With a reported 478 million active users every month, and a growing number of consumers that frequent the channel for product discovery, Pinterest has emerged as a powerful social platform for brands looking to diversify their paid social media mix.
In addition to exponentially growing its base—with notable increases in Gen Z, Millennial, and male users—and improving media sharing features, we’ve seen Pinterest make great strides in advertising capabilities for brands as well as strengthening its agency partnerships. In fact, Pinterest saw its new users increase by 37% in 2020, with Q4 2020 revenue reaching $706 million in that same quarter, a 76% year-on-year rise.
In this guide, we dive into everything a brand should know about Pinterest ads: the different campaign types, targeting, creative, and some strategies from the experts.
“Pinterest continues to grow from both a user and revenue perspective, driven heavily by their investment in commerce-focused products. Their innovation puts them on par with other social leaders as a conversion driving platform.”
Why Sell on Pinterest?
Since 2009, Pinterest has fostered an online gathering place for people seeking gift ideas, recipes, DIY projects, and general inspiration. With enhanced business features like the product feed and native checkout, it has become an important sales and marketing channel for large and small retailers alike.
While 2020 was a tumultuous year for advertisers due in large part to the COVID-19 pandemic and summer’s social media boycott, Pinterest saw impressive growth in ad sales in the latter half of the year. Many point to the positivity of Pinterest as a driving force for advertisers more heavily embracing the platform. As The Motley Fool notes: “What makes it stand out from competitors like Facebook and Twitter is that it is focused on the finer things in life while avoiding hot button issues like politics or news stories. This makes using Pinterest fun for users and “brand safe” for advertisers.”
Pinterest is specifically designed to promote product and gift ideas. It’s a social marketplace where sharing and promoting products isn’t perceived as intrusive (as it can be on other social networks) — it’s actually encouraged.
Compound that with 72% of surveyed Pinners reporting that “Pinterest inspires them to shop when they aren’t actually looking for anything,” and 70% saying they “discover new products on Pinterest,” and you have a good case for your brand to be present and active on the platform.
Pinterest Q4 2020 Growth
Tinuiti advertisers were among those leaning more heavily into Pinterest in 2020, with triple figure increases in adoption rates. Snapchat advertising also saw a sizable jump with a 67% bump in adoption rates, showing that advertisers are becoming more open to exploring social platforms that historically took a backseat to Facebook and Instagram.
In the chart below we’ve highlighted our advertisers’ year-over-year growth in adoption for Pinterest and Snapchat ads — +117% and +67%, respectively.
For Tinuiti advertisers that are active on both Pinterest and Facebook, or Snapchat and Facebook, their Q4 2020 spending in relation to Facebook is reflected below.
Pinterest Advertising Helps Brands Diversify Their Social Media Mix
Brands that already advertise and sell on Facebook know that there are serious advantages to diversifying their budget into other social channels, which is another reason Pinterest makes such an attractive choice. As interest in Pinterest has continued to grow, its capabilities have grown right along with it. 2020 was undoubtedly a big year for Pinterest, and exciting new changes are already starting to roll out in 2021, including the addition of Dynamic Creative.
In addition to diversifying your budget allocations, within Pinterest, it’s also important to diversify your pins themselves. With a goal of exposing users to a “greater variety of content types in the home feed,” Pinterest introduced Controllable Distribution in August 2020. SEJ notes: “Pinterest is diversifying the types of content in the home feed. If you want more opportunities to show up in peoples’ feeds then diversify the types of content you publish. For example, if you only publish photos, then consider adding some videos or GIFs to the mix. Maybe some product pins if you’re an e-commerce retailer.”
We echo these recommendations from both an advertising and user-focused view. There will always be people who prefer one form of content over another, or even those who prefer certain types of content within differing categories. In example, while some users would be more inclined to click on a photo of a dress, others might prefer a short video showing how that dress moves when walking. Including Product Pins and Video Pins helps ensure you’re delivering interesting content in the preferred format, which can also help more of your Pins be seen thanks to controllable distribution.
“While Facebook has historically been the king of direct response, each social channel has a unique offering that aligns with real business goals. Each of these channels should be considered when pulling together a holistic paid social strategy.”
— Katy Lucey, Director of Paid Social at Tinuiti
You know that Pinterest is a viable marketing channel to reach new audiences that are poised to make a purchase, so how do you get started?
The good news is that advertising on Pinterest is easier than ever with its self-service ad platform: Pinterest Ads Manager.
Using Ads Manager is much like any other self-service platform, which means you can create and launch campaigns in minutes.
How to create your Pinterest ad campaign:
- Create a new ad from Pinterest Ads Manager
- Set your campaign goal
- Enter ad group details
- Select your targeting
- Pick a budget and schedule
- Select a Pin to promote
If you’re ready to get started, head on over to Pinterest’s Ad portal here and create your account.
Bulk Upload to Pinterest
Before the Bulk Editor Tool, a Pinterest advertising campaign had to be uploaded and edited one Pin at a time. Pinterest introduced the feature to encourage more retailers to invest in the social media platform in November of 2015.
