Pinterest has proven to be a revenue-driver for retailers, and for that reason, it has been made an important part of digital marketing strategy for many brands, including ASOS and Made.com.

Now, marketers will have even more opportunities to reach consumers on Pinterest thanks to the launch of search ads on the popular service.

Here's what marketers need to know about Pinterest's new ad offering, which had previously been tested by a number of major brands.

The ads are inserted as Pins into the search results page

On Pinterest, when a user enters a search query, Pinterest displays a search results page consisting of pins that match the query. On average, there are about 55 pins displayed per search results page.

Search ads are simple: they insert advertiser pins into the search results page and are marked as being promoted. Pinterest dynamically determines the number of ads that appear on a search results page.

Search ads are auction-based

Pinterest sells search ads the way Google sells its search ads: through an auction-based system in which advertisers specify how much they're willing to pay for each click on their ads.

There are two campaign types

Pinterest's search ads come in two campaign types: keyword campaigns and shopping campaigns.

Keyword campaigns allow advertisers to target their ads using keywords, which can optionally be grouped. Because the keywords that users search with on Pinterest might be different from other search engines given the visual nature of the service, Pinterest will suggest keywords that might be appropriate for a particular image.

Shopping campaigns give advertisers the ability to auto-generate ads from product feeds they supply to Pinterest via FTP. In the future, advertisers will also be able to use feeds through integrations with feed management providers. Shopping campaigns, because they are feed-based, give advertisers an easy way to quickly create campaigns at scale.

To help advertisers manage shopping campaigns, Pinterest allows advertisers to dynamically update these campaigns as inventory changes.

The size of the opportunity could be large

Pinterest says that every month it handles around 2bn search queries. While that pales in comparison to Google, which handles over 3.5bn searches per day, it's still not an insignificant number.

What's more, Pinterest isn't Google. It's a visual search tool, so the value of a search to brands, particularly those in industries like retail and fashion, differs from the value of a Google search.

While it remains to be seen just how productive search ads will be for advertisers, a volume of searches in the billions should give advertisers more than enough to work with.

Most searches are unbranded

The news gets better for brands active on Pinterest: according to Pinterest, 97% of its searches don't include a brand name, giving advertisers the opportunity to reach consumers who might be interested in a particular type of product but who haven't already decided on a specific brand or product.

Pinterest's global head of partnerships, Jon Kaplan, told the Wall Street Journal that this has produced "new demand" for advertisers who participated in early testing of search ads.

Pinterest is targeting the upper funnel

Pinterest sees its search ads a powerful tool for marketers looking to reach consumers in the upper funnel. According to Kaplan...

When people come to Pinterest, they’re starting earlier in their decision-making process. We saw this with the holidays — people were pinning holiday ideas as early as August. For brands, the implications to our business, that’s an amazing opportunity to reach someone at the earliest stages of decision-making.

So while it's possible that clicks on Pinterest's search ads will convert quickly, Pinterest is positioning search ads as a driver of awareness, not conversions.

Search ads are now available to Kenshoo clients

Initially, search ads are available to advertisers who are using the marketing software suite offered by Kenshoo, which is used by many search advertisers. Thanks to its integration with Kenshoo, Pinterest is now listed as an option alongside other search providers Kenshoo clients can run campaigns with, including, of course, Google.

Pinterest will reportedly add partnerships with other companies that operate ad buying platforms in the near future.

Patricio Robles

Published 2 February, 2017 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

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