How to Set up and Run Profitable Promoted Pins for Beginners

Promoted pins (aka Pinterest ads) are one of the best strategies you should implement for your business TODAY! Read below why and how to set up and run profitable promoted pins campaigns.

Pinterest has gone through quite a few changes in past year. One change some have noticed is that Pinterest promotes their ads to Business users. And some accounts have also noticed a slight decline in organic visibility as well.

Yes, promoted pins/ads are the future of Pinterest. But, this is a good news for you! I'll share later in the post why this is such great news!

If you ever caught yourself thinking "I wish I used Facebook ads when they were cheap" (like many of us!), this is the time to hop on-board with Pinterest ads as they are still cheap compared to any other platform.

Before you start running ads, you need to have your basics covered with proper account set up.

Get your account set up prior to running any ads - this is important!

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

Before anything else, make sure you have Pinterest tags working 100% on your site (use the Chrome Pinterest Tag Helper extension) to verify your tags.

When you use event codes on your website, you are able to re-target a visitor at a later stage - this is most likely where conversions will happen!

First Campaign

Once your account is set up, 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 1 campaign with two ad sets - one for interest and another for keywords.

Start 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.

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

I'll go into details of all above options below.

Step-by-step guide about setting up Pinterest Ads / Promoted Pins

So now it is 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 on your campaign objective.

You have six options:

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 great for a beginner as you learn more about your audience.

For brand new client ad accounts I normally start with Brand Awareness just to get 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 that you change the suggested campaign name into something 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 campaign level Spending Limits - daily or lifetime. Add your $5-10 / day limit here or leave empty 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 (aka 1 image/video) and then use all of the possible variation for that single ad.

Sure, that might work out for you, but it won't let you know what it 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 an 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.

Interest based ad set

Keyword based ad set

So 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 in 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 crowd.

Audience targeting

If you don't have clear idea who your ideal customer is (which you should!), I recommend for beginners to use the default settings below. 

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

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

If you are targeting the U.S., you have an option to select specific cities.

Budget and Scheduling

This is 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. And go with daily budget!

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Why pay more for ads than you should, right?

Lastly, do you remember the line about cheap FB ads? You can enjoy very cheap ads on Pinterest if you start now! Do not miss this opportunity!

The Ad

It's now time to choose the ad you want to use for your campaign.

You can select a pin you already pinned to Pinterest or you can upload a new pin.


Further Reading (opens in new tab): Pinterest Ads Specs – Promoted Pins Specs

Another important thing is to select the pin from a KEYWORD OPTIMIZED BOARD! Or upload a new pin and SAVE it to a KEYWORD OPTIMIZED BOARD.

Ad examples below are from my Pinterest Ads library of fantastic (and not so fantastic) real live examples of Pinterest ads. I've collected over 900 live Pinterest promoted pins in my ad library to help me and my clients get better results with ads.

And I can't wait to add your ad to my library as a great example... 🙂

Pinterest is mostly used on a mobile device - aka small screen - so your ad should make the most of the available real estate. A vertical format is almost always the way to go.

Also to note: Some users like me use Pinterest with a black background, not the normal white. Make sure your image looks great with both backgrounds.

Do not waste your money by using horizontal images like examples below:

The above examples are way too common on Pinterest. 

The one on the left is... well, I don't even know what is being promoted, so this is complete waste of money.

The one on the right does not stand out at all and organic pins near the ad are much better and would get the viewer's click. 

Both suffer from an incorrect ad ratio, too.

You can create pins on Canva for free, if you do not work with a graphic designer. Canva templates are a great way to get started.

Split testing (aka A/B testing)

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

So add at least two pins to your ad!

This means crafting two pins promoting the same product / posts, but with a different look. Split test one thing at a time though.


  • 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 campaign.

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

Duplicate Ad Campaign

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

Select your newly created ad and click "DUPLICATE".

Keep everything else the same except for changing the following:

  1. Remove: INTEREST 
  2. Add: KEYWORDS
  3. 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.

Both Pinterest and I 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 shown below:

After you've run the ad for few days you can see from analytics 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.

Why Pinterest Ads are Good News

I promised to share why Pinterest ads are good news for you. Well, ads provide easily trackable ways to market a business. When you use ads and have tags set up correctly on your site, nothing stops your from re-targeting time and time again.

When doing ads for my clients or my own websites, I always use special tracking links that allow me to review clicks at an even more targeted level. This allows me to split audiences in many ways to ensure I capture each and every one. I highly recommend you do the same!

Lastly not many Pinterest ads are very good... and yet they still work OK! This means you don't have to create fancy and expensive ads to make them work on Pinterest. Of course it helps but you can get started with a really small budget and SEE RESULTS.

If you are still on the fence, below is a screenshot of my clients ad account on Pinterest. 

How would you like to get 687 CONVERSIONS for mere CA$52.42 (roughly US$68) ad spend. 

Nice, heh?

This particular Canadian client is in a very competitive niche on Pinterest, so these results are pretty impressive. And I have to tell you this ad set was just a quick test to get some base numbers.

Action time

If you have not taken action at this point, NOW IS THE RIGHT TIME!

If you take action now you can still enjoy affordable ads - just like Facebook ads were a few years ago 🙂

If you'd love to use Pinterest ads but don't have the time to DIY, I do offer ad management via my Pinterest Marketing Agency

Do not make newbie Promoted pins mistakes - follow this step-by-step posts and set up Pinterest ads correct and see RESULTS! Click to read...
  • Kenzi Green says:

    I ran a pinterest ad once and some how I accidentally spent $50. The pin did get a good amount of clicks but I definitely lost money!

    I recently started working with a Pinterest manager and upgraded tailwind for her usage, I can’t wait to see the results. How do you feel about Tailwind?

    ~ Kenzi

    • On the ads, that’s terrible! Maybe you can recover some of the money spent when you retarget website visitors.

      Tailwind is an awesome tool to help grow traffic from Pinterest. I use it on all of my accounts and all client accounts.

  • Courtney says:

    This was a very detailed and helpful post on Pinterest Ads! You did a really great job of explaining the dos and don’ts of making an ad. It will definitely come in handy for me this year. Thank you!

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