As social media becomes more visual, Pinterest is gaining enormous popularity. Millions of people — mostly millennial women and new mothers — have taken to collecting merchandise from around the internet and pinning it to their boards.

Seventy-five percent of these saved pins come from businesses, and 2 million people add product pins to their personal boards every day. The platform even offers a “buy” button that makes consumption exceedingly easy.

As a result, Pinterest is now valued at $11 billion, with 150 million monthly active users. For advertisers, that represents a treasure trove. So, if you’re interested in getting in on the action, here’s what you need to know.

Should you advertise on Pinterest?

Given the huge success and influence of Pinterest, the short answer is yes, you should try your hand at advertising here. Even though the bulk of Pinterest’s community is in North America (promoted pins are available only in the US, Canada, and UK), the platform is going through a global growth spurt, so there is strong potential for businesses everywhere.

The worth of advertising on Pinterest depends on your product or service. It ultimately comes down to whether your target audience matches the demographics of Pinterest.

Currently, 42 percent of online women use Pinterest, compared to a significantly smaller 13 percent of online men. Alongside those demographics, 34 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds use Pinterest, which means that it skews toward a younger crowd. Finally, some 62 percent of Pinterest users have a college degree, while 64 percent of the users are making at least $50,000 a year. With this in mind, consider whether your target demographic fits into this picture at all and whether Pinterest suits your needs.

Once you make a decision, consider the format of your ad. On Pinterest, pictures are king. These don’t have to be photos of people or food; they could be interesting infographics. Either way, remember that any image should be clean, high-resolution and strongly communicative of your intended message. Be sure to add descriptions to your images with a link to your website as well.

It’s also important to remember that given the layout of Pinterest, vertically oriented or portrait-style pins take up more space, thus increasing your chances that people will see and interact with your ad.

Choosing the perfect type of Pinterest ad for your business

Since Pinterest is pretty new to the ad game, its catalog is still a work in progress. As of now, Pinterest basically allows video and image-based advertisements that can be optimized for different goals.

Before embarking on your Pinterest advertising expedition, understand the functions that both of these formats serve for users on the site in order to produce the most effective ad possible.

Image advertising

On Pinterest, image-based advertising should be striking. One quick tip: If you’re going to insert your brand’s logo into the ad, make sure it's done tastefully so that the overall image does not suffer.

Video advertising

Another feature in Pinterest’s advertising catalog is the ability to create promoted pins with videos in them. This is great for building brand equity and loyalty. Your video ads should bring your brand to life and show people how it can enhance their lives. This can be done with how-to videos as well as product and service demonstrations.

Does video advertising work though? According to early testing, yes. Before launching video advertising, Pinterest tested this new format with several companies, including Old El Paso. The results were that Old El Paso saw significant boosts in its brand metrics and that the promoted video ads were four times more memorable than other non-video ads.

Optimizing your pins

You can choose several options to optimize your pins and reach your specific goals. Pinterest offers the following tools:

  • Buyable pins: Allows you to add a buy button to pins so people can purchase products directly from Pinterest.
  • Promoted apps: Pinterest describes it as "a new way to help pinners discover and then download iOS apps directly from the pin." The promoted pins have an "install" button below the image to stimulate immediate action.
  • One-tap promoted pins: It takes users from the pin directly to the source where the content originated.
  • Cinematic Pins: The images promoted on your pin move as people scroll the page.
  • Promoted videos: Can run for up to five minutes and move as people scroll, in a way that is similar to how cinematic pins work. When a user clicks on the pin, the video expands to a new tab, where the video is displayed with a list of relevant products.

How much will your Pinterest ad cost?

Traffic campaigns

The cost of traffic campaigns on Pinterest is determined by your maximum cost-per-click (CPC). This is the highest amount of money that you are willing to pay for a person clicking through to your site via a promoted pin. This maximum amount is referred to as a bid, and it is not necessarily your promoted pin’s CPC. It is, however, the highest amount that you would have to pay. There is no minimum bid.

Engagement campaigns

The cost of an engagement campaign is determined via your maximum cost-per-engagement (CPE). This bid refers to the maximum amount that you are willing to pay for some kind of engagement with your promoted pin. Engagements include closeups, repins and clicks on your promoted pin. It should be noted that, for each of these actions, you’ll be charged separately. There is no minimum bid for engagement campaigns though.

Awareness campaigns

The cost is determined by your maximum cost-per-thousand-impressions (CPM). Your maximum CPM is the most you are willing to pay for every 1,000 people who see your promoted pin. Unlike the other campaigns, there is a minimum bid of $5.

Creating your first campaign

To advertise on Pinterest, you have to create a business account. You can do that by converting your existing account into a business account or by creating a new account to your business.

After that, the next step is publishing pins. You can only promote pins you have posted on your profile, so before starting a campaign, you have to make sure all the pins you want to promote are published on your business page.

The good news is that, after you do that, you are ready to start your campaign!

To set up a campaign use the following steps:

  • Click on the "+" button on your profile, and select “create ad.” You can also start your campaign by going straight to
  • Select what type of campaign you want to create: awareness, engagement or traffic.
  • Name your campaign.
  • Select the start and (optional) end dates, and set your daily budget.
  • Pick a pin to promote. On the “pick a pin” screen, you can see your most clicked and most repinned pins from the last 30 days. This can be helpful to identify your most valuable content that is worth promoting.
  • Click in "add more details," and choose a target audience for your promoted pin.
  • Determine where you’ll send pinners who click on your promoted pin. For the best results, create a page that is targeted to Pinterest visitors.
  • Use Pinterest ads targeting to determine the audience you want to reach. You can select specific keywords, locations, languages, devices and genders for your advertising.
  • Define your maximum CPC bid, the most you would pay per desired action on Pinterest (e.g., click and go to your website).

Your campaign is ready to be promoted. Before it becomes available on Pinterest, though, your campaign will be reviewed by Pinterest's staff to make sure it follows the platform's ad policies. Each campaign can take up to 24 hours for approval.

Follow the best practices for the best results

Create content that suits the site. You don’t just want a great ad; you want a great pin. How do you do that?

  • Choose a high-quality image for your promoted pin. That means no pixelation!
  • Clearly communicate what to expect when clicking your link. If this is not immediately communicated in the picture, then description text is essential.
  • Be aware of attribution. Give credit where credit is due in the description. Meanwhile, protect your brand's content with a logo or URL in your photo.
  • Be concise in your descriptions (fewer than 200 words). Also, consider SEO.

Pin away

Although not as obvious as Facebook and Twitter, Pinterest is an underused platform in digital advertising. But that's mostly due to how recently Pinterest opened itself up to advertisers.

That also means that for brands, Pinterest is a whole new frontier of social advertising where the competition is less stiff. To reap the benefits, consider getting in early and carving out some space for your brand. Then, get pinning!

Examples of advertising on Pinterest

Ligia Aguilhar

Ligia Aguilhar

Ligia Aguilhar is a Content Specialist at Strike Social and holds an MS from Medill. She was born in Brazil and has traveled the world, from Silicon Valley to Seoul, to cover tech.