Pinterest Adds “Promoted Pins”


A pin a day…

I’ll admit it.

I’m a Pinaholic.

For those of you unfamiliar with the term, I applaud you for your self-control and/or healthy distance from the website Pinterest. ‘Pinaholics’ are Pinterest fanatics: people who spend inordinate amounts of time on the website, people who constantly refer to the website in daily conversation, people who write their dissertations about it… (Who, me?)

If you’re reading this and have never even heard of the site, give it a browse here.


Pinterest is unique from other social media in that, despite the user’s ability to follow friends, re-pin other users’ posts, and comment on pins, it’s primarily a fairly individualized experience. The website’s about page calls Pinterest a “tool for collecting the things you love.” And unlike Facebook and Twitter, there are no ads on the website.

Until now, that is.

Screen Shot 2013-09-26 at 2.53.45 PM

Sample Pinterest user’s homepage

Pinterest users received an email from CEO Ben Silbermann on Thursday that outlined the company’s cautious next steps towards introducing advertisements on the website.  These promotions will come in the form of “promoted pins” from select companies that align with the Pinterest user’s interests and likes. The goal is for the advertisements to be transparent, relevant, and non-intrusive. In his email, Silbermann writes, “I know some of you may be thinking, ‘Oh great…here come the banner ads.’ But we’re determined to not let that happen.” (You can read the rest of the email on the company’s blog, here).


So far, there has been no large outcry to this announcement. Maybe users expected it. Maybe there’s a certain amount of trust between the brand and the consumers. Maybe it’s because these promoted pins could actually be—dare I say it? Helpful. On a website that is often used to generate ideas for events, projects, etc., the use of promoted pins that could assist in the ability to purchase items could actually help users know where to find the items that they love and found on Pinterest.

Screen Shot 2013-09-26 at 4.56.01 PM

Screenshot of Pinterest boards

This recent announcement got me thinking in terms of our discussions and readings this week about Target and personalized ads. When do personalized advertisements become “too much”? Is it a matter of online vs. offline? For Pinterest users, how do you feel about this change?

As for me, I’m not too bothered. The day Pinterest introduces pop-up advertisements, then we’ll talk. But for now, you know where I’ll be. Now if you’ll excuse me…Pinterest calls.



This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Pinterest Adds “Promoted Pins”

  1. allarson says:

    I actually just wrote a complaint to Pinterest. In theory, I don’t mind it. But I think because of the way I use Pinterest- mostly to keep track of my own collections and follow a very select few people- I have found that my home screen is completely inundated with “suggested” pins. Like, 70%. And I don’t find ANY of them particularly useful. I have to sort through 4 or 5 impractical crafts before I see my friend’s wedding planning progress. I am annoyed.

    • Elizabeth says:

      Thanks for the comment, Aubrey! I was actually wondering how many of them are promoted pins, because truthfully, I follow so many people that I’ve lost track of who I’m following and who Pinterest is suggesting. 70% IS a lot for someone who uses Pinterest for more specific reasons! So perhaps their algorithm for personalized pins needs some tweaking…

  2. Mirror says:

    I never used Pinterest before but it seems fun and I will try it now! Thanks Elizabeth for introducing it! Your post reminds me of one of my favorites,, a Chinese website that people can mark and post their interested books, music albums, and films. This website also seeks ways of gaining profit. Some strategies are to provide E-version of books, links to buy film tickets. One strategy that receiving most criticism is to change the front page of the website from your friend’s posts to the recommended posts. I think it is similar to Allarson’s experience. The good news is that the website abandon this stupid strategy and I get my friend’s posts back on the front page!