Pinterest Opens Up to Brands With New Ways to Plan Posts and Buy Ads

New programs make promoting pins easier

Pinterest is making advertising more accessible with new software for ad-tech companies and their brands. Today, the social bulletin-board site revealed that it built its first ads API for tech partners. It's also launching a marketing program to help brands increase the amount of unpaid posts.

The two programs should inject some tech-powered intelligence into how brands use Pinterest. For instance, the new marketing program's partners could build tools that make posting more efficient and provide better measurement about what works and when. Paid advertisers will be able automate the buying of Promoted Pins in a new programmatic system.

The Marketing Developer Partners include Percolate, Sprinklr, Spredfast, Curalate, Ahalogy, Buffer, Expion, Newscred, Shoutlet and Tailwind, Pinterest said in its announcement today. The developer program follows Pinterest's first-generation marketing program, which opened last year to a number of third-party tech companies that provide social media analytics.

Pinterest did not announce which partners are involved in testing the ads API.

"These are platforms that help businesses manage their organic presence on social media and now they can manage their organic presence on Pinterest," said Jyri Kidwell, Pinterest's head of marketing developer partnerships.

Brands use the marketing tech companies to control their messages across social media from Instagram to LinkedIn. The marketing platforms help create the posts, schedule them, handle content rights, engage followers and track performance.

Pinterest's new ad software offers brands similar capabilities only with paid posts, and puts Pinterest ad inventory in front of more brands already using software to buy on other social media sites.

Ahalogy works with Kraft, and Percolate works with Dove and Hellmann's, for instance. "They'll get better results because they have better optimization tools to work with," Kidwell said.

This technology is another important step for Pinterest, which only started selling Promoted Pins about a year ago. The software upgrade helps grow the amount of advertisers that can participate now that there's more automation and sophistication.

There are 50 billion Pins on the site, and two-thirds are considered branded content of one form or another, posted by brands and the users who like their products, according to Pinterest.

Pinterest is considered a Google rival because of how close its users are to making purchasing decisions–they post pictures, recipes, wish lists and all kinds of content that could help brands discover what consumers want.

Advertisers compete in auctions to buy ads against keywords and key categories, similar to how Google search ads are bought. For example, brand could pay for placement in front of a Pinterest user searching for "healthy dinner recipes" or "modern furniture" or "winter travel."

Pinterest is considered a niche but powerful site and has almost 50 million active users, according to estimates. It also has been developing new formats for ads, including animated Promoted Pins, which are currently being tested, the company said.