Your Guide to Success with Pinterest Ads

Are you ready to start using Promoted Pins and watch your business soar? Don't worry if you aren't familiar with Pinterest Ads (aka Promoted Pins) yet. This guide to Pinterest advertising will take you through the process of setting up successful Pinterest Ad (Promoted Pin) campaigns.

We'll dive in to the differences between Pinterest ad formats and provide a step-by-step guide on how to advertise on Pinterest.  

What are Pinterest ads?

Pinterest Ads are much like any other Pins, except they've been sponsored to receive extra exposure in relevant search results.

Pinterest Business account holders can choose to promote existing best-performing pins, create a new image or video, or even promote an image that's been pinned from a website.

Once an ad is set up in Pinterest Ads Manager, it appears in users' Home feeds and relevant search results. 

So how does Pinterest decide which ads to display in a user's Home feed?

This is primarily based on a user's historical activity.

For example, if a user regularly searches for home improvement inspiration, it's likely that ads related to this topic will show up in their feed. 

Pinterest Ads can also target by demographics such as the age and location of potential customers, as well as categories and interests, so you can zoom in on the right audience for your brand.

Pinterest ads offer highly effective ways to drive traffic, increase conversions, and boost brand awareness!

Are you ready to take a look at Pinterest marketing strategies? We've got you covered with our complete guide to using Pinterest ads for business. 

Pinterest is a discovery platform.

Almost all searches on Pinterest are unbranded, which means it is highly likely a potential customer on the site will be open to new ideas and products. In fact, 73 percent of Pinners say content from brands makes Pinterest more useful.

Take a moment and consider being able to combine the best aspects of an online search engine - with visual imagery - and social media advertising:

A way to have your ads shown to users who are actively searching for products like yours, along with the ability to promote your products to users browsing through their feed.

That's essentially what you get with the Pinterest advertising system and Promoted Pins.

When you take a good look at Pinterest's selling power, it's easy to see why so many well-known brands are increasingly coming to the site to run ad campaigns.

Are Promoted Pins effective?

Pinterest ads very effective for businesses with products and services that are a good fit for the platform.

Keep in mind, however, that organic content on Pinterest also offers a lot of sales potential. And guess what, once your promoted pin campaign comes to a close, these Pins keep attracting viewers and helping to make sales. 

93% of pinners say they use the site to make purchasing plans and research products, and 40% of users have a household income of more than $75K, so they have quite a bit of spending power.

Key data from Pinterest: 

1 out of 2 Pinterest users have made a purchase after seeing a Pinterest Ad

67% of users discovered a new brand or product as a result of Promoted Pins

Promoted Pins typically earn $2 in profit for every $1 spent in ad costs. However, your own results will vary depending on your products, your target audience, and how you approach Pinterest advertising

But first, a quick look at how Pinterest works

If you're new to the world of Pinterest, you might not know exactly how the social media platform works.

Pinterest describes itself as a ‘bookmarking website.' This means people can ‘Pin' whatever they have made or found on the web onto their Pinterest ‘Boards.' Pinterest then offers a way to share their ‘bookmarks,' or just as a way of saving things for later reference.

People in search of new content on Pinterest use the search bar to see what other people are bookmarking.

Because of its collaborative nature, 96% of Pinterest users use Pinterest to research what they're buying.

On top of that, 87% of people report Pinterest helped them to decide what to purchase – meaning they acted upon information they discovered on the site.

80% of U.S. mothers who use the internet also use Pinterest. Think about that for a moment or two if you have a product for the family and home. While females comprise 70% of Pinterest users, the number of men coming on the site is growing. 

Why you should use Pinterest ads

Pinterest is more than a social media platform - it's more like a powerful search engine, like Google. Combine this technology with compelling visuals and you have a business growing powerhouse. On most social media sites, users simply connect with each other and share content.

On Pinterest, users search for inspiration and create boards they can revisit later with pinned content that interests them.

Since Pinterest ads appear as Promoted Pins Pins that are sponsored by a company, it's easier for users to discover and buy the products they aspire to have.

Here's a regular pin: GRAPHIC

Here's a Promoted Pin: GRAPHIC 

The difference is Promoted Pins mention the brand sponsoring the product and links to a sales page while regular Pins don't.

