Here’s What You Need to Know About Pinterest’s Promoted Pins

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The first reports on Pinterest’s entry into paid media territory came way back in September, yet the “Promoted Pins” rollout has been more of a slow dribble. While first adopter Four Seasons received some press, for the most part all related stories have been teases designed to leave brands salivating at the potential.

Even a recent Wall Street Journal story calling the project an effort to “reinvent online advertising” noted that, while investors are convinced that Pinterest will prove profitable:

“The company declines to comment on precise timing, costs of the ads or who the first marketers will be.”

Vague enough for you? We recently spoke to Eric Schiffer, CEO of, for his take on what to make of this newest attempt to monetize social.

What have we learned about sponsored pins since Pinterest first made the announcement? Have test clients shared any of their findings?

Details surrounding sponsored pins are being kept hush-hush as the program is still in beta testing. Only a few advertisers were used, but the budget for each was between $1-2 million, not an insignificant spend by any stretch. There are four we know about – Hellman’s, the Four Seasons, TRESemmé, and Wayfair – and all are satisfied with their investment.


Let’s play “spot the sponsor”

How well-targeted will these ads be?

There’s a reason the company is valued at $3.8 billion despite zero revenue thus far: the amount of data available is staggering.

A marketer could theoretically target a single person from the 40 million strong user base if he/she really wanted to. It depends on what works best for them.

How will marketers measure ROI for clients who decide to pay for Promoted Pins beyond sales bumps tied directly to clicks?

There is certainly a non-monetary ROI benefit to Promoted Pins.

They’re likely to lead to a “rising tide lifts all boats” effect where a brand’s other social media profiles will benefit as well. If you build brand awareness, they will come.

A customer who comes to trust your brand will come back later when they’re through the awareness, research and comparison stages of the marketing cycle and are arriving at a decision.

How can we decide which clients would benefit from this product?

Pinterest’s 40 million users are primarily women, so for now fashion and lifestyle brands will benefit the most–especially those that are niche-specific or may not have a huge budget to spend on search or traditional media.

Eventually, all brands stand to benefit since Pinterest is a great way to bring attention to yourself in a creative, visual fashion, allowing people to discover products on their own without having to compete for rankings or media slots.

Given the termination of Facebook’s sponsored posts and the debatable value of sponsored tweets, how will Pinterest’s monetization plans differ from those of the larger networks?

Unlike Facebook and Twitter, where copy is king, Pinterest is visual. It’s where people go to share creative images and keep wish lists for their homes and future vacations.

There’s a very real possibility that Pinterest will outshine the rest since Promoted Pins will allow pictures and items to be seen by a target market that is much more likely to be surfing for shopping ideas.


Here’s the company’s own vision of sponsored content

Could this new feature be relevant to PR as well as marketing? Could, for example, a client use Promoted Pins as part of a larger messaging campaign?

Yes. It’s not just about advertising products.

In fact, Pinterest insists that Promoted Pins fit in with the rest of the website and don’t look like a blatant ad. It’s about presenting the company as a lifestyle brand. Promoted Pins will be able to display your branding message to a more tailored audience.

Which companies have made the best use of Pinterest so far?

Etsy is simply killing it on Pinterest. Look at Sassy Steals, which utilized the Pinterest model to build its incredible online presence.

In terms of followers, comments, likes, and re-pins, L.L. Bean, Whole Foods, Nordstrom, Jetsetter, and the U.S. Marines are doing very well. From a creative standpoint, Swarovski and Better Homes and Gardens are up there as well.

What are some important things that PR might not know about Pinterest?

Pinterest is not just for pictures.

You can also pin videos, which are a great way to promote a company’s story, share interviews with the media, commercials, and more. Promoted Pins can be used to increase viewership for these clips as well.

Also: take a look into the recently-launched gifts feed, which will allow customers to sort products by price and notify them when a product they previously pinned has dropped in price.

So are we excited about Promoted Pins? What else do we need to know?

@PatrickCoffee Patrick Coffee is a senior editor for Adweek.
Publish date: April 4, 2014 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT