Marketing through Pinterest

Advertising through Pinterest is a combination of two of our favorite things! Pinterest allows users to collect and organize inspirational or lifestyle-oriented photos that pertain to their hobbies or passions. We have been patiently waiting for Pinterest’s big move to begin incorporating paid advertising, which Adweek reported is planned for as early as Q2![1] Paid pins will be targeted to users’ interests and will be marked differently than organic content.

The image provided below by Digiday illustrates how promoted pins will appear, with a clear icon spelling out the promoted content (see within the red outlined box), similar to Facebook and Twitter’s paid content marks:

Pinterest Board

Image from Digiday

In anticipation for the big move towards paid advertising in the platform, we did some digging into the history between marketing and Pinterest to get a better idea of what these changes may mean. What we found was that Pinterest has already been experimenting with the advertising realm since 2012 through a strategy called affiliate marketing.

Affiliate marketing is a performance-based advertising vehicle in which businesses give compensation to one or more “affiliates” for each new user that is reached from the affiliates own marketing efforts.  Unbeknownst to the average user, Pinterest was automatically swapping out the links behind product pins, using a third-party service called Skimlinks with its own affiliate links. A pin that points to a product on Amazon, for instance, will direct the user through to the product page with a Pinterest affiliate code thrown in for good measure. Should that person actually make a purchase, Pinterest earns a referral fee.[2]  NorBella Digital Buyer and avid Pinterest user, Lindsay Khouri was surprised to learn that Pinterest had been implementing this strategy, and wonders how much they have made off of her!

While we don’t know for sure how Pinterest’s shift to paid advertising will play out for brands, we do know that it will come at a hefty premium of almost $1M-$2M.[3] As we saw with affiliate marketing, we don’t think Pinterest’s switch to paid advertising will turn users off completely because the brands being pinned will (hopefully) relate to the user and the things they have shown interest in on the platform. The visual element of Pinterest offers a multitude of opportunities for brands and businesses to target their audiences in creative ways. We are excited to see what brands Pinterest will target us with!


Image from

The Native Advertising Hype

Native, native, native. It’s a word, dare we say it – over used, in advertising and marketing. A simple Google search for “native advertising” yields 243M+ results, with the latest published within hours of our search. What does it mean? What does it do? Native advertising is the practice of using content to build trust and engagement with your target audience.

With so much swirling around about this new marketing tactic, we attended a panel discussion hosted by BIMA Boston, with moderator and head of Digital Brand Initiatives at IAB, Peter Minnium. Panelists included Mike Dyer of The Daily Beast, Lindsay Nelson of Slate and fellow media industry folks Sean Corcoran of MediaHub/Mullen and Sonny Kim of PGR Media. Here are our thoughts on what you need to know:

Emphasis on content creation. Creating engaging and high quality content that resonates with your target audience is crucial to native advertising, because in today’s world there is infinite space but not infinite interest.[1] The “best” content incorporates both key business challenges, as well as the target audience’s pre-existing behaviors. We can always create a native experience, but the viewer is ultimately who determines if it is a native ad by engaging.[2] Sonny Kim noted that, “It’s the role of the agency work collaboratively with clients to create the content that they deserve!”

Disruptive versus Non-Disruptive Ads. Interruption-based marketing can be an annoyance to the consumer, and not the best choice for marketers as audiences have the ability to fast-forward through commercials or bypass unwanted ads. Using native ads, publishers and advertisers can work to gain the trust of their consumers by integrating content into a platform so that viewers simply feel that the ad belongs.[3] For example, you may see a promoted Tweet from a brand you don’t follow as you scroll through your Twitter feed.

What will happen to CTR? CTR was the topic of much debate among the panelists as they discussed whether or not the usage of native advertising would diminish the value of CTR. Peter Minnium argued that CTR will soon become irrelevant due to the fact that the native experience cannot be properly measured by a click. The panelists did not reach a conclusion on the best way to measure ROI of native ads, but some alternative tools that can be utilized are post impressions, time on site and engagement. NorBella takes post impression activity, time on site and engagement rates, just to name a few, into consideration. (We could go on and on about this, it’s worth its own post!)

Is Going Viral the End-Game? There tends to be the assumption that native advertising only aspires to generate that “next best thing,” especially by leveraging the organic power of social media. We don’t think that content always has to be in real-time, but thinking strategically about your ad placement is certainly important. Native advertising can still be highly successful if it addresses a consumer need or pre-existing problem, and connects to that consumer. Content shouldn’t be created with a goal of going viral. If you do something great enough, consumers will connect with it!

While the native advertising landscape is continually evolving, we completely agree with Sean Corcoran, who noted, “Native advertising is a tool, an innovative solution to a business problem.” We are excited for the collaboration that it will create across the industry and within our own agency as we work in stride to build campaigns and content for our clients.