But before you can unlock the power of Pinterest ads, it's important to understand why these ads need to be part of your advertising strategy.

Since launching in 2010, Pinterest has steadily grown to become the third most popular social platform in the U.S. for adults. It was originally set up to replace physical scrapbooks and corkboards with digital boards that allowed users to save content from across the web.

Pinterest has evolved into a place for users to create elaborate wish lists and for brands to showcase their products and make buying products simple and easy.

The Pinterest Difference

With over 450 million active monthly users on the platform, there's no denying that Pinterest has become a hub for businesses to connect directly with their audience.

Here are some key reasons why you need to include Pinterest in your advertising strategy or risk missing out on skyrocketing your customer acquisition:

  • Pinterest grew by 100 million active users in 2020 alone. That's significant growth. Their international reach grew 46% and the US monthly active users grew by 11% to reach just shy of 100 million. 
  • Users are motivated to buy. Fifty percent of people buy products after they see a Promoted Pin.
  • There's access to a larger market segment. 80% of people discover new brands and products while browsing Pinterest.
  • Users have more disposable income. 35% of users make more than $75,000 per year.
  • Active users spend a lot of time pinning. The longer users are on the platform, the better your chances of getting exposure and acquiring new customers.
  • Active users spend an average of 34 minutes using the site, which is much more than Facebook, Instagram, and even Twitter.
  • Users use Pinterest as a shopping guide. Ninety-three percent of users use Pinterest to plan what they'll buy. Plus, Pinterest is the top shopping platform for millennials.

Understanding the Pinterest Audience 

When you know who your audience is, to a very detailed level, you'll have a better understanding of what images to create and how to populate your Pinterest profile and Boards.

You also have a better sense as to what kind of messaging to use within your description.

Before we look at creating an online ad campaign on Pinterest, it's worth first considering the kind of audience your business caters to and how Pinterest might work for your content marketing strategy.

If you look at the stats, you'll find that the majority of the audience within Pinterest is female. The overall skew is close to 60/40, but  that number tops 75% when it comes to ad related activity. Men are also rapidly discovering the site though, with a substantial 50% increase in 2020. 

82% of people on Pinterest use mobile. 

45% of people in the U.S. with household incomes over $100K are on Pinterest. 

Add that to the fact that there are over 2 billion searches on Pinterest every month and 50% of Pinterest users have shopping as their top priority.

Why use Pinterest ads?

Pinterest ads offer marketers the chance to earn awareness and consideration from Pinterest's 450 million users early in their consumer journeys.

Connecting early works to your benefit: 98 percent of Pinners say they've tried new things they found on Pinterest, versus 71 percent on other social media platforms.

Beyond driving awareness, brands using Pinterest ads' targeting capabilities see results.

More than half of Pinterest's users have made a purchase after seeing business content on the site.

And Pinners spend 29 percent more than non-Pinners, delivering an average of $2 in profit for every advertiser dollar.

With that in mind, it's time to take a good look at the potential of advertising on Pinterest for your business. 

How do Promoted Pins work?

Promoted Pins run on an auction system, like many other pay-per-click systems. Advertisers select a Promoted Pin, choose an objective they want to accomplish, and enter targeting criteria.

You place “bids” on having ads shown to your target audience, and the best bid wins the placement.

Promoted Pins work in two different ways:

1. Your ads can be shown to users who are browsing on Pinterest

Your ad would either be shown to users who are browsing categories that your Promoted Pin belongs to, or in the feeds of users that Pinterest believes would be interested in your product.

This interest is usually based on past behavior on the platform, including the Pins they've saved, though advertisers can target specific users based on things like email lists or recent site visits.

2. Your Promoted Pins can also appear in search results on Pinterest

If someone is searching for “picture frames” and you happen to sell those, your ad could appear in their search results.

First things first: Set up your Business Account.

Don't try to run any ads before setting up your business account! If you are brand new to Pinterest ads, you will need a business account and install the Pinterest Tag.

Once that’s done, you will be able to access the business dashboard and then follow these steps to create your Pinterest campaigns.

