Pinterest Ads: get in early for cheap ads that keep on giving

Photo: Roxanne Ready/Flickr

Photo: Roxanne Ready/Flickr

My other company, I Like That Lamp, gets 90% of its social media traffic from Pinterest - not surprising for a business in the craft industry, but still a very nice driver of relevant traffic for relatively little effort.

Having a Pinterest Business profile for a couple of years now, I'd been granted beta access to Promoted Pins. But only recently did I start experimenting with the Ad platform - and boy, does it pay to get in early with this one.   

Long maligned as a social media platform just for mid-western housewives, Pinterest's paid ad platform is currently vastly under-utilized (and actually, still invite-only).

After experimenting with both paid campaigns as well as tactics to drive organic traction, I believe Pinterest should be a top priority for almost any e-commerce brand. I'll discuss tactics to supercharge organic reach and traffic in a future post, but its worth addressing two reasons why Pinterest's new paid Ad platform is so compelling. 

1. Ads that last forever

Unlike other online advertising systems, Sponsored Pins don't just disappear after your ad campaign ends.  A successful Pinterest ad campaign generates thousands of impressions during the campaign, but there is also a substantial "long tail" of organic impressions that could continue forever (in internet years!), because your image has been re-pinned by users and will stay visible indefinitely. Here's some impression stats from an Sponsored Pin I ran for I Like That Lamp.

Ad impressions during my paid Pinterest campaign. Although the paid campaign ended on 5/8/15, organic impressions continued on naturally after that as my Pin was 're-pinned' and distributed further throughout the platform.   

Ad impressions during my paid Pinterest campaign. Although the paid campaign ended on 5/8/15, organic impressions continued on naturally after that as my Pin was 're-pinned' and distributed further throughout the platform.   

Here is why: Sponsored Pins which have been re-pinned by other users will show in search results forever. To maximize this effect, you'll want to optimize the keywords used in your Pin description.

This is truly a case of "the early bird gets the worm" - in theory, the longer your pins have been around, the more they'll be re-pinned. It's compound interest for social media - the earlier the start, the more your results will build on each other.

2. Cheap Ads

As a relatively new Ad platform, Pinterest's Cost-Per-Clicks are a bargain compared with more established advertising platforms like Facebook and Google Adwords. Like other digital advertising platforms, pricing is based on the competitiveness of the keywords used, but Pinterest is widely recognized as being a relatively cheap advertising platform. The aggressive pricing reflects the fact that Pinterest Advertising is still new and currently invite-only.

My very first Sponsored Pin campaign averaged $0.20 per paid click, and $0.10 per click accounting for 'earned' (organic) clicks: 

Stats from my Pinterest Ads dashboard for a Sponsored Pin. Pinterest splits out CPC (cost per paid click back to your website) and eCPC ('earned' cost per click), the difference being clicks made during the campaign directly from your ad, versus clicks made on a re-pinned ad or after your campaign ended.

Stats from my Pinterest Ads dashboard for a Sponsored Pin. Pinterest splits out CPC (cost per paid click back to your website) and eCPC ('earned' cost per click), the difference being clicks made during the campaign directly from your ad, versus clicks made on a re-pinned ad or after your campaign ended.

The Pinterest Ads dashboard shows the CPC and eCPC of keywords so you can refine your keyword strategy in future campaigns. One current limitation is being unable to pause under-performing keywords during an active campaign. 

what's next?

It's likely that Pinterest Ads will continue to get more expensive as more advertisers jump on board and recognize the power of this platform. Being an early adopter, as always, comes with cost advantages - but also the ability to establish content whose traffic-generating effects compound over time. 

Coming soon: strategies for driving organic traffic from Pinterest. click "subscribe via email" below so you don't miss it!