Pinterest dives into video advertising

By Alicja Gados

Pinterest users love video, and it shows with 60% growth in saved video over the previous year. Pinterest has about 100 million monthly users, and is now trying to turn that active user base into revenue. The company is trying to capitalize on the huge demand for video.  

Pinterest is relatively new to ads. They first introduced ads in 2014 in promoted pins.  Other services, like e-commerce capabilities have been added since then.

Promoted Video now available

As of last August (2016), advertisers in the US and in the UK can purchase video ads, a capability called promoted video. Video is important to advertisers, and Pinterest is leveraging on that fact to push it’s online advertising business. The capability is currently only available on mobile. These video ads will show up in users feed but will also appear in search results. The ads may also show up in different parts of the app over time, giving the video ad longevity. 

You'll be able to make a purchase from promoted videos on Pinterest. Image from

You'll be able to make a purchase from promoted videos on Pinterest. Image from

Video ads have already been aggressively pursued by other social media giants, including Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and also search engine Google.  Going in on the fun, Pinterest will be competing against all these giants for the customers’ attention, and for their dollar.  But Pinterest has a unique advantage over these advertisers: more Pinterest users come to the app to shop.  Not only that, but 75% of all content on the site is created by business. Users of Pinterest specifically visit the app to get ideas and inspiration for things they would like to purchase.  Inspiration for things such as exploring ideas for house projects, researching fashion and style trends, or places to visit on a vacation or trip.

Each ad is shown as a preview in their activity feed, and if a viewer wants to see the full length of the video, they just click on the ad.

Pinterest Users are there to shop

Pinterest is one of the better choices when it comes to video advertising.  Pinterest is very visual, and viewers are much more likely to make a purchase. A study done by Mary Meeker shows that 55% of users of Pinterest are there to shop, in contrast with just 12% on other social media networks. A poll taken by Pinterest users reveals that 70% of users are motivated to take action after viewing an ad, and they are more inclined to buy.

Pinterest users are unique in that they are there to shop, so it’s natural for Pinterest to try and make it easier for them to do that. With that, they don’t have to push marketers views on users so much as offering a call to action.

Video has already been available on Pinterest for some time now, but now, video is available as ads for the first time.  Video ads are added to a line up of ads already available, including buyable ‘pins’.  You can read more about buyable pins this article from a few months ago.

How Pinterest charges for video ads

Pinterest will charge for ads and for video impressions.  An impression is every time an ad is taken from it’s source, and counts whether or not the viewer clicked on the ad or not.  Each time an ad is fetched, it counts as an ad ‘impression.’  Pinterest allows marketers to feature buyable pins below the video at no extra charge. 

Video ads have a 5 minute limit, but people have a short attention spans for long video that on average doesn’t exceed 2 and a half minutes. So many ads are much shorter than this.  What’s more important is marketers really need to ‘hook’ their audience in the first minute. (Certainly tolerance for viewing length depends on how viewers connect with what they are watching, as shown by viewers watching hours of Netflix shows or sportscast.) But Pinterest says they would most likely adjust the length allowed.

The number of videos uploaded to Pinterest has grown in popularity over the last year. Popular video content includes beauty and hair tutorials, workouts, home improvement how-to, cooking videos and other home construction videos.  The projected ad spend for video is estimated to be about $12.8 billion USD in 2018, up 60% from 2015, which was $7.7 billion. 

How the ads will look

Pinterest ads will be much like Facebook and Twitter ads, which autoplay from start to finish. The ad will also appear as a preview in a users home feed, and sound can be activated by clicking on the ad.

BareMinerals has used the ads to showcase beauty products for purchase.  The ads run through the native video player from Pinterest and marketers can browse up to six product pins (buyable pins) below the video. For example, a marketer can showcase how to use a product or multiple products in a video, then post up to six buyable pins under the videos to allow the user to make a purchase.

Current video ads on Pinterest

The video ad capability was rolled out with 12 selected launch partners. Among companies advertising with ads on Pinterest include Purina, Universal Pictures, General Mills, Behr paint, kate spade new york and bareMinerals makeup.

General Mills tested the videos with their Old El Paso brand, revealed that prompted video ads were four times more memorable than ads not using video on Pinterest (Source:  Old El Paso likes the fact that users come to Pinterest to check out cooking ideas or show recipes and have a high engagement rate.  Video helps the company capture these users and showcase their products, with great success.

Clients observed high completion rates in video ads, compared to non video ads, regardless of video length.   

Examples of ads

Pinterest promoted video: The Secret Life of Pets

Universal Pictures is using Pinterest ads to promote their latest movie, The Secret Life of Pets. Image from

Universal Pictures is using Pinterest ads to promote their latest movie, The Secret Life of Pets. Image from

Universal Pictures was also one of the initial launch partners for video ads, and use the capability to promote their latest movie, The Secret Life of Pets. You can watch the video here:

Pinterest promoted video: bareMinerals makeup

Pinterest video ad for bareMinerals makeup with buyable pins below shown. Image from

Pinterest video ad for bareMinerals makeup with buyable pins below shown. Image from

The video ads show how to use their products, and feature product buyable ‘pins’ below the video on products that are featured in the video. You can watch it here:

The current market valuation of Pinterest is $11 billion and the company generated $100 million in revenue in 2015.

Read more about Pinterest here.  


Sources and Further Reading