The move, which was telegraphed to Internet Retailer in December, will enable retailers to present ads to shoppers searching on the image-focused social network.

Pinterest Inc. today began enabling retailers and other advertisers to present consumers searching on its platform with search ads.

Retailers can now run two different types of campaigns. They are:

  • Shopping campaigns: This type of campaign uses a product feed that’s formatted to the same specification as a Google Product Feed to create product pins on Pinterest. Shopping campaigns enable retailers to target these product pins automatically based on data in the feed using product groups, rather than specific keywords, however, retailers can use negative keywords to ensure their pins don’t appear for particular searches.
  • Keyword campaigns: This type of campaign explicitly targets search and related pin placements with relevant keywords. A retailer can create a pin that associates with these campaigns as they normally would on Pinterest.

Both types of campaigns use a cost-per-click auction pricing model. Retailers can make search ad buys through digital marketing agency Kenshoo or directly with Pinterest.

Among the e-commerce companies that have tested the ads are eBay Inc. and Target Corp., No. 22 in the Internet Retailer 2016 Top 500 Guide.

Brian Monahan, Pinterest’s head of vertical strategy, telegraphed Pinterest’s interest in search ads in a December interview with Internet Retailer when he noted that Google’s influence is waning at least in terms of product searches, according to a recent BloomReach Inc. survey that found 55% of U.S. online consumers begin their product searches on Inc.’s website or mobile app.


“There’s a lot of questions in the industry about what this means,” Monahan said. “A lot of retailers are asking themselves where they can find consumers’ intent.”

Pinterest, which bills itself as a platform of intent, says it has more than 2 billion searches a month on platform—most of which are for products and services people want to buy. As a result, Monahan and his colleagues eye a sizable opportunity with search ads given that the search advertising market is massive. Search ads generated $16.3 billion in spending in the first half of 2016, or 49.8% of the $32.7 billion spent on digital ads overall by U.S. advertisers, according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau.