Pinterest was launched in 2010, but it started selling ads to the public only in 2015. Its ad product was only available to English-speaking countries up until it kicked in only at the end of 2018. And it finally launched in Europe.
France was the first non-English speaking country to be launched. Followed by Germany, Austria, Spain, and Italy. The fact that Pinterest has been around for a long time, but only started its advertising business recently, makes it very attractive for marketers. They now can rely on an established engaged audience and at the same time be early adopters of its ad product.
As it happened for all the major online advertising platforms, business who started early enjoyed lower costs, higher exposure and higher overall returns. The likes of Facebook and Google Ads are now saturated, which makes them very competitive and expensive.
Therefore, it became more challenging for businesses to obtain a relevant return on ad spend. Pinterest Ads is still fairly new and represents an unmatched opportunity for who is ready to take on the challenge of testing a new advertising channel.
How to Use Pinterest for eCommerce?
As you might already know, Pinterest is deemed to be particularly suited for eCommerce businesses.
The company's mission statement is clear: "At Pinterest, our mission is to help people discover things they love and do those things in real life."
"Do those things in real life" basically means "buy them"!
Users might search for inspiration around their next home improvement project and therefore eventually buy some furniture pieces or DIY tools. They might be on the lookout for their next party outfit and so eventually buy those nice shoes they always dreamt of. They might be planning their next holiday and so purchase a guided tour or a night in a luxury resort.
Whatever people are planning to purchase online (or offline), Pinterest is there, somewhere in the buyer's journey. Thanks to its visual nature and its search engine, Pinterest is just fit for the eCommerce purpose!
Who Is Pinterest Audience?
Another aspect that marketers love about Pinterest is its very targeted audience. The Pinterest audience is made of "Deciders". The people who actually make purchase decisions, for themselves or on behalf of their families and friends.
These people are mainly female 25-54 who are "responsible for 80% of household buying, and they control more than 50% of the wealth in the US" (Ketchum, Marketing to Women, Jan-Oct 2017).
According to a 2018 study, Pinterest reaches "83% of all women 25-54 in the US, [...] That's more than Instagram, Snap, and Twitter." This means that Pinterest is your entrance gate to accessing this invaluable audience of people ready to buy from you!
According to the same study, the most popular categories on Pinterest are Food and Drink, Style and Beauty:
- Deciders are "2x more likely to spend a week researching a food or drink item, and 52% use Pinterest to develop their passion for food and drinks".
- Pinterest "reaches 70% of the Deciders who purchased jewelry, watches or accessories in the past 6 months, and 1 out of 2 who spent $500 or more on women’s clothing or shoes in the same period".
- Also, "51% of Deciders are being exposed to new [beauty] brands on our platform that they would have not otherwise considered"
Pinterest is quite transparent when it comes to reporting on its audience demographics. Businesses can even compare their profiles' audience with the overall Pinterest's one.
If you hold a business account, you can click on "Analytics" on the top left-hand side corner of the screen and then on "Audience Insights". You will access a valuable set of information about your audience and the total Pinterest's one.
Travel brand's audience in blue and Pinterest total audience in purple.
Not surprisingly, the two audiences quite match! We are sure that many eCommerce businesses would notice the same trend.
What Are Pinterest Ads?
If you are familiar with Facebook and Instagram marketing you would know that while organic posting is great for initially building your brand, those platforms eventually want your money.
If you aim to reach new audiences at scale and make your social media efforts profitable, you need to plunge into social ads. Pinterest Ads works quite similarly to Facebook Ads. You can create organic Pins (the equivalent of Facebook and Instagram posts) and then boost them to expand their reach.
Pins can be either static images, GIFs or videos. All three formats are available for advertising. The buying and bidding model is CPM (cost per thousand impressions).
Pinterest Ads Campaign Objectives
Similarly to Facebook, Pinterest Ads offer several campaign objectives to choose from.
- Its offering spans from top-funnel brand awareness campaigns, to conversions and catalog sales campaigns.
- Brand Awareness and Video Views campaigns aim to show your Pins to as many people as possible. This helps spread the word of your brand. It is perfect for aspirational content and generic branded messages.
- Traffic campaigns aim to drive traffic to your website. The goal here is to get click-throughs. Therefore, you want to make your Pins engaging and related to a specific offer of product.
- Conversions and Catalog Sales objectives aim at purchases on your website. The former requires advertisers to manually create their Pins, the latter is feed-driven. More on this in the next section
Pinterest Ads Targeting Options
Pinterest Ads offer three targeting options. Custom Audiences, Interests and Keywords Custom Audiences.
Advertisers can create their own custom audiences based on first-party customer data gathered either through the Pinterest Tag on their website or through their CRM system. The following are the options you can choose from:
Actalike audiences, the equivalent of Facebook lookalike, are also available Interests.
The same as on Facebook and Google, advertisers can target their audience based on interests. There are more than enough to choose from.
Keywords are what distinguish Pinterest Ads from Facebook and Instagram. Pinterest is an unusual social media because it is also a search engine. This is what makes Pinterest so valuable to eCommerce businesses.
