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Updated Feb 28, 2024

Pin It to Win It: The Do’s and Don’ts of Advertising on Pinterest

Pinterest has an active and dedicated user base. Here's how to tap into it through ad campaigns.

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Jennifer Dublino, Senior Writer & Expert on Business Operations
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Table of Contents

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Maybe you’ve already included Facebook marketing tools, Instagram posts or a Google Ads campaign in your marketing plan. But did you know there are compelling reasons to consider advertising on Pinterest as well?

Pinterest has a highly active and targeted user base, and because this platform is a popular destination for shoppers, ads on Pinterest often lead directly to purchases. We’ll take an in-depth look at Pinterest’s advertising options and how a Pinterest ad campaign can benefit your digital marketing strategy.

What is Pinterest?

Pinterest is a visual social media platform where users browse images and videos related to their interests. When they find compelling images, they can save them on digital bulletin boards organized by topic. Saved images or videos are called pins.

Many of the images and videos are from blogs, with Pinterest ads typically linking to e-commerce websites. Users can keep these Pinterest boards for the images or click through to the websites to learn more about the topic. Users see each other’s boards and pins and can follow one another if they like the other person’s choice of pins.

These are some of the most popular categories searched on Pinterest: 

  • Food and drink 
  • Home and decor
  • Travel
  • Health and fitness
  • Women’s fashion
  • Hair and beauty
  • DIY and crafts
  • Entertainment
  • Weddings
  • Holidays and events
Did You Know?Did you know
Pinterest users utilize the platform for both inspiration and shopping. In fact, 85 percent have seen a pin from a brand and made a purchase as a result, according to the U.S. Pinterest Media Agency Advertising Guide.

What are promoted pins?

If you scroll through Pinterest, you may notice various types of pins, including pins from people you know and suggested pins.

Promoted pins are another pin type. They’re essentially paid Pinterest ads that target specific demographics, locations, keywords, devices and more, helping brands increase visibility, boost traffic to their blogs and drive sales.

What are Pinterest’s other advertising options?

In addition to promoted pins, Pinterest has introduced more advertising options.

  • Idea pins: Idea pins are short videos or a series of up to 20 graphics or images designed to demonstrate something. They are similar in format to Instagram Stories, but they give you more ways to convert viewers into potential customers, including user tagging, interactive stickers, topic hashtags and detail pages. To create an Idea ad with a paid sponsorship, a creator must tag an advertiser as a “business partner.” The brand can then promote the Idea pin.
  • Try-on-product pins: Through augmented reality, these pins let a user try on cosmetics and accessories via their smartphone’s camera. For this pin type, you’ll need an uploaded product catalog, a Pinterest business account (which is free to set up) and a Pinterest account manager.
  • Collection ads: Great for e-commerce brands in the fashion, home decor and beauty industries, collection ads consist of a large featured video or image and three supporting images. If a user clicks an ad, it can display up to 24 images on the ad detail page, thereby exposing a potential customer to your product line. Pinterest can create this ad by choosing related products from your uploaded product catalog.
  • Carousel ads: These look like regular pins, but users can swipe through up to five images per ad. If the user pins your ad, all images are saved to their board. They can show related items or one item being used or worn differently.
  • Shopping ads: These ads pull from your catalog and display a single image to the audience that Pinterest deems most interested in that particular product. Many e-commerce platforms, such as Shopify, integrate directly with this feature.
  • Product-rich pins: These pins pull and display detailed information from your website, including prices, stock availability, names and descriptions. They update in real time with your website. Another nice feature is that this pin shows up in the Shop tab of Pinterest search results, giving your products more exposure. You will need to add some rich meta tags to your website for this to work.
TipBottom line
In addition to Pinterest, the other social media sites that are best for visual content are YouTube, Facebook and Instagram.

The do’s of advertising on Pinterest

To maximize your Pinterest advertising investment, consider the following best practices.

1. Continually adjust your campaigns.

Pinterest is a visually driven site, and you never know which images will resonate with your audience unless you try a variety. Once you get your campaigns running, don’t just leave them there. Test out different versions, including varied imagery, photos with or without text, new keywords, higher or lower bids, and new audiences.

Eventually, you’ll find that sweet spot where you’re getting exactly the return you want.

2. Include calls to action (CTAs) in the description.

Pinterest allows you to use direct CTAs in a pin’s description, so something like “Sign up today” or “Download the free guide” will work. However, don’t be too “salesy,” or your pin won’t get clicks. Users come to Pinterest for appealing imagery and creative ideas, not to be slammed with advertisements.

3. Add relevant keywords.

Pinterest allows you to associate up to 150 keywords per promoted pin, but that doesn’t mean you have to use that many. Most experts recommend adding at least 30 keywords and, of course, ensuring they’re relevant to your pin and the page where users will land if they click. Targeting irrelevant keywords will hurt your click-through rate and conversion rate, and result in wasted ad spend.

4. Use targeted audiences.

Although Pinterest’s targeting options are not as advanced as those on some other social platforms, they allow you to show pins to users based on their location, device, gender and language. Take advantage of these different audiences, and send your pins to the right users at the right time. Together with the keywords you set up, you’ll be able to appear to the people who are most likely to convert.

