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

Updated Jul 31, 2023

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When formulating a paid content promotion plan, you may consider the more prominent digital media platforms. For example, you may utilize Facebook marketing tools, Instagram posts or a Google Ads campaign. But there are also compelling reasons to consider advertising on Pinterest.

Pinterest has a highly active and targeted user base, and Pinterest ads can often lead directly to purchases. Although it has unique requirements and restrictions, Pinterest advertising can become an essential part of your marketing plan with some knowledge and planning.

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 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 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 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 (free to set up) and a Pinterest account manager.
  • Collection ads: Great for e-commerce brands in the fashion, home decor, and beauty industries, these ads consist of a large featured video or image and three supporting images. If a user clicks on an ad, it can display up to 24 images on the ad detail page, exposing a potential customer to your product line. Pinterest can create this ad, 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 the platform deems to be 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 price, stock availability, name and description. They update in real time as your website updates. 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 additional code to your website for this to work.
Did You Know?Did you know

In addition to Pinterest, other social media sites that are best for visual content are YouTube, Facebook and Instagram.

Benefits of advertising on Pinterest

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

  1. It’s all about discovery. While Facebook’s primary goal is to connect with others and 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.
  2. Users have an open mind. With Google, users often type in the name of a company or brand when searching. 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 competitive playing field.
  3. It’s cost-effective. Pinterest ads generate an ROI that’s twice that of other digital platforms and are 2.3 times cheaper. According to WebFX, the average cost per click on Pinterest was $1.50, compared to $5.26 for LinkedIn, $3.56 on Instagram and $3.21 on YouTube. Facebook was less, at 97 cents; however, Pinterest makes up for it in effectiveness. Half of Pinterest users say they have purchased an item after seeing a promoted pin (Pinterest ad) for it.
  4. It has a huge audience. More than 478 million people use Pinterest each month, about half of them in the United States. If your audience is women, you are likely to find them on Pinterest, as more than 77% of Pinterest users are female, and the biggest demographic (30.4% of users) is women ages 25 to 34. Pinterest users also have money to spend: According to Pinterest’s demographics data, 45% of people in the U.S. with an annual household income over $100,000 are on Pinterest.

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 variations, including varied imagery, photos with text or without, 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. Use CTAs in the description.

Pinterest allows you to use direct calls to action (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. Use relevant keywords.

The platform allows you to associate up to 150 keywords per promoted pin, but that doesn’t mean you have to use that many. Most users 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 rates, and result in wasted ad spend.

4. Use targeted audiences.

While not as advanced as those on some other social platforms, Pinterest’s targeting options 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 most likely to convert.

5. Bid aggressively.

Since you pay for clicks only, it’s not a bad idea to bid a little more when you first start so that you can see your return. You’ll be able to 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 different options to optimize your clicks and conversions.

Did You Know?Did 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 use CTAs in the image.

While you can get away with 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, “check one more thing off your list” or “make today matter.” You’ll want to be careful here because if it’s too upfront, 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 Pinterest won’t approve your pin. Its guidelines explain that the platform values the idea that when users click on a pin, they can find the information they’re looking for without putting in their personal information. Instead of a landing page, try sending them to a blog post where the landing page is easily accessible.

3. Don’t use horizontal images.

The way Pinterest is designed 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 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, they may shut down your pin. The goal is to make the user experience as smooth and easy to understand as possible; 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 seeing them in ads. They look spammy, and since you can add keywords to your campaigns, you shouldn’t need them. 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.

How Pinterest can be an effective part of your marketing campaign

Pinterest advertising isn’t yet as pervasive as advertising on Facebook and Twitter, but the platform has seen exponential growth and may be an untapped space for brands seeking new audiences interested in specific contact types.

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 its users, but by utilizing effective Pinterest advertising strategies and tactics, you can drive qualified leads to your site.

Pinterest do’sPinterest don’ts
Do continually adjust your campaigns.Don’t use CTAs in the image.
Do use CTAs in the description.Don’t use a “hard wall” landing page.
Do use relevant keywords.Don’t use horizontal images.
Do use targeted audiences.Don’t use redirect links.
Do bid aggressively.Don’t use hashtags.

Greg Shuey contributed to the writing and research in this article.

Jennifer Dublino
Contributing Writer at
Jennifer Dublino is a prolific researcher, writer, and editor, specializing in topical, engaging, and informative content. She has written numerous e-books, slideshows, websites, landing pages, sales pages, email campaigns, blog posts, press releases and thought leadership articles. Topics include consumer financial services, home buying and finance, general business topics, health and wellness, neuroscience and neuromarketing, and B2B industrial products.
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