Pinterest Ads Are Invading Google’s Search Turf

Promoted Pins can be bought with keywords

Pinterest is betting that it knows what users want, even better than Google, and the social-pinning firm’s nascent ad business hinges on convincing advertisers it can deliver.

The San Francisco company is starting to sell Promoted Pins, which can be bought by keywords. The ads show up when viewers peruse main categories and when they conduct searches. On mobile, where consumer intent can be cloudy, a platform like Pinterest may provide some clarity. Users plan their trips, their parties, their wardrobes by sharing images and links to their favorite brands and products.

“I definitely think keywords will work amazingly well on Pinterest,” said Jesse Pujji, CEO of the marketing vendor Ampush. “You are pinning your interest—if that’s not intent, I don’t know what is. I think it will be a very powerful tool for marketers, both brand and direct response.”

Ampush, Curalate, Piqora and other vendors are waiting for Pinterest to open up its platform similarly to Facebook and Twitter. They want to build products that extend their clients’ campaigns. But while Pinterest is still honing its marketing platform, it has had recent updates like guided search.

“Guided search is different from other search engines because the results come from content that’s been handpicked and organized by tens of millions of people who have a variety of interests,” Pinterest rep Annie Ta said.

Mobile is a $31.5 billion market, per eMarketer, half of which is search and dominated by Google—but perhaps not for long. Pinterest says 75 percent of its usage stems from on-the-go consumers.

“For [Pinterest] ads in search, marketers can target specific search terms,” Ta said.

And pin their hopes on big results.