Pinterest’s early-June introduction of Buyable Pins revved up the conversation about Pinterest advertising — where it stands, how viable it is for advertisers, and how interested we need to be in the platform.


Let’s dive in to what Pinterest currently offers advertisers and whether you should start thinking about adding it to your paid social profile.

Ad types

Currently, Pinterest advertising takes one form: Promoted Pins (although you can eventually expect to see the Buyable Pins roll out to a wider audience).

pinterest promoted pin

The pins appear right in your Pinterest feed; the only real distinction between promoted and organic pins are the relatively subtle “Promoted by” at the bottom of the pin. Click on the pins, and you’ll see a couple of opportunities to go to the advertising site to buy; either click on the product title or the “Visit Site” button.

promoted pin action

Promoted Pins are CPC-based and targeted at the keyword/category level. You set a bid amount based on the keywords and categories for which you’d like your Promoted Pin(s) to show up. Pinterest will help you determine an adequate bid range in the ad platform. There’s no minimum cost for CPC bidding.

To give your Promoted Pins a fighting chance, you should first look at what is getting organic activity for the keywords you’d like to show up for. Make sure you’re creating pins that will actually get engagement. In my experience, while CPAs aren’t anything special, Promoted Pins help make sure super-popular products show up for keywords and categories that could match a Pinterest user’s intent.

As of Jan. 1, 2015, all U.S.-based partners can also do what’s known as ‘reservation-based’ promoted pins, which run on CPM. It’s similar to Facebook’s RFP program (reach + frequency purchase), where you’re paying a set price for an anticipated volume of impressions. (At last check with Pinterest, the reservation-based CPM program had a high buy-in cost and high CPMs, and only national brands with huge budgets have taken advantage so far.)

Buyable Pins, of course, are on the horizon once the feature opens to more brands. Rather than giving users the option to click through to the advertising site, Buyable Pins will let users buy directly on the Pinterest platform.

buyable pin


Promoted Pins are not available to all brands and advertisers. If not already whitelisted, you’ll need to submit a request to be on the waitlist. As noted, U.S. advertisers can try out ‘reservation-based’ promoted pins, which run on CPM, but the inflated buy-in cost is prohibitive for all but the biggest retailers. As for Buyable Pins, the rollout is currently very limited — and even when it’s more widely available, you may want to wait for data and tracking (and payment options) to get more layered.

Data and tracking

The Pinterest Ad API allows for more robust ad insights, scheduling, automation, and, in theory, scale. A very select few partners have access to the Ads API (Pinterest is remaining tight-lipped on this), but it comes on the heels of the Business Insights API announcement last year.
For now, most of us advertisers will continue to do regular Promoted Pins and rely on the standard Pinterest Analytics to gauge the performance of our Promoted Pin efforts. The only downsides for now are that we’ll need to use credit card rather than invoicing for our payment method, and won’t be subjected to the vague ad guidelines that come along with a Pinterest Ad API partner.


Pinterest advertising is most exciting for one reason: the Promoted Pins have no half-life. That’s the beauty of Pinterest; in theory, things only gain steam over time with more repins and likes. The is the biggest positive differentiation from Facebook and Twitter advertising.

Another key difference of Pinterest advertising is the fact that it is keyword-based and matched to some level of intent. Facebook is really a people-based marketing approach, trying to put your brand in front of the right people who could have no intent.

Interest piqued? Pinterest provides more helpful deets  (including creative best practices, targeting best practices, etc.), here.

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Brad O'Brien
Brad joined 3Q as Director of Social after spending several years on the brand side at Provide Commerce & FTD companies. Brad has a strong background in Social, SEO, e-commerce, landing page and test optimizations, analytics, as well as production and promotion of digital content. Originally from New Jersey, Brad went to college in Virginia at James Madison University and received a degree in Marketing. He has called San Diego home for the last seven years, and also works out of San Diego. Brad enjoys surfing, being outdoors, music festivals, traveling, cooking, and spending time with his dog Duke.