Skip to content

Success Envy

Pinterest Ads for Businesses in 2020: 10 Practical Tips and Free Resources

If you’ve discovered Pinterest’s underappreciated marketing power, you may be considering stepping up your game with Pinterest Ads.

Launched in 2014, Pinterest Ads have helped businesses of all shapes and sizes. Pinterest owes much of its advertising strength to the unique way users interact with the platform.

Rather than connecting with others, Pinterest focuses on re-connecting with yourself. Users flock to the platform to find inspiration, solve problems, and bookmark resources.

Pinterest users are planning for the future, and research shows they’re happy to engage with brands that help them on their journey.

Let’s first look at why advertising on Pinterest might be right next step for your business. Then, keep reading for a brief summary of how Pinterest Ads work and our 10 tips on creating effective Pinterest Ads in 2020.

Why Advertise on Pinterest

Pinterest considers itself a “visual discovery search engine.” Of the 2 billion monthly searches, nearly all of them are unbranded.

Pinterest users don’t just tolerate branded content; they welcome it. Recently, 73 percent have said that branded content makes Pinterest more useful. Even better, Pinterest users take action; 98 percent report trying ideas they found on Pinterest.

It’s also the top shopping platform for millennials, and 93 percent of users use it to plan their purchases.

Still wondering if Pinterest is worth a piece of your ad budget?

Well, Pinterest reports $2 in profit for every $1 spent on ads, outperforming TV, print, and other digital outlets. According to the platform, 83 percent of weekly Pinterest users have made a purchase based on branded content.

Basically, if you’ve already found success reaching and engaging with your audience through organic Pinterest marketing, Pinterest Ads are probably a smart next step.

A quick note: Pinterest Ads are not available worldwide yet. Pinterest Ads currently serve more than 25 countries, including the US, UK, Australia, and much of Europe. Check the Pinterest website to see the if ads are available in your area.

Pinterest Ad Formats

Similar to Facebook advertising and Instagram Ads your ad campaign type will influence your bid type and determines what ad formats and placements are available to you.

Let’s get started with the five different ad formats currently available to all businesses on Pinterest.

1. Promoted Pins

The most basic ad format, these look the same as regular Pins with the addition of a “Promoted” label. Your bid will boost and targets the Promoted Pin to increase your reach. Users can interact with them exactly as they do with regular Pins, and they appear in the same places regular Pins do.


  • Campaign objective: brand awareness
  • Ideal aspect ratio: 2:3
  • File size: 10 MB
  • Title copy: 100 characters max
  • Description copy: 500 characters max

2. Promoted Video Pins

These look the same as Promoted Pins, but feature a video instead of a still image. The videos autoplay once they’re 50% in view.

You can choose from two different sizes: max width and standard. Standard width videos take up the same amount of space as regular Pins. Maximum width video takes up more space in the feed, and requires a higher minimum bid.

Across platforms, video ads generally earn more engagement and are more memorable. Sixty-seven percent of Pinterest users found videos inspiring and motivating to take action.


  • Campaign objective: video views
  • Ideal aspect ratio: dependent on ad size (1:1, 2:3, 9:16, or 16:9)
  • File size: 2GB max
  • Video length: minimum 4 seconds, maximum 30 minutes
  • Description copy: 500 characters max

3. Promoted Carousels

Promoted carousels include several images for users to swipe through. You can use between two to five images. Each image (or “card”) can feature different images, titles, descriptions, and landing pages.

This format is ideal for promoting several products or features. With more room to share images and text, they’re a great way to tell a brand story.

Image source:
Image source:


  • Campaign objectives: brand awareness, traffic, conversions
  • Ideal aspect ratio: 1:1 or 2:3
  • File size: 10 MB max
  • Title copy: 100 characters max
  • Description copy: 500 characters max

4. Promoted App Pins

These focus on driving app downloads, directly from the Pinterest app. The idea here for Promoted App Pins to serve as an alternative to the competition of app stores. They deliver a seamless download and install process without leaving the Pinterest app.

Promoted App Pins look similar to a Promoted Pin or Promoted Video Pin, and show up in all of the same places in the Pinterest app.

5. Product Rich Pins
(also called “Shop the Look” or Buyable Pins)

Product Rich Pins let you display the current price, availability, and product descriptions from your website directly in a Pin. In order to enable these Pins, your site must be set up for e-commerce.

While these are also available organically, only Pins created using Pinterest’s “Catalogs” are eligible for promotion as shopping ads. “Catalogs” connects e-commerce sites to Pinterest, and is currently only available in select countries.