Marketers can capture the customer intent like never before on social media, at the bottom of the purchase funnel. Bids can be set at the keyword level (as well as at ad group level).
Bear in mind that, unlike on Google Display Ads, the keyword targeting method doesn't narrow down the interest targeting. Rather, it expands it. Roughly, it is the same that the targeting Observation mode does on Google Ads.
Think of the following logic statement: "Target users who are interested in food and drinks OR search for 'healthy recipe' ". For this reason, we recommend creating separate ad groups for interests and keywords.
Pros and Cons of Pinterest Ads
As for every new ad platform that breaks into the market, advertisers are faced with advantages and challenges alike.
Pinterest Ads reach a very valuable audience of Deciders, who are very close to the purchase moment. It inspires users showing them new products and brands they weren't aware of. At the same time, it captures their purchase intent thanks to its search functionality. Thanks to newly available features, users can see a product price and availability information in brands' pins.
This makes the platform even juicier for eCommerce businesses. It is not a social media, it is not a search engine, it is not an eCommerce platform. It is just something in between what attracts advertisers and businesses the most.
In fact, it is what differentiates it from Facebook, Instagram, and Google.
Also, the Pinterest Ads platform is quite easy to use and straightforward. Unlike Facebook and Google Ads, you won't find complex ad formats and bidding model strategies. You can set up your first campaign in a matter of minutes. Pins are quite a basic ad format too. You just need an image (or video), a title, a description, and a link. Unlike on Google, the character limit for titles and descriptions doesn't seem to be a problem.
Now, what makes Pinterest Ads a great platform is also its biggest weakness.
Its easy-to-use and essential features might result in being too basic for some and might not suit the most demanding advertisers.
For example, you can't create audiences based on users who watched one of your videos and you can't hide sponsored Pins from your organic Pins. It seems like the two Pin types always go together, which can be good and bad at the same time.
Also, while the Pinterest audience is perfect for retailers and B2C businesses in general, it is not really suited to B2B companies and who sells complex products in general. While almost any kind of business could profitably advertise on Facebook and Google, on Pinterest only some succeed.
Pinterest Ads catalog feature is only available to retail businesses (so far). Travel, hotel, flights, job posting, and other services are excluded. This is obviously quite disappointing. Anybody who works in the aforementioned services knows how successful Facebook Dynamic Ads and Google Dynamic Remarketing are.
It would be great to see similar success on Pinterest Ads too.
Pinterest Shopping Ads
Pinterest Shopping Ads or Catalog Sales Ads are one of the latest additions to the Pinterest Ads suite. This was definitely one of the most awaited features for eCommerce businesses, who can finally dynamically advertise their products on the platform.
Advertisers can upload their full product catalog, create product groups and show product Pins on their business profile, in search results and recommended products section. Product Pins show a large product image, product title, price, availability and a "visit" CTA button that links to the product page on the advertisers' website.
Once your catalog has been uploaded, your product Pins can show organically on the platform and they are also ready to be boosted through Catalog Sales campaigns.
How to Get Started With Pinterest Shopping Ads
In order to start advertising with Pinterest Shopping Ads you need to make sure that you have:
Once you have done that, you can upload your product catalog.
Uploading a Product Catalogue
First of all, you need to make sure that your product catalog follows the Pinterest formatting requirements. You can download a catalog template here. As you can see from the template, the catalog format is quite similar to the Google Shopping one. There are some required fields and some optional ones.
Among the optional fields we recommend you use the following:
- product_type: custom product categorization
- additional_image_link: Pinterest creates a new Pin for any additional image. It increases the chances to show your products
- sale_price: add this field so you can highlight your discounted price
- brand: if you sell products from multiple brands, this can be helpful for categorizing them accordingly
- custom_label_0-4: add custom labels for better product group management
Your product feed can be uploaded as a .csv, which is quite a standard format. Although the feed format looks very similar to the Google Shopping one and therefore you might be able to use the same file for both platforms, you might want to optimize them differently.
In fact, some fields like custom labels can be tailored to the platform-specific needs. We talked about custom labels extensively in our blog. They help you categorize your products based on your commercial needs.
You might want to group all discounted products together, or all the bestsellers in a bespoke group. This can be achieved only through custom labels.
Since bids and competition can change significantly from one platform to another, it might be the case where your Google categorization doesn't really work well for Pinterest and vice versa.
While customizing your feed specifically for Pinterest might seem like a big task, it doesn't have to be. DataFeedWatch helps you do just that. You can upload a single source feed and then customize it based on every platform needs.
Once your feed is ready you can upload it onto Pinterest. Click on "Ads" in the top left menu and then on "Catalogues".
Enter the link to your feed:
Now you'll have to wait. The Pinterest review process is unfortunately quite long. It can take up to 48 hours.
Creating Product GroupsLaunch your Pinterest Shopping Ads campaign
Once your feed has been approved you can create product groups. Product groups are a way to group similar products together in order to bid on them separately.
Filters you can use to create product groups are: category (Google product category), product type, brand, and custom labels This is why it is so important to have your feed fields right!
