Why We’re Loving Pinterest Promoted Pins

In January, Pinterest moved their paid advertising platform out of beta.  As early adopters, we were able to run tests with Promoted Pins to see if targeting, cost, and engagement could provide a meaningful channel for our clients.

It did.

In fact, Pinterest Promoted Pins has been one of the fastest growing digital channels in our history, providing high quality traffic with measurable engagement.  For at least one of our clients, Pinterest has grown to encompass over half their media buy simply because the numbers are so good.

Direct Response in Social Media?

Unlike many paid Social Media advertising programs, the visual focus and highly engaging nature of paid pins have led to performance not unlike direct response campaigns in Search and other highly-responsive media. This has meant rapid results and optimization of campaigns, which is not always the case in Social Media advertising. Where many Facebook and other Social Media campaigns may be challenging for direct response results, Pinterest can work quite well. We do note that it is early for Pinterest, and increased competition and Pinterest’s own efforts to increase bidding are likely to result in a more expensive channel in the future.

Out-Of -Channel Activity

While Pinterest provides high-quality traffic and direct engagement with Promoted Pins, it is worth noting that they also provide a high level of Out-Of-Channel activity.  Out-Of-Channel activity simply means that there is a tracking disconnect between the exposure of the paid advertising and the actual sale or other engagement of the end user.  With Pinterest, it is not at all unusual for users to see the domain name of the advertiser associated with the promoted pin, then come in through a Brand or No Referrer visit.  It is important when evaluating Pinterest campaigns that the Out-Of-Channel lift be taken into consideration, as significant value is produced through Out-Of-Channel behavior.  In tests done with online retailer Urbilis.com, we estimate Out-Of-Channel activity to be close to or more than the level of tracked sales.

Out-Of-Channel activity occurs with any online advertising, and is related to the level of interruption of the media.  Search, for example, has essentially no level of interruption and therefore low levels of Out-Of-Channel behavior.  Pinterest, due to the nature of Pins and Promoted Pins, has surprisingly low levels of interruption compared to display, video, or even other Social Media advertising. With Urbilis.com we say Out-Of-Channel behavior as approximately 50% of the total value created by Pinterest.  In display, video, or other more interruptive media this can be 90% or higher.


Pinterest Promoted Pins allowed us to reach an audience far greater than our clients’ organic Pinterest campaigns. It has not been unusual for us to find that the volume of re-pins and clicks from Pinterest can be 10x t0 100x the volume of the non-paid Pinterest campaigns. This access to a significantly larger quality audience makes Promoted Pins highly valuable for clients in many vertical markets.

Pinterest is a great example of the power in testing new media channels and programs. Digital marketing is a game of volume and math. Finding new and engagable audiences while controlling cost of customer acquisition is a key part of a robust digital program.