Click on the link that says ‘Convert now' and convert your Pinterest account to a business account. Then enter in all of the relevant information.

Once you have done that, you should then see the following page.

GRAPHIC?

Connecting Your Website to Pinterest Analytics

Pinterest can now provide analytics based on how people are ‘Pinning' items on your website.

As you might have guessed, this can provide some valuable information as to who exactly your target audience is.

If you want to gather information this way, you'll need to click on the ‘track what works' section. The ‘track what works' section requires you to place some code on your site.

If you have not linked your website to Pinterest yet, follow the instructions in the dialog box and click on ‘account settings.' Then scroll down the page until you see ‘Website' and enter in the URL of your site.

You'll then need to click on ‘Confirm website.' And then the following will appear:

GRAPHIC

You can see that in order to confirm your website, you'll need to take that line of code and install it on your site. 

It isn't difficult and Pinterest has a help page to walk you through the process: https://help.pinterest.com/en/business/article/claim-your-website

Once the code is installed on your site, click on ‘Save Settings.' Once done, Pinterest will be able to collect data based on how people are ‘Pinning' items from your site.

The ‘Your Pinterest profile,' and ‘Your audience' sections will give you a brief overview of how much attention you're attracting on the platform.

Once you confirm your website, you'll also be able to view a section known as ‘Activity from your website.' This section will provide similar information, but this time from the perspective of your website.

The section at the bottom, known as ‘Top Pin impressions' will provide you with an overall view of how people are interacting with your content.

This kind of information is very helpful when it comes to promoting some of your own Pins.

There is even more interesting data to be found within the ‘Your Audience,' tab. Here you'll find analytics about who exactly is interacting with your content.

You can use this information when you're creating your ads, to help make certain they're shown to the right people.

The ‘interests' section can also be used to inform your targeting when creating an online ad. You'll now be able to work out what your audience is into and the kinds of businesses that your audience engages with.

Your First Pinterest Ad Campaign

There are a couple of key steps to take when you look to create your first ad:

Before anything else, make sure your site has Pinterest tags working 100%. (Use the Chrome Pinterest Tag Helper extension to verify your tags.)

You are able to re-target a visitor at a later stage when you use event codes on your website. This is most likely where conversions will happen!

So now let's get ready to walk through the process of getting your ad campaign set up the right way. Once your account is ready to go, it is time to set up your first campaign.

This will be your test campaign to learn more about your audience and what makes them "click." Literally.

To start, I recommend creating one campaign with two ad sets - one for interest and another for keywords.

Start the campaign with a low budget of $5-10 per day. The final amount depends on the number of ad sets and variations you'll use and the niche you are in.

You should run the test ads for at least for a week to get enough data. This will give you a general idea how ads are performing. 

Keep reading as I explain details about all of the above steps.

Step-by-step guide for setting up your Pinterest ad campaign

So now it's time to set up your first campaign. I'll go through the set-up process step-by-step and explain what to choose and why.

Campaign Objective

So the first decision you need to make is to decide your campaign objective.

You have six options: 

Build Awareness: Brand Awareness * Video Views

Drive Consideration: Traffic * App Install

Get Conversions: Conversions * Catalog Sales

(Graphic?)

Build Awareness

Building awareness means your goal is to have users engage with your brand, get familiar with your company, and not necessarily take an action like buy your product or visit your website. If you want to build awareness for your brand or company, you have two ad choices:

These are great for displaying products and services. Or showcasing something new about your business. Anything that you want your users to become familiar with.

This type of ad is for generating as many views of your shared video Pin as possible. Again, the goal is to familiarize users with your brand.

Drive Consideration

The other type of Pinterest Ad category is consideration – which means you want your users to see your ad and then take an action. Actions can include clicking over to your website or product pages.

This ad type is what you want to use if your goal is to drive traffic to a particular website, landing page, blog post or product page.

Get Conversions

This category is for driving people to take actions like checkout, sign up, or add to cart on your website. It also can be designed to help people discover your products or services while searching Pinterest for inspiration.

Brand awareness ads are great for a top-of-the-funnel strategy to capture a brand new audience and get them to know you. This is generally the most affordable ad option. You pay for visibility rather than a click and it's great for a beginner learning more about your audience.

