Pinterest Launches Auction-Based Pricing to Take on Google’s Ad Business

Also adds frequency capping

Pinterest is out to prove that it's a performance-driven advertising platform that can compete head-to-head with Google.

Starting today, advertisers will be able to bid on cost-per-impression through an auction—much like Google's Display Network—to set prices. Brands can already buy ads based on cost-per-click and cost-per-engagement through the auction, but up until now, brands have had to buy CPM-based ads at a fixed price. In theory, brands will be able to optimize their media spend better to achieve either more impressions or cheaper ad prices with the new tool.

Pinterest has also added frequency capping to limit the number of ads that consumers see at once. Advertisers are able to control their own frequency cap.

Home Depot, JCPenney and General Mills were test partners for the program, Pinterest said.

U.S. and U.K. advertisers can use the new tool through Pinterest's self-serve platform (dubbed Ads Manager) or through its marketing developers program, where ad-tech companies that help brands create content can buy ads on the site. The self-serve option is only open to small and medium-sized brands, while bigger brands work with a Pinterest rep or an ad-tech company to organize their media buys.

Pinterest has been building products and features to compete with Google and Amazon for a couple of years. In June, the site launched a shopping cart and visual-search tool that mirror Amazon's features. It also recently launched new ad-serving options like look-alike targeting and retargeting.

Pinterest's also made several notable hires in the past year as it looks to ramp up its ad business. Snapchat exec Gunnard Johnson was recently named head of measurement science and insights and ex Google sales vet Jon Kaplan joined as head of global sales in February.