Social Media

Pinterest Makes a Bid for Search; What Marketers Need to Know

February 1, 2017

Pinterest has been on the radar of marketers for years. As it’s grown from awareness to consideration, Pinterest promised a tantalizing blend of the audience targeting used by social marketers and the intent-based targeting used by search marketers. However, the uniqueness of the platform has been something of a weakness in an environment where organizations still operate in silos. Rather than seeing Pinterest as both social and search, they’ve seen it as neither social nor search, but as a passive channel where users save and don’t engage. Confounding this issue is that Pinterest’s offerings were at times expensive, difficult to manage, and even more difficult to measure. In the past year, however, Pinterest has taken a number of steps to turn enthusiasm into investment. They made strategic hires to improve their search capabilities (including visual), brought in a new head of ad sales to help with monetization, and added new search-ad options that truly married intent- and identity-based approaches.

360i has long partnered with Pinterest. As the platform has grown, we’ve seen investment increase as much as 2x for some clients. Still, Pinterest has had its challenges; the juice wasn’t always worth the squeeze. Today though, with the announcement of a full-scale release of Search Ads along with a partnership with Kenshoo, the squeeze got a lot easier. Search and social marketers should find it easy to adapt to the new product, and Kenshoo users should find it easier and quicker to scale Pinterest campaigns. As important, it should be easier to manage Pinterest campaigns holistically along with current search and social efforts.

What Marketers Need to Know


The opportunity:

Pinterest reports that they have 2 billion searches per day, and 97% of top searches in 2016 were non-brand. Moreover, 72% of Pinners say that Pinterest “has introduced them to a new brand or service.” Marketers struggling to scale non-brand efforts in traditional paid search, should consider trying Pinterest, especially if the brand is highly visual in nature (e.g., fashion).

What success looks like:

As is often the case, KPIs will vary by objective. As noted above, searches are far higher in the funnel than traditional search, so months can go by before a search turns into purchase. There are also some tracking limitations still today, so more granular measurement may not be possible. Marketers using the same KPIs on Pinterest as in their search campaigns, will likely miss their goals. Currently CPC or CPE are still likely the most appropriate (and actionable) KPI, but that should evolve as measurement improves. For instance, Pinterest and Oracle partnered to measure in-store lift and found “5x more ins-store sales than industry average.”

Who should manage Search Ads:

Search or paid-social experts should be very comfortable managing these campaigns, regardless of objective. Traditional search marketers might be more comfortable with keyword-based targeting and Shopping campaigns, while social teams might be a bit more comfortable with the audience targeting, but those lines are increasingly blurry.

If you don’t use Kenshoo:

Pinterest is committed to improving their UI to help scale campaigns. We expect to see improvements this year, but for now, managing campaigns will still be more difficult than for other platforms.

Bottom line:

If you aren’t sure where to put your next search or social dollar because you’ve maxed out your spending there or want to find a new source of customers, you should strongly consider Pinterest, especially if you are a Kenshoo user.