It is getting harder and harder to ignore Pinterest, especially if you’re in the ecommerce business.  Pinterest has been growing steadily every year and user engagement is skyrocketing thanks to Pinterest’s devotion to user feedback that has led to consistent innovation and improvement of the platform.

Pinterest’s interface for ads has also steadily improved, offering refined capabilities and targeting options that are beginning to rival their nearest competitors (I’m looking at you Facebook/Instagram and Twitter).

In this blog post, we’re going to review Pinterest’s targeting capabilities and options.  Knowing what’s available and which targeting tactics to choose will help you increase your reach, find your best customers and increase the performance of your campaigns.  Here we go…

Interest Targeting

Interest Targeting lets you get your Promoted Pins in front of people based on their implied interests by tracking the interactions of their user’s category and home feeds.  With thousands of different Interest targeting options, you can use broader terms to increase reach or you can choose relevant sub-categories that drill down to more specific options that are more relevant to your products/services or campaign goals.

In our experience, the best practice here is to keep your targeting tight.  For example, if you’re looking to target mountain bikers (my favorite sport), don’t just target the high-level Interest option “Sport” or even “Sport > Cycling”.

Conduct a “mountain biking” search in the “Add Interests” search field and drill down to the “Sport > Cycling > Types of Cycling > Mountain Biking” Interest category.  This will ensure that you target the right people who are not just interested in Cycling, but more specifically interested in the niche sport of mountain biking.

Pinterest add interests

Keyword Targeting

You can reach and target people who are actively searching specific things to make, buy, or do… and who are ready to act. According to Pinterest, more than 40% of clicks come from search results so this is a great way to increase sales/actions from people actively looking for your products and services.

Just like most other platforms that offer keyword targeting, Pinterest offers different match types such as broad/phrase/exact and negative keywords.  At the campaign level, you can view or add negative keywords.  At the ad group level, you’re able to view or add keywords, as well as negatives so it’s easier to manage them from the ad set.  Pinterest has added a search term report, too, so that you can optimize search terms with more precision from data insights.

Choosing which keywords to use is always the crux of this type of targeting, but there a couple of ways to make this more precise and easier.  For example, typing in a couple of primary terms into the keyword tool prompts several suggestions.

For example, I typed in the phrase “mountain biking” and now I can choose from a list of related terms to extend my reach.  Also, as you include more keywords into the search box you can view potential audience reach (monthly active users).  You’ll also get a hint of how narrow or broad your targeting is using the selected keywords.  Be selective though, some of the terms will be relevant while others will not (just like with any other keyword suggestion tool).

Pinterest keyword targeting

Another good option for finding relevant keywords is to simply do a search from your own feed and look at the suggestions that Pinterest provides.  Again, I typed the phrase “mountain biking” into the search field and Pinterest made several suggestions worth considering.

Pinterest keyword search

And once the results load, you’ll see even more keyword themes to explore right below the search field in the little oval boxes.  In this instance, clicking on “Gear” led to a search results page where… you got it… there are more keyword options available.

Pinterest keyword search gear

Next time you’re in need of some good keyword targeting options, try these techniques.

Audience Targeting

Audience targeting is a way of showing ads to the people who are most likely to know your brand, interact with your brand and be receptive to your products or offers.  Using your own advertiser data, you can target your website visitor list, customers or prospects from your CRM or people who have already interacted with you on the Pinterest platform.  You know, good ol’ fashioned retargeting.  Here’s a quick summary:

  • Customer Lists – upload existing customer emails (or mobile ad ID’s) using a CSV file. Pinterest then compares that to the people who have existing accounts on the platform.  Once you have at least 100 matches, you’ll get the green light to begin targeting those people with your Promoted Pin(s).  Obviously, your final audience list will most likely be smaller than your seed list that you uploaded so make sure your upload is as thorough and comprehensive as possible.  But once the audience is ready, you can choose to include or exclude that audience in your ad targeting.
  • Site Visitors – just what it sounds like. This is an audience built off of people who have already visited your site or Pinterest content.  To create visitor audiences, you’ll need to have the Pinterest tag setup properly.  Your options are similar to other platforms here where you can target the entire site or specific URLs.  Rely on general retargeting best practices when setting up Site Visitor audiences.
  • Engagement – Target people who have previously engaged with your Pinterest content or your website.
  • Actalike – think “lookalike”. Like on other platforms, Actalike audiences are found by identifying people who are similar to your existing audience(s).  Pinterest finds new people for you to target by using data and behavioral info about people on Pinterest (similar searches, content views, repins, saves, etc.).

Pinterest create audience

Layer on Location, Device, Language and Gender Targeting Capabilities

Lastly, you can target users using common Location, Device, Language and Gender settings.  It goes without saying, but targeting people in the correct locations that speak the language your ads/website are written in on the device that leads to the best user experience is vitally important.  And sometimes, we want to target different genders separately, or not at all.  Of course, there are settings for all the above.

Pinterest gender location languages devices targeting

Some quick tips on choosing location, device and gender settings:

  • Gender – like in the mountain biking examples above, it is important to understand the needs of your audience. In this case, there are major differences in bike geometry, equipment, and gear.  Make sure your ads are specific to these gender distinctions.
  • Device – according to Pinterest, more than 85% of Pinterest traffic comes from mobile devices – and that number seems to be going up all the time. Unless your website is not mobile friendly, your targeting and messaging should be optimized for mobile.
  • Location – make sure you choose a location setting that reflects your ability to deliver your products and services to those regions

Wrapping Up

Pinterest user behavior and platform intent make it a very unique opportunity for marketers.  By knowing your target audience and understanding the levers you have available to target the right people, Pinterest makes it relatively easy to reach their users.  Let us know how you’re using the platform @ppchero.  As always, we love hearing from you!


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