Marketing Land unearthed some interesting and really important bits of Pinterest’s terms of service. It turns out shortened URLs are not allowed in the descriptive text that accompanies images on the site.
Pinterest has become prominent in large part because it pushes a lot of traffic out from user boards to other websites, and many of those visitors are in a buying frame of mind. But there are flaws in the digital bulletin board’s referral pipeline.
Users who click on a photo are often, depending on how the original website is formatted, sent to the URL that hosts the image; not one that hosts it and related content. So many publishers stick shortened URLs to the content in the image description. (Standard URLs work fine, but shortened URLs look better.)
There’s the rub. Pinterest doesn’t trust shortened URLs, because hackers sometimes use them to conceal where they are sending users. So when users click on the shortened URLs, they are taken to a warning from Pinterest.
In other words, in some circumstances, users get either just an image or a generic warning page. Users facing these outcomes are likely not to click through again to land, finally, on the promoted content.
Pinterest told Marketing Land that domains that have custom URL shorteners can ask the platform to whitelist them so that users will no longer see a warning page. The New York Times has a custom shortened URL, for example. A standard URL shortens to one that begins “nyti.ms”.
The takeaway: Follow the links on content you’ve shared to Pinterest to see what your users are dealing with. If you find a warning page, you have two options: (1) Use the standard URL instead, or (2) set up a custom URL shortener and ask Pinterest support to white-list it.