to the lower CPC.