Pinterest Ad Campaign Structure

Pinterest organizes its ad campaigns into three major levels. If you’re familiar with Facebook advertising, Pinterest essentially follows the same structure.

Campaign: This is where you set the objective and the lifetime spending limit.

Ad group: At the ad group level, you can set your budget, choose your placements (where to display your ads), set audience targeting, and start/end dates. Ad groups help businesses address different regions, product lines, target audiences, and other factors that a single campaign might include.

Ads: These are the Pins users see. Each ad belongs to an ad group, has a unique URL and creative.

Ten Pinterest Advertising Tips for 2020

1. Optimize Organic Presence

At Success Envy, we’re big fans of investing time to build organic social media presences before paying to promote content.

After all, the best advertising is results-driven. If you’ve never utilized your free Pinterest account, you’re lacking crucial data.

Your free Pinterest profile is the ideal place to conduct your first experiments, build a follower base, and learn as much as possible about your Pinterest audience(s).

We’ve got all the information you’ll need about setting up your Pinterest marketing strategy in our Ultimate Pinterest Marketing Guide for 2020.

2. Install Pinterest Tag

The Pinterest Tag is a piece of code added to your website’s HTML. It tracks conversions, measures campaign performance, and collects visitor information. The information provided by the tag allows businesses to measure their ad effectiveness and conduct re-marketing.

You might need a professional web developer to help you install this. Don’t be scared off; the data provided is well worth the trouble.

3. Align Campaign Objectives with Big Picture Goals

Pinterest offers several campaign types, and their ad management tool will guide you through the creation process. What no digital ad tool can do, however, is help you determine the right ad objectives for your business.

When selecting your campaign goals, make sure they support your larger marketing and business goals. Your advertising objectives should be specific and measurable. If you’re unsure of how to establish the most effective advertising goals, use our S.M.A.R.T. goals worksheet to help you get started.

4. Conduct Pinterest SEO & Keyword Research

Although Pinterest is categorized as a social media platform, it often functions exactly like a search engine.

In order to ensure your content appears often and well-placed in search results and suggested content, you need to be engaging in Pinterest search engine optimization (SEO).

SEO Summary

SEO helps businesses tell search engines what their content is about so it can be seen by the right users at the right time. In a nutshell, SEO involves keyword research and optimization.

Keyword research is the process of discovering effective keywords and keyword phrases that users input when searching for businesses and products like yours.

Optimization is essentially incorporating those keywords and phrases into important locations within your content and website.

The most popular keywords (fat head keywords) are usually one or two words, and have the highest traffic volume. Of course, that high traffic volume also signals a heightened level of competition, since there will be lots of content related to broad search queries. “Fashion” and “interior design” are examples of fat head keywords.

As you add more keywords to your search, you’ll create more specific keyword phrases, called long-tail keywords. These keywords are more niche, and help businesses reach people searching for specific products, solutions, and ideas. They have a lower search volume, and less competition. “Minimalist interior design for small spaces” is an example of a long-tail keyword.

Pinterest Keyword Research

During your organic Pinterest marketing efforts, you hopefully conducted some Pinterest keyword research. We suggest digging deeper in a new round of content research for every Pinterest Ad campaign you run.

Keyword research doesn’t have to eat up too much time, though. Pinterest offers built-in features that make keyword research quite easy.

Pinterest Search will automatically generate related keyword and keyword phrases as soon as you start typing.

Once you run a search, you’ll find more related keywords between the search bar and results. Generally, Pinterest will show you the most popular keywords, ranking from left to right on the screen.


The Pinterest Ads Manager also offers a built-in keyword search tool. Type in a topic and the tool will automatically generate related search words and their monthly search volumes.

When searching for keywords, remember to put yourself in the shoes of your audience. What do they want to see? What problems are they trying to solve? What kind of content do they enjoy?

Generally, you should be using keywords in your…

  • Pinterest Board names and descriptions
  • Pinterest profile
  • Pin titles and descriptions
  • Pin image text overlays

However, keywords should only be used in ways that read naturally. Although it’s important to let the Pinterest algorithm know what your ad is about, your copy also needs to appeal to your very human audience.

5. Build Smooth Transitions

As you create your Pinterest Ads, reflect on the whole user experience. Specifically, think about how to best transition users from your ad to your website.

Generally, people lose interest if landing pages don’t seem to match the ad they just clicked through. On the other hand, Pins that link to pages with similar imagery most effectively drive sales.