I normally start with Brand Awareness for brand new client ad accounts. This step is perfect for getting my client's products/website seen by the target audience. The data I get from the brand awareness activity determines my next steps.

Campaign Details

The next step is to name your campaign. I recommend you change the suggested campaign name into one that is more descriptive.

The more ads you run, the harder it will be to separate each ad. So get into habit renaming them for clarity.

This is also where you set up your daily or lifetime campaign-level Spending Limits. Add your $5-10 per day limit here or leave empty for now and set the budget on Ad Set Level.

You also have an option to "Pause Campaign" if you are just getting to know the platform. Only unpause when you know all your settings are correct. 

Next it is time to set up the first ad set.

Ad Set Up / Ad Group Details

I mentioned earlier you should set up one campaign with two ad sets. This is important! I see too many businesses put a single ad (just one image/video) and then use all of the possible variations for that single ad.

Sure, that might work out for you, but it won't help you know what worked afterwards. 

It is better to split the variation into separate ad sets. This allows you to learn about your audience and get a better return for your investment.

I also recommend that beginners create one ad set for Interest and another for Keywords. Though this is something you NEED TO TEST yourself as you move forward. 

My experience has been that keyword ads are FAR CHEAPER than interest for many businesses.

But, as always, you should test this for your business.

(Graphic)

At this point, your focus is on creating your INTEREST-based ad set (I'll show you later how to set up additional ad set for your KEYWORDS-based ad set).

Interest-based ad

You might run into an issue when you are looking at interest-based ads. There may be times when there is no suitable category for you to choose. If that happens, choose one that is nearest by typing your main keyword in the search box and see suggestions. 

You can also just skip an interest-based ad altogether and only use keyword targeting.

I use Keyword-based targeting for the most part unless I want to target the masses and get my client seen by a new audience. This would be the "top of the funnel" group. 

Audience targeting

I recommend for beginners to use the default settings below if they don't have a clear idea who their ideal customer is. (You really should know this, though.) 

However, use the setting options to target your particular audience if you know your audience well and have a clear idea who purchases from you.

When it comes to selecting Location options, you can now target users in the following countries:

United States, Canada, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, The Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Cyprus, Malta and Luxembourg.

Start your campaign with a location where you get the most sales activity, but consider testing other locations later on. I've seen fab results from countries the client never thought about targeting!

You now have an option to select specific cities if you are targeting the U.S. 

GRAPHIC HERE

Budget and Scheduling

This is the area where you set up your daily or lifetime budget. I always recommend starting with a low budget, as you are testing the market with your first ad. Important note: Go with a daily budget!

I normally start with $5-10 per day for clients and then adjust as I get more data and learn what works.

Bidding

Your ad visibility competes against everyone else running ads and the highest bid wins. This does not mean that you should follow the recommended bid!

GRAPHIC HERE

Always start your bid as low as possible. You can always increase the bid later if you do not see results.

But most likely, you will even get results at the lower end of bids!

This is one of the first things I check when working with a new client on their ads. More often than not, I find clients are paying TOO much for results!

Below you can see one client's maximum bid is $0.85 when Pinterest says a bid higher than $0.38 will be competitive. In this case, the client doesn't end up paying $0.85 per click. They paid $0.59 per click on average, but even that was too high for their audience.

Paying too much for a click without split testing their ads meant this particular client was not getting a decent return on ad spend (ROAS), aka cash in bank account.

GRAPHIC HERE

Why pay more for ads than you should, right?

Do you remember the line earlier about missing out on cheap FB ads? You can still enjoy very cheap ads on Pinterest if you start now! Do not miss this opportunity!

Types of Pinterest Ads

Your Pinterest ad campaign type will determine what ad format you use, as well as your bid type and available placements. So it's good to know the attributes of each format before starting a campaign.

Promoted Pins

Promoted Pins appear in the home feed and search results just like a regular Pin except that they're boosted and targeted to deliver additional reach. Other than the “Promoted” label on the Pin, they look and behave the way other Pins do. Users can Pin them to boards, share them, and comment on them.

