Pinterest Contemplates Sponsored Pins

pinterest sponsored

If you have a business with an online presence, you may already use Pinterest to market your brand. The social site lets users “pin” images of their favorite things, but it could soon include Pinterest sponsored content too.

This is probably not surprising to anyone who’s watched the development of other significant social media properties over the years.

Facebook, Twitter and most recently LinkedIn have all moved to sponsored or promoted content models as at least one potential way to ultimately monetize their operations. But Pinterest seems especially cautious about its monetizing strategy.

In a recent post on the official Pinterest blog, company CEO and co-founder Ben Silbermann tried to reassure users:

I know some of you may be thinking, ‘Oh great…here come the banner ads.’ But we’re determined to not let that happen.

The video below explains how Pinterest works:

Pinterest Sponsored Pins: Tasteful, Transparent, Relevant

Instead, Silbermann promised users of the site any advertising would be tasteful, transparent and relevant. He also said Pinterest would take users’ feedback into account to improve the promoted pins over time.

To start, Silbermann says Pinterest will likely try some test pins in the site’s current search results and category feeds. But he stressed these promoted pins will not actually be sponsored by anyone. They will simply be tests to gain some feedback from the community.

Silbermann explained one specific example of how this might work would be promoting, say, a Batman costume under a search for the term “Halloween.”

The Importance of Transparency

Pinterest is probably right to be cautious. Last year, the company’s experiments with Skimlinks, an affiliate linking service, caused a bit of a stir. Enough so that Silbermann took time to clarify the company’s position and add some new disclosure language to the Pinterest site.

The lesson is a good one for all small businesses. Many comments on Silbermann’s most recent post were supportive of the site’s need to eventually advertise.

The important thing is to be transparent with customers about what you’re doing and why.

The prospect of Pinterest sponsored pins also raises important opportunities for businesses already using the site for marketing. It will be important for those businesses to keep watching as Pinterest ventures into the world of paid content.

Image: Pinterest

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Shawn Hessinger Shawn Hessinger is the Executive Editor for Small Business Trends and a professional journalist with more than 20 years experience in traditional and digital media for trade publications and news sites. He is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and has served as a beat reporter, columnist, editorial writer, bureau chief and managing editor for the Berks Mont Newspapers.

10 Reactions
  1. This is the logical way for Pinterest to go. People will soon see sponsored pins as the norm, as is generally true for Facebook and Twitter.

  2. I think most websites follow this routine. They start off with no ads and as more people start using the website then ads appear as a way to monetize the site.
    I am pretty sure most people, if they had a website with the same traffic as Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest,would put ads in it. Of course the ads have to be tasteful and relevant to the site and not all in your face.

  3. It’s going to happen. LinkedIn allows sponsored posts. So does Facebook and I don’t hear people screaming about them. Pinterest is totally free and if people begrudge the company for trying to make some money it’s their own fault.

  4. You may be an ad hater but you really cannot deny Pinterest the freedom to sponsor some posts. Although I am a little afraid that it might turn out to be like Twitter. What’s important is that it retains its purpose and that is to share photos and content that matter.

  5. Pinterest, as a revenue generator, is unexplored territory. With the traffic and activity they see, of course the want to monetize it.

  6. In my personal opinion, this is a great idea for pinterest and it could be the websites alternative to something like Googles Adwords program. Google makes billions from that and Pinterest can do quite well for themselves with an additional income such as that.
    Our company posts some of our favorite items on pinterest and it’s always rewarding when they get repinned. IF we could pay for a higher ranking, I’m sure that it would be highly considered.