The Pinterest algorithm also notices when landing pages don’t match what an ad promotes. That disconnection comes across as ingenuine, or perhaps even an attempt to trick users into clicking through.

6. Create Beautiful, Branded Content

As a visual discovery engine, Pinterest and its users place a heavy emphasis on Pin images and videos.

Always use strong, high-quality images. Remember: most people access Pinterest via mobile, so make sure your images can make an impact on the small screen.

Pinterest’s signature content shape is the vertical rectangle. Always create Pin images in the suggested ratio of 2:3, because it maximizes the space available to you and looks the cleanest in the platform.

Don’t forget to clearly include your brand logo in your images, as long as your image is still the focal point. Pinterest users are generally happy to see branded content.

You can also brand your images and graphics themselves by creating a cohesive theme or aesthetic, the same way you do in your Instagram marketing. A branded “look” can help users recognize your content in their feeds instantly.

We’ve collected a few more image guidelines that have been proven to increase ad efficiency.

  • Show you brand, products, or services in action. Pinterest users are generally more inspired when they see how your business can help them reach their ideal future.
  • Shoot product close-ups. This reduces the whitespace around your product, helping the image stick out better against the surrounding images.
  • Add a text overlay. Pins with a text overlay perform better, especially when that text adds context or includes a call to action. Make sure that any text is appropriately sized and high contrast enough to be readable on mobile.
  • Bright, warm colors have been shown to increase click-through rates. This one’s easy—include these types of colors in some of your ads to improve its performance.

7. Plan to Use Video

You’ve probably heard it before, but video ads typically out-perform other ad formats. Plus, videos are still pretty rare on Pinterest, so they stand out in users’ feeds.

Of course, not every campaign or objective will be suited to the video format, but utilize it when you can. Promoted Videos can drive awareness, consideration, and conversions.

When creating your video ads, be sure that they work without sound, since many people choose to watch videos on mute.

8. Write Enticing, SEO-Optimized Copy

Depending on your ad format, you have a few different copy areas available, but most frequently you’ll have a Pin title and description.

As always, lead with your hook. Since users will usually only see the first 30-60 characters of your description, begin by demonstrating value. Make it clear early on how users will benefit from clicking through your ad.

Keywords should go in your copy as well, but remember to use them naturally. Pinterest users won’t be excited by nonsensical copy that’s overstuffed with keywords and hashtags. Write naturally, and include keywords where they best communicate what your ad is about.

Add a few hashtags at the end of your description. This will help boost your SEO and discoverability without sacrificing the quality of your copy.

Also include your brand name in your hook and titles whenever possible. Pinterest’s own research has shown that Pins with a brand name early in the description massively increase brand awareness.

Finally, don’t be afraid to add detail. Pinterest users often try ideas they find on the platform, so your descriptions should provide information they can take action on.

9. Run Split Tests

Every business using Pinterest Ads should be continuously running split tests. In this case, split testing involves running two or more different versions of a Pinterest Ad to see which performs better.

Continual split testing uncovers which set of ad variables (copy, image, call-to-action, etc.) earns the most results.

Split testing is so important, experts even recommend it for businesses creating organic content. Multiple versions of a Pin (or ad) can greatly increase your reach, help you appeal to different segments of your audience, and refine your advertising strategy.

10. Track Analytics

No ad campaign is complete without tracking performance. Pinterest offers a built-in analytics tool for all Pinterest for Business accounts.

Your analytics dashboard displays all of your past and current campaigns, your reach, click-through rate, engagement, and more.

The most important metrics to track will vary greatly depending on your business and advertising goals. For most businesses, we heavily recommend tracking the following, at minimum:

  • highest performing ads
  • lowest performing ads
  • split test results
  • audience insights

Tracking and analyzing ad performance are the best ways to maximize your ad spend. Approach your first campaigns as research opportunities, and your ads will become more and more successful over time.

18 Pinterest Ad Ideas

Ready to get started, but not sure how to create ad content for this unique platform? We’ve got you covered.

Pinterest users are in “discovery mode,” seeking inspiration resources to plan their future. These unique intentions provide opportunities for different kind of ad content than you might use on other social media platforms.

Looking for inspiration for your next Pinterest ad? Download our comprehensive list of Pinterest Ad ideas for 2020.


Congratulations on discovering the under-appreciated advertising power of Pinterest!

Pinterest’s discovery-focused, shopping-inclined users are probably looking for great, branded content like yours. Show them how your business fits into their ideal future, and you’ve begun a relationship.

If you’ve decided Pinterest Ads are right for your business, follow our ten strategy tips above, and watch your ad campaigns flourish.