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Earlier this week, I hosted Pinterest’s Head of Marketing Partners, Michael Akkerman, on a 4C webinar to discuss Pinterest’s search platform and ad offering. We know that marketers are really strapped for time during the Q4 holiday season, so we set this event to be a quick, highly-informative 30 minutes.

Pinterest Search

Being an ex-search engine marketer, I know the value of matching advertising with keyword queries and it’s one of the best data targeting options available. Not only is the searcher providing exactly what’s on their mind at that moment, but they are also actively requesting information back on that topic. When done right, keyword intent-based advertising can really provide tremendous ROI and efficiency.

Some of you may not realize that Pinterest is also a leading search engine. Pinterest averages 3 billion+ monthly searches on its platform with more than 300 million of those being visual searches  which Pinterest’s founder and CEO Ben Silbermann identifies as an important and growing trend for his business and the greater internet community.

Michael explained that users searching on Pinterest have a different intent then when searching on standard search engines which is very important to understand when advertising to this base. On standard search engines, users are looking to find specific things such as directions to a place, a piece of information, or simply getting to the website or page they want to visit.

However, on Pinterest, searchers are looking for ideas and inspiration. 97% of searches on Pinterest do not have a brand keyword in them and 73% only use one to three words in their query. Because of Pinterest’s visual-based search results of Pins (even ads are Pins on Pinterest), users can quickly fly through image and video results to serendipitously find their next source of inspiration.

In the slide presented below, Michael also shows that Pinterest users are searching for ideas much earlier than on traditional search engines because as they begin planning for key events weeks and months in advance. This gives marketers a chance to get into the consideration set of a consumer long before other advertising tactics and when they are open to learning about new brands and products.

Pinterest Search Ads

As we explored more about Pinterest’s Search Ads offering, Michael provided external research on how marketers should be thinking about where Pinterest fits in their holistic plans. For example, Pinterest Search Ads can be targeted across Pinterest and layered with interest and other data targeting options to enable advertisers to build robust campaigns that complement their other strategies.

For old search guys like me, it was great to see that Pinterest has embraced the same Broad, Phrase, and Exact matching capabilities that standard search engine marketing has perfected. By using the right match types, marketers can strategically match their ads with user queries on Pinterest with precision. Negative matching can also be used to make sure that your ads don’t appear when you don’t want them to in the search results. For example, maybe your business advertises Hawaii vacation but doesn’t sell Hawaii vacation photos. By negative matching the term photos, you can ensure that people looking for just photos of Hawaiian vacations aren’t eating up your budget.

I showed some screenshots of how 4C’s interface enables Pinterest Search Ads campaign building and how easy it is for any advertiser to build search campaigns even if they have no prior search advertising experience. Simply add keywords to your campaigns and ad groups and manage match types and bids from a very simple interface. That’s it! No mess, no fuss.

Search Ads Best Practices

We finished up this quick webinar with a few solid tips and tricks to get the most out of your Pinterest Search Ads campaigns.

Best Practice #1 – Look Beyond the Last Click. As with all advertising, measuring it properly will help you optimize the right way. Pinterest has been shown in third-party research to be a strong top-of-the-funnel technique when it comes to influencing consumers to take action. When Neustar MarketShare ran a MTA study for Pinterest ads, its model showed that Pinterest deserved 30% more credit than a standard last click model would have reported.

Michael suggested that advertisers use the Pinterest tag to track actions across the path to purchase that occur from views, saves, close-ups and clicks. This will ensure that you are not improperly measuring Pinterest’s impact.

Best Practice #2 – Structure Your Campaigns for Success.

Search engine marketers know this well. You must build your campaigns and ad groups in a way that helps you to manage them later. No more than two to four ads per Ad Group are recommended as Pinterest auto-optimizes which ads serve.

Other helpful hints when building Ad Groups include:

  • Make sure ad groups are not too granular.
  • The more tightly-themed keywords you can put into an ad group, the easier an account will be able to manage.
  • Split the ad group when you feel like the keywords vary too much and can be broken out to show different creative.

Best Practice #3 – Align Your Keyword Strategy to Pinterest. Finally, it’s important for you to get into the mind of Pinners and understand how they use Pinterest’s search engine when using Pinterest Search Ads. Remember, Pinterest is also about idea exploration and inspiration. You don’t need zillions of highly granular keyword combinations like you do on standard search engine ad offerings. Pinners prefer to search more idea-based terms on Pinterest i.e. bedroom décor ideas rather than bedroom area rug.

Q&A Follow-up

Due to the shortened time frame for this webinar, we were unable to get to questions by the attendees. As promised, I followed up with Michael after the event and was able to get some answers to your questions:

Does this work with video?

Yes, however keep in mind that video is typically used for more awareness objectives (the CPM bid floor will apply for video, even on Search). Search-only ads are most successful when the Pin is highly relevant to the searched query, to take advantage of the intent that comes with searches.

Can I just take my Google keywords and port them over?

You can, however, Pinners do search differently on Pinterest than they do on Google. If you want to port over a list to get a quick start, we recommend launching with your broad, non-branded terms only.

  • Remenber, 97% of the searches on Pinterest are non-branded. You can launch with branded terms, but volume on those terms is usually pretty low, so rely more on non-branded terms.
  • Pinners are looking for ideas and inspiration, often searching upper/mid-funnel terms like bedroom decor ideas, home decor ideas, bedroom inspiration, etc.

Why would I do keywords instead of interest targeting?

A best practice is to use both keyword and Interest targeting so your ads show across all surfaces and show to Pinners at the right moment in their decision journey. Keywords allow you to get more targeted on the Search results space specifically, whereas Interests serve only in the Home feed.

Hi, I’m wondering if we are using 1-3 words length search terms, how would you suggest advertisers to be competitive in winning bids given potentially really high competition? 

The 1-3 words suggestion is a starting point. Try initially launching on these terms and then use the search term reports to find additional, more specific terms to add to your account based on what your broader terms are matching out to.

Watch the webinar

Download the presentation slides