Perhaps the best feature of Promoted Pins is that after a Pinner shares it, the “Promoted” label goes away and subsequent repins are considered earned media. In other words, you get added exposure for free. When a user taps or clicks your ad, they're taken directly to your landing page.

Promoted Carousels

There were introduced in November 2018. They feature two to five images that Pinners can swipe through.

These multi-image ads can appear wherever Pins can, and they behave the same, except for the dots beneath that signal the swipe option.

Each card in a Promoted Carousel ad can feature a different image, title, description, and landing page. This format is great if you have multiple products or multiple features to showcase because different images and selling points can speak to different Pinners.

Promoted Video Pins

Promoted Video Pins are just like Promoted Pins except the static image is replaced with video. Like Promoted Pins, Promoted Video appears in the home feed, search results, and the “more like this” section under a Pin close-up.

Pinterest videos autoplay as soon as they're 50 percent in view. For greater accessibility , and because many viewers watch video with sound off, it's important to produce video that's not dependent on audio.

Pinterest offers two sizes for Promoted Video Pins:

Standard width videos are the same size as regular Pins, whereas max width video spreads across the feed, minimizing distraction from competing Pins. Maximum video exposure can be more expensive, since minimum bids start higher.

Videos are ideal for awareness campaigns, and a good format for telling a brand or product story.

A Pinterest study conducted with Millward Brown found the Promoted videos are four times more memorable than non-video ads. And 67 percent of Pinners said that video inspires them to take action.

Promoted Shopping Ads

Shopping ads feature one image or a video at a time and allow people to purchase products they find on Pinterest. Shopping ads follow the same specs as static Pins and ads.

Promoted Collections Ads

A collections ad is an ad format that shows one large, hero visual image followed by three smaller, secondary images.

Once someone taps into a collections ad, they’ll be taken to a full-screen experience where they can see the hero creative up close and up to 24 secondary creatives.

To create a collections ad you can either manually create a customized collections ad or you can automatically create a personalized collections ad with a catalog.

You can manually create a customized collections ad with Pin builder by selecting and tagging secondary creatives one at a time. Through this approach, you can curate and control your collections ad content. Available campaign objectives are awareness, consideration, or conversions.

You can also automatically create a personalized collections ad with a catalog by selecting product groups you want to feature from your catalog. Through this approach, a collections ad will select and display the most relevant products for the user from your product feed. Catalog sales is the only available campaign objective.

Promoted App Pins

Promoted App Pins let Pinners download your mobile app directly from Pinterest. These mobile-only ads are a good fit for Pinterest's audience, since 80 percent of Pinterest traffic comes from mobile devices.

Promoted App Pins look and act just like a Promoted Pin or Promoted Video Pin, only they link to a valid iTunes or Google Play app store URL. An install button accompanies these Pins, but you should also make sure your copy and image or video conveys attributes about your app.

Pinners have a penchant for shopping, so quick-and-easy app downloads can quickly turn into sales.

Special Rich Pin Option Note: Though not exclusive to Pinterest ads, Rich Pins offer another tool you can use for you business. They are Pins (organic or promoted ad) that automatically sync information from your website to your Pins. Rich Pins are a free product anyone on Pinterest can use.

There are three types of Rich Pins:

Product Rich Pins include the most up-to-date pricing, availability, and product information right on your Pin.

Recipe Rich Pins add a title, serving size, cook time, ratings, diet preference and a list of ingredients to recipes that you Pin from your site.

Article Rich Pins add the headline or title, the description, and the author of the article or blog post from your site.

Use the right Pinterest specs to succeed 

If you plan moving forward with Pinterest ads, make sure you are using following the correct pin size to maximize your results!

Every day I see businesses wasting money on pins that are the wrong format for Pinterest. 

If you do ads on any other platform, you need to resize your images / videos for promoted pins. See ad examples later in the post to know how avoid most common mistakes. 

Here are sizing recommendations for images and video.

Image:

Width minimum 600 pixels

Ideal aspect Ratio 2 x 3, example 1000 x 1500 pixels

having said that do experiment with taller than 2 x 3 ratio with your a/b testing

File type: JPG / PNG

Video:

File type mp4 or .mov

Video length between 4 seconds to 15 minutes

Size 1:1 (square) or 2:3 (vertical)

Ideal aspect ratio same as image*

Max file size max 2GB

GRAPHICS HERE

*As you can see above, you can use a square ad on Pinterest, even at standard width but I do not recommend standard. Your ad will be so small it will disappear very quickly.