“It gives us the ability to create an Excel doc with the info available in the feed and increase the number of Pins uploaded at one time,” says Stephen Kerner, Director of Growth Media at Tinuiti.
For more info on how to bulk upload and edit your Pins, check out Pinterest’s Bulk Editor Tips here.
Pinterest uses a unique system of Pins that users can save and review later.
Retailers and creators make Pins and users can then search through them and ‘Pin’ them to their profile.
Pinterest uses associated keywords and hashtags with these Pins to help customers find what they are searching for more easily. Here’s an overview of the different Pinterest Promoted Pins that you can create.
Pinterest Promoted Pins do exactly as their name implies, sending your products and the information provided for them directly to the potential customer to save. If another Pinner then repins the Pin from one of that users’ boards, “the “Promoted” label goes away and subsequent repins are considered earned media. In other words, you get added exposure for free.”
Promoted Pins are similar to organic Pins, with the exception that retailers must pay to have them seen by more Pinterest users. Typically, these native ad units perform just as well, if not even better than organic Pins, expanding visibility to relevant search results, category feeds, and the home feed.
Brands can use Promoted Pins to:
- Raise Brand Awareness
- Promote Engagement Campaigns
- Drive Traffic Campaigns
Within Promoted Pins, you can have Standard Pins, but we recommend installing the Pixel and meta tag to create Rich Pins.
Rich Pins are an exciting free option for Pinterest advertising that is available to all Pinterest users. Rich Pins allow you to link metadata from your company’s web page directly to the Pin on Pinterest. Before you’ll be able to begin creating Rich Pins, you need to apply for them to ensure your data syncs properly.
Rich Pins are divided into several categories based on the type of metadata that are linked through it:
- Product Pins
- Article Pins
- Recipe Pins
Rich Pins allow for more information to be displayed on Pinterest, and when you make any changes to metadata on your website, that will immediately be updated on the Pin. To help Product Pins get even more attention, Pinterest is testing new “Popular” and “Best seller” labels, as well as “showing updated sale prices next to the original price on product pins.”
Shoppable Product Pins
To make it even easier for consumers to surface Pins showcasing purchasable goods, Pinterest added a ‘Shop’ tab in April 2020. This allows users to easily hone in on in-stock items they can purchase now, or Pin for later, with the ‘Shop’ tab being automatically added to boards that include shoppable items. Merchants can also transform their Shop tab into a visually appealing storefront. This helps merchants feature those in-stock products in a more organized, deliberate way.
These Shoppable Pins can also help you capture customers who saw your product—or a similar product—elsewhere, thanks to enhancements to Pinterest’s Lens camera.
Pinterest Ad Groups
Updates to Pinterest’s campaign structure allows for all ad types to run within a single campaign. Rather than spreading budgets across campaigns and creative advertisers can focus more on performance rather than allocating specific budgets. Currently, campaign budget optimization (similar to Facebook’s CBO capability) is in the testing stages.
Additionally, by running ad types side-by-side, advertisers can clearly see results and make creative performance optimizations. As a whole, this makes creative testing smoother and provides insight to advertisers on which assets work best for their audiences.
Benefits to budgeting and targeting: By grouping Promoted Pins together into groups advertisers can more easily test their marketing efforts. Ad groups can more easily be adjusted than the entire ad campaign as a whole, and allow for more precise budgeting for specific regions, product lines, and target audiences.
Streamlining campaigns across platforms: Most other platforms allow for the use of ad groups, so other campaigns can be adapted for Pinterest advertising rather than making an entirely new one.
Pinterest users are browsing with a discovery mindset, hoping to find products, crafts, and ideas to implement within their lives. Pinterest recently upgraded their Boards with 3 new features to help users make even better use of the platform, including the ability to leave themselves notes on the Pins themselves.
These users expect to see copy and context within the creative images they view on-site.
Advertisers are recommended to include logos and text overlays within the creative assets to catch users’ attention.
- Make your brand the focus
- Include your logo
- Add text overlays with actionable call outs
- Align your content to seasonal moments
- Use descriptions to add more context
Video gives you another interactive creative asset to deploy across your Pinterest advertising campaigns. And it’s a very valuable asset at that. In May 2020, Pinterest reported that they “continue to see increased views of organic video pins—up 240% year on year.” This is an impressive statistic in its own right, but is particularly noteworthy considering this increase followed a huge 2019 jump, when the “number of video views on Pinterest grew more than 6x compared to 2018.”
Combining short video clips with text overlays—or even using GIFS—can be a great way to compel your audience to build awareness and clickthrough to your landing pages.
We recommend keeping your videos playful and product-focused because Pinterest users are expecting to discover and potentially buy items they are interested in.
Videos Pins can be leveraged in both Standard and Max Width formats. Max Width Video ads rolled out in 2019 and dominate the viewer’s feed by spanning across both columns of their grid. Max Width Video is seeing strong success in driving increased brand awareness and engagement rates.
The Pin Builder Tool
For advertisers that don’t have a design team dedicated to Pinterest ads, Pinterest’s Pin Builder tool can be a great way to make light edits before publishing your Pins online.