5. Bid aggressively.

Because you pay only for clicks, it’s not a bad idea to bid a little more when you first start so you can see your return. You’ll start with a higher number of conversions, which could increase your ad’s relevance even when you do lower the bid. Experiment with a few options to optimize your clicks and conversions.

FYIDid you know
Social media marketing can boost brand awareness, generate more leads and help you develop a personal relationship with customers.

The don’ts of advertising on Pinterest

Along with Pinterest advertising best practices, you need to be aware of what not to do when advertising on Pinterest.

1. Don’t include CTAs in the image.

Although you can use direct CTAs in the description, they’re not allowed in the image. However, you can include a “soft” CTA as an overlay on the photo. For example, you could write, “Check one more thing off your list” or “Make today matter.” You’ll want to be careful here, because if it’s too direct, Pinterest might not approve your pin.

2. Don’t use a “hard wall” landing page.

It’s tempting to send users to a landing page where they will convert, but if you do, Pinterest won’t approve your pin. The platform’s guidelines explain that Pinterest values the idea that when users click a pin, they can find the information they’re looking for without entering their personal information. Instead, try sending them to a blog post where the landing page is easily accessible.

3. Don’t add horizontal images.

Pinterest’s design almost guarantees that if you use a horizontal or landscape image, it will never be seen. Long, vertical images are suited to the platform’s design, so the longer, the better. Ensure that users won’t have to scroll down to see the whole thing. Upload colorful, eye-catching photos that communicate a message of what users can expect if they click.

4. Don’t use redirect links.

If Pinterest detects that you’re sending users to a page that redirects, your pin may be shut down. The goal is to make the user experience smooth and easy to understand, and redirects interrupt the flow when someone clicks. Check the URL before you order your ad, and ensure you have a direct path to where you want consumers to arrive.

5. Don’t use hashtags.

Even though hashtags are allowed on Pinterest, the platform isn’t a huge fan of them in ads. They look spammy, and because you can add keywords to your campaigns, you shouldn’t need hashtags. Pinterest will let you have a few, so it shouldn’t be a problem if you want to add your company’s specific hashtag or promote one with your campaign.

Pinterest do’s

Pinterest don’ts

Do continually adjust your campaigns.

Don’t include CTAs in the image.

Do include CTAs in the description.

Don’t use a “hard wall” landing page.

Do add relevant keywords.

Don’t add horizontal images.

Do use targeted audiences.

Don’t use redirect links.

Do bid aggressively.

Don’t use hashtags.

Benefits of advertising on Pinterest

Pinterest offers some distinct benefits for brands that use the platform as part of their marketing plan.

  • It’s all about discovery. Whereas Facebook’s primary goal is to connect with others and X (formerly Twitter) is used primarily to make short comments, Pinterest is made for people to discover new products and ideas. It’s like a combination of a visual search engine and a digital bulletin board. For this reason, users are more receptive to advertising than users on other types of social media are.
  • Users have an open mind. When searching on Google, users often type in the name of a company or brand. In contrast, according to Hootsuite, nearly all Pinterest searches are unbranded. This means more opportunity for smaller and lesser-known brands to generate attention and interest on a relatively even playing field.
  • It’s cost-effective. The return on investment for Pinterest ads is twice that of other digital platforms, Pinterest reported. According to AdRoll, the average cost per click on Pinterest was 10 cents to $1.50, compared with $5.26 for LinkedIn, 20 cents to $2 on Instagram, and $1 on TikTok. Facebook was less, at 44 cents, but Pinterest makes up for it in effectiveness.
  • It has a huge audience. More than 498 million people use Pinterest each month, and over 38 percent of them are in the United States, Statista reported. If your audience is women, you are likely to find them on Pinterest, because they make up more than 76.2 percent of Pinterest’s user base, according to Statista; the biggest demographic (28.5 percent of users) is women ages 25 to 34. 

How Pinterest can be an effective part of your marketing campaign

Although Pinterest isn’t the most popular social media platform for advertising, it has seen big growth and may be an untapped space for brands that are seeking new audiences. Pinterest’s user base will continue to grow as the platform expands, introduces new features, and improves its capabilities for both advertisers and users.

The nuances of Pinterest advertising require an eye for design and an understanding of the platform’s users, but by utilizing effective Pinterest advertising strategies and tactics, you can drive qualified leads to your site.

Greg Shuey contributed to this article.

author image
Jennifer Dublino, Senior Writer & Expert on Business Operations
Jennifer Dublino is an experienced entrepreneur and astute marketing strategist. With over three decades of industry experience, she has been a guiding force for many businesses, offering invaluable expertise in market research, strategic planning, budget allocation, lead generation and beyond. Earlier in her career, Dublino established, nurtured and successfully sold her own marketing firm. Dublino, who has a bachelor's degree in business administration and an MBA in marketing and finance, also served as the chief operating officer of the Scent Marketing Institute, showcasing her ability to navigate diverse sectors within the marketing landscape. Over the years, Dublino has amassed a comprehensive understanding of business operations across a wide array of areas, ranging from credit card processing to compensation management. Her insights and expertise have earned her recognition, with her contributions quoted in reputable publications such as Reuters, Adweek, AdAge and others.
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