Is Pinterest a Good Advertising Vehicle for Your Business?

With more than 150 million monthly active users, Pinterest is one of the world’s most trafficked social networks. The “visual bookmarking” platform enables users to discover, share and save creative ideas from all over the web, functioning as a virtual pin board of images that inspire and/or interest (pin + interest = Pinterest).

Pinterest advertising

For brands looking to drive awareness or sales leads, advertising on Pinterest represents a major potential opportunity. Between the site’s high traffic volume and eCommerce-focused nature, Pinterest ads—­also known as “Promoted Pins”—can reach targeted audiences who are already engaged in the sales process.

Think Pinterest might be a good advertising vehicle for your business? The following post breaks down everything you need to know about Promoted Pins—including the types of campaigns available, targeting options, pricing and measurement.

How do Promoted Pins work?

Promoted Pins are native advertising units that look like user-generated Pins but are “boosted” to reach more people (and yes, your organization must have a Pinterest account to launch Promoted Pins). Like all other content on Pinterest, Promoted Pins are searchable, meaning that you can reach people who are searching for things related to your business. Promoted Pins can be used to drive brand awareness, engagement or traffic to your website. Here’s a quick summary:

pinterest chart

Always keep in mind that you must choose a single objective for each campaign launched via Pinterest. To put it simply, Pinterest’s algorithm cannot optimize a single campaign for both awareness and traffic. For more on this topic, see the post “Single Objective Required” by my team member, Emily Eller.

What targeting capabilities does Pinterest offer?

Users can be targeted based on location, language, device and gender criteria. Interest, keyword and/or audience criteria can be used to target audiences further:  

  • Interest targeting is used to reach people based on their affinity for specific things (e.g. travel, healthy recipes). Your Promoted Pin will be served to users in their home and category feeds.
  • Keyword targeting is used to reach people based on what they are proactively searching on Pinterest. Your Promoted Pin will be served to users in relevant search results and related Pins.
  • Audience targeting is used to reach people who who have visited or taken certain actions on your website; a specific list of people (e.g. email addresses you upload); people who have engaged with Pins associated with your website; or people whose behavior resembles that of an existing audience. Audience behavior tracking outside of Pinterest (i.e. user actions on your website) is made possible through the use of pixeling, which involves programming a small snippet of code on the backend of your website.

How much does Pinterest advertising cost?

Similar to Facebook and Twitter, advertising on Pinterest via Promoted Pins is based on a bid system: you must compete for audience share with other advertisers who are using similar targeting.

For awareness campaigns, you set a maximum bid amount for every 1,000 impressions served (cost-per-thousand, or CPM). For engagement and traffic campaigns, you set a maximum bid amount for each click (cost-per-click, or CPC). Then, you decide how much you want to spend each day for each campaign—you’ll never spend more than the daily budget you set for it.

How do I measure the performance of my Promoted Pins?

Pinterest’s built-in analytics tools make tracking the impact of Promoted Pins simple. For any given date range, Pinterest can provide data on impressions, clicks, repins and click-through-rate (CTR). For certain types of audience targeting (e.g. remarketing), more advanced conversion metrics are available.

The metrics for Promoted Pins (paid) can be compared to metrics for Pins that are not being promoted (organic). Monitoring engagement on your Promoted Pins can also help you learn important insights about your audience—from what kinds of things they’re interested in to the other businesses they engage with.


Promoted Pins can be a powerful marketing tool, particularly if your business is focused on awareness and/or sales leads. Don’t forget that quality content matters on Pinterest; it may not be a “plug and play” channel, but the potential audience reach—coupled with the platform’s targeting abilities—are well worth the effort.  

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