“To bridge the gap across additional social platforms Pinterest has implemented a Pin Builder Tool within the build flow on their UI. This tool provides the ability to crop images, and add logos and text with a variety of colors, fonts, and size options.”
— Jennifer Porch, Paid Social Senior Specialist at Tinuiti
“Taking advantage of this tool makes repurposing creative from other platforms to fit what Pinterest users expect to see simple and smooth.”
You can also create Shopping Ads to dynamically retarget audiences using Pinterest’s product feed tool, known as Catalogs. Pinterest recently enhanced the Catalog feature with a “more intuitive interface” that makes it “faster and simpler for merchants to upload their catalogs and activate shopping ads, with faster Catalog feed ingestion, video as the main hero image in collections, collections as a new shopping ad format, and a new preferred scheduling tool that lets retailers upload all products to Pinterest on their own time.” This update also brought Catalogs and collections together “to make collections a shopping ad format.”
Pinterest expanded their shopping objective campaigns to allow for feed-based ads, and rolling out dynamic audiences. Tinuiti brands have seen 12% higher ROAS from shopping campaigns than standard conversion campaigns.
For more info on how to get started with uploading your product feed to Pinterest, check out Before you get started with Catalogs.
After you’ve created Pins, you will have to select a method of targeting your audience. Pinterest targets audiences based on two things—keywords and interests.
Keyword Targeting: Through keywords, you can reach customers searching for specific things associated with your product.
Interest Targeting: Pinterest can be searched by customers by things they are interested in. This method is broader than keywords but can be effective if thoughtfully utilized.
Actalike Audiences: For keyword targeting, there is an opportunity to hone in on seasonal keywords like ‘back to school,’ ‘holiday shopping,’ etc. To reach people whose interests and behaviors are similar to your customers, we recommend starting with broad actalikes that cast a wider net. Once you have enough data insights to measure how they perform, you can narrow your focus to what worked best.
Pinterest Dynamic Creative: Earlier this year, Pinterest launched a new “ad process which will enable advertisers to automate the ad creation and targeting process for their campaigns based on individual user behavior.” Pinterest notes:
“Advertisers can now generate multiple versions of new Pins from uploaded assets or a product feed where they can automatically import product data (price, location, availability, etc.). Parts of the Pins will dynamically display creative elements like product images, copy, pricing, etc. which will only be shown to the advertiser’s assigned audiences.”
Along with keywords and interests, advertisers using Pinterest can target users based on gender, language, devices, location, and more. Keep in mind though that using more of these targeting options will increase Pinterest advertising costs.
Customer List Targeting: This tool allows advertisers to target users through already existing customer lists. Advertisers can compare their existing customers to users on Pinterest.
Visitor Retargeting: This feature allows advertisers to add conversion tags on their sites and track behaviors and movements in their existing customers. Data collected can then be used to provide appropriate content to the right users and focus ad spend more effectively.
Look-A-Like Targeting: This method of targeting allows you to target users that behave similarly to your current audience, using already existing data to determine users most likely to be interesting in your Pinterest advertisements.
Pin Engagers: This gives advertisers the opportunity to deliver ads to visitors that have previously engaged with Pins from their website. Engagement types include Pin clicks, outbound clicks, Pins they saved or commented on, carousel card swipes, and Video Pin views.
Pinterest Ads Bidding
There are several different bidding strategies that you can use for your Pinterest ads, with the recent addition of an automated bidding option in Ads Manager and the Bulk Editor, which enables Pinterest to bid on your behalf. Here are two that we find work particularly well for brands selling on Pinterest.
As a higher funnel initiative, Pinterest has rolled out Destination View to optimize to those users that not only click on Pins, but make it to the landing page URL. This allows advertisers to drive more qualified traffic to site.
ATC vs. Checkout Conversion
While Pinterest allows for checkout-conversion event optimization, Tinuiti brands have seen stronger success for prospecting audiences while optimizing for add to cart-conversion event. This allows for a focus on a higher level action so that there are more actions taken for more algorithm learnings.
“Tinuiti brands have seen a 91% increase in Prospecting ROAS when switching from checkout to add to cart event. Simultaneously while optimizing for ATC actions, taking advantage of the higher ATC numbers by retargeting based on users who have ATC but not purchased, Retargeting ATC audience saw 35% increase in ROAS after Prospecting shift.”
— Jennifer Porch, Paid Social Senior Specialist at Tinuiti
Pinterest Ads: Conclusion
Pinterest advertising is becoming a more viable marketing channel each year, especially for brands that have an audience that frequents the platform for product discovery and ideas. And they aren’t resting on their laurels. Pinterest is already making waves in 2021 with the launch of dynamic ads, an “AR Try On” feature for eyeshadow that expands on existing capabilities, and the addition of a Story Pins carousel panel on the home page for some users.
If you are looking to diversify your social media budget beyond Facebook and Instagram, we recommend considering Pinterest as part of your media mix, particularly as the platform continues to improve its upper to mid-funnel capabilities with compelling inventory and improvements to its self-serve ad platform.
Ready to learn more about how advertising on Pinterest can benefit your brand? Contact us today to chat with an expert.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published by Greg Swan in April 2020 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.