Here’s some exciting news for marketers: Pinterest—the social media behemoth and online tool “for discovering things you love and doing those things in real life”—has announced that it will start selling ads in the form of Promoted Pins beginning this Thursday, Jan. 1.

The decision comes at the end of a successful test run for the Promoted Pins program, during which a handful of participating marketers were able to engage in Pinterest-style native advertising—similar to how Sponsored Posts function on Facebook and Promoted Tweets work on Twitter. The idea is that the ads blend in better with a social media network’s regular content, and so are more effective than, say banner ads (which are so easy to tune out). This form of native advertising also happens to be an excellent fit for smart phones, which is how the vast majority of Pinterest users (more than 90% according to comScore) engage with the site. Compare that to Facebook’s mobile audience, which is 68%, and Twitter’s, which is almost as high as Pinterest’s but not quite, at 86%.

If you are a U.S.-based business interested in the Promoted Pins program, click here. For tips on how to best use Promoted Pins, read this piece by Cynthia Sanchez. And here’s the link to Pinterest’s own guide to how to make your business Pinterest-friendly.

The company has set up some rules in an effort to avoid tainting the user experience in any way. (The last thing you’d want to do is confuse, alienate or annoy your target audience, right?) To wit: Pinterest requires that all Promoted Pins begin as ordinary pins that live on the advertiser’s own board. No price promotions or contests allowed.

Read the New York Times’ take on this new development here.  For a even deeper understanding of Pinterest’s place in the social media sphere—and what it all means for marketers—read this excellent Forbes article. The piece really gets into the meat of it, providing some highly useful context while tracing Pinterest’s back story and meteoric rise. The headline says it all: Inside Pinterest: The Coming Ad Colossus That Could Dwarf Twitter And Facebook.

As the Forbes story points out, a logical next step for Pinterest would be an e-commerce play.  Since it launched in March 2010, Pinterest’s users have created more than 750 million boards made up of more than 30 billion individual pins, with 54 million new ones added each day; its press page boasts that it has helped “millions of people pick up new hobbies, find their style and plan life’s important projects.” Only Facebook drives more traffic on the Web.

No time frame for such a thing has been announced though. In the meantime, Pinterest is offering a new opportunity for advertisers to get their brands noticed in a different way—namely, from within a massively popular social network where millions are discovering new things they didn’t even know they wanted every day. While Facebook markets nostalgia for the past, and Twitter stays fixated on the present, Pinterest emphasizes the future—it’s all about aspiration, and inspiration. If Pinterest can help marketers reach consumers during that dreaming/planning phase—about an upcoming trip, or wedding or home renovation or whatever—that’s a very fertile place to be.

Leave a Comment