I'd rather go with vertical video. Sizing differs slightly depending between standards and max width video - see here for exact numbers.

Avoid These Common Ad Mistakes

Below you see two examples of the most common mistake I see with Pinterest Ads.

Wrong aspect ratio!

GRAPHICS

Do not think you can use same ad for Facebook and Pinterest. Save your money and spend the extra dollar (or your time) to resize your ad graphics. 

That little ad on the right is swiped up so quickly that you will not get great results. Or you will get much better results when you use the real estate available.

GRAPHICS HERE

Important Note: Pinterest is mostly used on mobile (aka small screen)! On a larger screen a horizontal image / video "might" work out ok (I still don't recommend it!), but on a mobile it is so tiny!

So save up your money (and make more for that matter) following Pinterest ads specs and using the right size image / video on your next promoted pin campaign.

While you are at it, do make an effort with your image graphics as it is the ONLY thing that will stop browsers eye on your ad. 

Split testing (aka A/B testing)

I've been mentioning split or a/b testing in this post. This is where you get your first chance to test something.

So add at least two pins to your ad!

This means crafting two pins promoting the same product or post, but with a different look. It's important to just split test one thing at a time.

Examples:

(GRAPHICS HERE)

one image with text overlay, another without 

one image with white background, another red

same image on both, different text overlay

and so on

Don't ever split test different posts or products within one campaign. Better to keep these as separate campaigns.

OK, so now you've created your first INTEREST-based ad campaign.

Now it is time to create your KEYWORD-based ad campaign.

Duplicate Ad Campaign

Duplicate your INTEREST-based ad set to create a KEYWORD-based ad set.

Select your newly created ad and click "DUPLICATE".

GRAPHIC HERE

Keep everything else the same except for changing the following:

Remove: INTEREST 

Add: KEYWORDS

Adjust: BID

Ready to look for keywords? Pinterest is going to help you out. It will tell you what people are searching for and share the monthly volume.

GRAPHIC HERE

Pinterest and I both recommend having at least 25 keywords, but the more the merrier!

So you can get a bit creative with keywords. You are in a testing stage, so you want to see what makes people "click." At times that can be something quite different from what you thought! 

If you need ideas for keywords, head to the Pinterest main page and type in your main keyword and see suggestions like those shown below:

2X GRAPHICS HERE

Run the ad for few days and check your analytics to see which keywords have performed the best.

Once you've edited the second ad set, click "PUBLISH" and wait for Pinterest to approve your ads. This is normally done under 24 hours.

Measuring the success of your Pinterest ad campaign

All of the steps you took when setting up your business account the right way and establishing your ad campaign are ready to pay off your you now.

Pinterest Analytics will help you understand your overall presence on Pinterest. It will show you what paid and organic content, or Pins that you've published and Pins people have saved from your claimed domain, resonates most on the site. 

The insights you get from Analytics can help you make better decisions and customize your ad campaigns and organic pins. For example, if most of your impressions are mobile, you can optimize your website for mobile.

If an item on your site is driving traffic, you can make sure it's available, feature it in more Pins, and save it to more boards.

When you filter your data, your top Pins and top boards for that selected filter will show. Top Pins and top boards are the Pins and boards, either organic or paid, that people have viewed or engaged with most.

To start, your top Pins and boards will be sorted by most impressions. Click on Top Pins or Top boards to update the filter to engagements, saves, or Pin clicks.

As you look to make revisions to your current ad campaign or start a new one, Pinterest's analytics can be broken down into a range of metrics. They can provide you with a clear picture of what promoted pins are working well and which ones may not be connecting as well with your audience.

Key filters include: filter by date, by view, by content type (like organic or paid and earned), by claimed accounts, by device (mobile, desktop, or tablet, or by source. 

About the author 

Nina

Nina loves creating how-to videos to help online entrepreneurs to streamline their businesses with high effective systems, tools and automations. She is completely location independent and travels frequently.

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