Pinterest Ads: Creative Autonomy or Insidious Soft-Sells?

Though Pinterest was launched less than 5 year ago, the online visual discovery tool is currently the world’s third most popular social networking site in terms of referral traffic and daily active users (Wilson 2014). While the site is still popularly used by homemakers collecting new recipes or brides-to-be planning their wedding, Pinterest has also developed into a powerful platform for brands to test their visual content marketing and discover beneficial new insights about their consumer’s wants.


In the wake of brands’ opportunity to advertise on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, Pinterest has recently rolled out “Pinterest Ads” to advertisers this past August. Yet in contrast to the hard-sell advertisements of Facebook ads, paid tweets, or sponsored Instagram posts, Pinterest ads allows brands to market their products in a break-through creative way: attractive images of style, home decor, or wedding inspiration are framed as expert how-to tips, which help creative-minded pinners achieve their individual goals. This visual bookmarks (known as “pins”) are also direct web traffic funnels that brands can gear towards new and current consumers.


While Pinterest paid advertising is still in beta testing, big brands have been using Pinterest as an important referral traffic source since 2012 (Feely 2014). As a result of carefully monitored Pinterest analytics and strategic content campaigns, brands such as Kraft Foods have enjoyed immense success in terms of generating thousands of clicks back to their respective sites (Oswegi 2014).


Closer examination of these brands’ successful content strategies reveal a significant new human insight about Pinterest’s 70+ million users: pinners respond positively to content that is tailored to aid and enhance their individual creative goals.


An unique aspect about consumers on Pinterest is that they are looking for support and inspiration on how to achieve their creative goals, rather than looking for a “quick fix” product that complete the project for them (Rodriguez 2014). Pinterest users want to feel autonomous and a sense of personal satisfaction towards their personal creative goals, whether that means impressing others with delicious cooking or how to plan a stress-free dream vacation (Harrow 2014).


Yet these pinners needs a little help to achieve their objectives, which is where the brands can reach them. In regards to this newfound insight on the Pinterest audience, brands are using the visual content marketing platform to showcase their products as inspirational assets that aid consumers in accomplishing endeavors like planning trips, organizing holiday/special events, exploring new recipes, or other various projects and interests.
In terms of the consumer packaged goods and recipe industry, Kraft Foods is a noticeably successful case study that utilizes helpful, individualize Pinterest content. According to the Pinterest for Business blog, Kraft joined Pinterest in early 2012 when they noticed a high amount of their target audience spending time on the site (Feeley 2014). After running tests with the Pinterest analytics tool and reviewing click-through-rates, Kraft’s content marketing team noticed that recipes tied to time-sensitive seasonal or social events performed the best out of any of their pins (Feeley 2014). For example, “Layered Pumpkin Desert” and other similar recipes often do well organically on Pinterest around the Thanksgiving season. In response to the trend, Kraft’s content marketers will collaborate with each brand team to create a strategic and visually appealing Pinterest marketing campaign focused around their most popular Thanksgiving dishes keyword phrases. With the addition of Pinterest ads, Kraft can now nurture each consumer’s particular dish interest by offering a variety of Thanksgiving-related recipes to a segment of promoted pins (Feeley 2014).

Not only are these pins specific to the needs of the party-planning pinner, Kraft also caters to their consumers’ personal creative goals by supplementing their visuals with emotive-triggering copy: “These layered pumpkin dessert bars were such a hit at one reviewer’s home, she was asked to make them for every family gathering!” ( 2014). This copy draws upon the knowledge that the consumer is interested in recipes that will be shared and, hopefully, impressive to their friends and family. Therefore, Kraft’s Pinterest marketing plan allows the consumer to discover, share, and use Kraft products to achieve their emotive-tied goal of creating an extraordinary holiday dish for loved ones. Simultaneously, Kraft has successfully enticed thousands of consumer to visit their website and favorable consider their products (Feeley 2014). Currently, Pinterest is the greatest sources of referral traffic for (Neff 2014).


While brands may boast that Pinterest  presents a game-changing opportunity for brands to understand their consumers’ desires and responses to content, I have take their optimism with a grain of salt. These tailored ads make the consumer feel powerful and encourage them to consider the brand as an asset to their goal-sett; but are these brands really an asset or simply selling things people don’t need?


What do you think? Will Pinterest advertising prove to be a win-win situation for consumers and brands? On the flip side, do you think Pinterest advertising was just a matter of time? Leave your comments below!

Sources Used

Feeley, J. (2014, August). Success Story: Kraft Foods.

Harrow, S. (2014, September 10). 5 Pinterest Marketing Tactics That Produce Big Results.

Neff, J. (2014, September 10). Kraft Says It Gets Four Times Better ROI from Content Than Ads.

Oswegi, A. (2014, January 26). The State of Social Media: Updates and What You Need to Know.

Rodriguez, M. (2014, September 8). 4 things you should know about Pinterest’s Promoted Pins.

Wilson, R. (2014, August 21). [Report] Economic Value of Pinterest Content Reaches All-Time High.

One thought on “Pinterest Ads: Creative Autonomy or Insidious Soft-Sells?

  1. I consider those paid advertisements in places such as Pintrest and Instagram as insidious though subtle enough to go almost unnoticed. I this day and age you just scroll past something that you are not interested in, so its nothing more than a .2 second annoyance.


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s