New Features in Pinterest: Search Ads and Expanded Targeting

In January 2017, Pinterest released Search Ads for Pinterest to a select number of businesses, with access coming to additional advertisers in the coming months. Finally, in mid-October, Pinterest announced that search ads are available for all advertisers in their self-serve platform, Pinterest Ads Manager.

This new search campaign feature revolves around utilizing keywords to reach users.

This channel has made some exciting announcements this year, and search ads are sure to be a great addition to your advertising toolbox.

Here is what you need to know about getting started with Pinterest campaigns.

How to Get Started With Search Ads for Pinterest

You will need to have a Pinterest business account to utilize the Ads Manager feature. You can easily convert a personal account to a business account. Whether you need a Pinterest account altogether or you need to convert a personal account, this post is your guide to getting started with Pinterest business accounts.

You’ll also want to make sure that your website is confirmed with Pinterest, as only verified businesses and services are able to run Pinterest ads at this time.

Setting Up an Ad in Pinterest, Also Known as a Promoted Pin

Since you can only promote pins from your profile, you’ll want to set up any pins before creating campaigns. Similar to other PPC channels, Pinterest has campaign structures where advertisers can by impression, pin clicks or engagement.

Use the red plus sign dropdown to select “Upload image”. You can also select “Save from site” if you have something like a blog post that you’ll be promoting.

Search for your image, add your destination URL with any tracking information and select “Continue.”

On the next screen, select the board or create a new board to place your pin on.

Select “see it now” or “close” and you’ll be ready to begin building your campaign.


If you want more tips on creating and editing promoted pins, check out these suggestions from Pinterest.

Setting Up Your Pinterest Campaign

Select “Ads” > “Overview” in the top navigation bar.

Select the type of campaign you want and click the “Promote” button.

Depending on your goals, I would recommend testing the Engagement campaign, which charges you for each closeup, repin and click on your pins, or the Traffic campaigns, which only charges you for clicks to your website. In this example, I will be using an engagement campaign.

Name your campaigns and set your budgets. The lifetime spend cap is not required.

For placements, you can select one or both of the following:

  • Browse: This means your Promoted Pins will appear as people browse Pinterest, including their home feeds and related Pins.
  • Search: This allows you to target folks as they’re searching for ideas via the search function and related Pins.

It’s important to note that your selection of these cannot be changed once you set up your campaign. You are automatically opted into both of these placements when setting up a campaign.

Ad Groups and Targeting Setup

The next steps will setup your specific targeting criteria and your ad group. (Ad groups were also released in January 2017.)

Name your ad group, set the dates for it to run (or let it run indefinitely) and choose your ad group budget.

For audiences, you can now target website visitors, lists of customers, engagement audiences and actalike audiences. If you want to learn more about how to leverage those different audiences, check out this post from JD Prater.

Important note about actalike audiences: You must be using the Pinterest pixel for this feature to work and, similar to other channels, you have to accrue the audience.

Additional targeting that can be leveraged in your campaigns are interest targeting and keyword targeting. Select or search for relevant topics you’d like to include (if any). Remember that adding interest targeting on top of keyword targeting will narrow your audience.

Next, add your keyword targeting. By using keywords, your pins are eligible to show up in search results. If no interests are selected, keywords also help Pinterest categorize your pins for appearances in the home and category feeds.

You’ll want to select a match type for your keywords, otherwise, they will all be set to broad match.

If you need more information about any of the targeting options, here’s a full list of what to know about each.

You’ll need to set your location targeting, language, device, and gender targeting, as well as your max CPC. Pinterest does a good job of letting you know what other advertisers are paying and how competitive your bids are among other advertisers.

Important note on geographic targeting: If you don’t target the entire United States, you can only target DMA regions at this time.

Choose “Pick a Pin” to select the ad that you setup earlier.

Once you have located the pin you’d like to promote, set the name of the pin and make sure the destination URL is correct. Then select “Promote Pin” to finish.


Expanded Targeting Options and Pinterest Taste Graph

In late September, Pinterest announced that it is rolling out expanded targeting along with The Pinterest Taste Graph, which looks like a Venn Diagram of circles. Thanks to this new way of tracking users’ tastes, preferences, and interests, there is now an expanded amount of targeting (5,000 new options, according to Tech Crunch). According to Pinterest, these targeting options will continue to grow as users’ tastes expand.

Below is a video about the Pinterest Taste Graph for more information:

Pinterest has a lot going on these days! I’m excited to see what 2018 has in store for this channel.

Have you tried out Pinterest Search Ads? What were your results? We’d love to hear your experiences in the comments!