You can attach multiple product groups to the same ad group, but bear in mind that, unlike Google Shopping, bids can be set at the ad group level only. This means that you can't bid at the product group level.
Therefore, if you want to set a separate bid for a specific product group, you have to put it in a separate ad group.
Launching your Pinterest Shopping Ads campaign
At this point, your product Pins are ready to show on Pinterest. Initially, they will show as organic Pins. In fact, they will always show as organic Pins as well.
Unlike Facebook, organic and paid Pins are basically the same Pins that run at the same time. You can just choose to push some Pins putting ad money behind it.
But, as an advertiser all you want to do is advertise, right? You want to show your product Pins to as many users as possible and maximize the chances of making a sale.
All you have to do is navigating to your Pinterest Ads section, create a new campaign and select "Catalog Sales" as your campaign objective.
You will now be prompted to create your first Ad Group. You can choose between "Audiences" or "Dynamic Retargeting". Choose "Audiences" for now, we'll talk about Dynamic Retargeting in the next section.
On the right-hand-side, you can choose to target one of your custom audiences. As we mentioned before, custom audiences can be created based on users' behavior on your website or their engagement with your Pins.
Note that no keyword or interest targeting is necessary for Catalog Sales campaigns! The Pinterest engine will automatically show your product Pins to the people who are most likely to be interested in your offer. However, you can narrow down your audience based on demographics.
Now it's time to select the product groups you want to advertise with this ad group.
You can now choose where you want to show your Product Pins.
- Browse: Your ads will appear as people browse their home feeds and related Pins.
- Search: Your ads will appear in search results and related Pins.
As with Facebook Ads, the "All Placement" option is the recommended one. Finally, it's time to set your budget and bids:
You can choose whether you want to optimise your Pins delivery per Clicks or per Conversions. Obviously you need to have a Pinterest Tag implemented on your website if you want to use the Conversion optimisation.
You can then set your ideal cost per click or average cost per conversion. Note: you will still pay per impression regardless of what optimisation option you choose!
The Cost per Click and Cost per Conversion amount that you enter in this section are just instructions that you give to the Pinterest Ads engine. It doesn't mean you will pay only if a conversion happens.
The Pinterest Ads team recommends you start with a daily budget that is 3.5x your target cost per conversion. Eg. cost per conversion $50, daily budget $175.
Unlike other campaign objectives, you don't have to select any Pin. In fact, Pins will be automatically created based on your product feed data.
Optimizing your Pinterest Shopping Ads campaign
Pinterest Shopping Ads campaigns are very straightforward and easy to implement. However, there are still some actions you can take to improve performance. Check this Pinterest Help Center article for more information.
Pinterest suggests you:
- Structure campaigns by product categories for ease of optimizing and negative keyword management.
- Avoid creating granular campaigns & ad groups structure where daily budgets may be spread too thin.
- Use negative keywords for brand safety, not as an optimization lever that can limit distribution.
- Group similar product groups under one ad group to better leverage optimization levers (bids, budgets, audiences).
- Break out high performing product groups in new ad groups over time.
The negative keywords topic is quite peculiar and it worth spending a couple of words on it. Unlike other social media, Pinterest has a search engine.
This means that your Pins will show up against users' search terms. You can consult your search terms in your "Reporting" section and you should add negative keywords accordingly.
While you can't bid on keywords in Pinterest Shopping campaigns, you can still add negative keywords for brand safety.
Pinterest Dynamic Retargeting
Dynamic Retargeting allows you to dynamically retarget on Pinterest users who have previously engaged with your products on your website.
As we mentioned earlier, during the Pinterest Shopping Ads campaign creation you can select Dynamic Retargeting in your Ad Group settings. Bear in mind that this is an Ad Group setting, it is not a campaign type.
You need to meet the following requirements to run Dynamic Retargeting Ad Groups:
- You have Catalogs active with your products.
- You have placed the Pinterest tag on your website and are tracking the following conversion events: Checkout, Add to Cart, Page Visit.
- Your events are passing back the product ID event data, and the product IDs being passed back are same as the product IDs in your Catalogs.
- You meet the necessary number of Page Visit and Add to Cart events in the last 7 days.
It is not really clear what is the "necessary number of Page Visit and Add to Cart events" required. You will notice the Dynamic Retargeting option being available whenever you will have met these requirements anyway.
Common strategies for Dynamic Retargeting are:
- retarget users who abandoned a product in the basket without completing the purchase
- retarget users who searched for a product on your website without adding it to the basket
- cross-sell users who completed a purchase on your website and might be interested in similar products
- up-sell users who purchased an item on your website and might need additional accessories or upgrades
You can achieve all these objectives through a strategic product group structure and audience definition.
After reading this article you will have no doubt that Pinterest is the go-to platform for eCommerce businesses in 2020. Once again, your product feed optimization is essential for succeeding on this platform.
As we mentioned earlier, Pinterest Shopping Ads and Dynamic Retargeting optimisation is all about properly structuring your campaigns in product groups. Also, your product Pins success is very much due to the quality of your feed, where a nice high-quality image and a spot-on product title make a huge difference when it comes to users engagement.