POV: Search Targeting on Pinterest


Pinterest announced last week that it will be introducing a search advertising product. Although keyword based targeting has been available through third party providers such as 4C since 2016, the new product will include new targeting features and a shopping feed similar to Google’s product listing ads.

Details and Implications:

Pinterest prides itself on being the ‘world’s catalogue of ideas’, with over 150 million people a month using the social media platform to plan everything from tomorrow’s lunch to next year’s round the world adventure. The key to this statement is ‘to plan’, as users tend to be at the top of the funnel browsing for ideas that they plan to purchase later - sometimes up to three months before a key event or holiday. According to a Pinterest study, 76% of Pinners save items to purchase later, taking advantage of this unique way to preserve ideas that resonate. With 2bn searches a month taking place on Pinterest and the majority being generic non-branded terms (97%), this is a great opportunity for advertisers to capture this intent whilst the consumer is still in the research phase.

Generic keywords are notoriously expensive on other search engines such as Google and Bing, therefore Pinterest could be the new favourite search platform for generating awareness, especially as 72% of Pinners say that the platform has introduced them to a new brand or service. Keyword targeting is not new on Pinterest, advertisers have previously been able to target using keywords through third party platforms such as 4C. The update is regarding new targeting capabilities, bringing the options in line with search engines ability to use match types. At present, all keywords are broadly matched, resulting in less accuracy. The update means advertisers will now be able to ensure that keywords match exactly the search query of the user (exact match), or at least the specific keyword will be included (phrase match). Keywords will be purchased through an auction, with CPC determined by bid and relevance of the creative.

To help Pinterest get ahead in the search space, it has also partnered with Kenshoo, which has been a leader in integrating paid search and social campaigns, to enable advertisers to share their shopping feeds to create ads. This means that instead of having to develop ad creative (or ‘Pins’ in this case), the shopping campaign ads are pulled directly from the advertiser’s feed, with the possibility to dynamically update ads based on inventory levels. Considering the majority of ecommerce retailers will already have a shopping feed in place for use on other search engines, this will give advertisers another route to would be consumers.


Pinterest offering more advanced keyword targeting options and new ad creative formats will help make it a better offering for advertisers looking for a platform to gain awareness with greater potential reward. Pinterest is a unique platform in terms of how consumers interact with brands, as unlike other social media platforms, they are actually researching and actively searching for new ideas and potential purchases. This offers a real opportunity to create engaging and relevant awareness campaigns, as long as marketers can be patient and wait for the conversions to occur a few months down the line.