Pinterest’s new features and the goals it has outlined as it prepared to public show that it is moving rapidly to become a more effective advertising platform for retailers. Pinterest is embracing artificial intelligence and empowering retailers to run campaigns for each part of the purchase funnel.

Udayan Bose

Udayan Bose, founder and CEO, NetElixir

With Pinterest’s IPO official, alongside the hiring of former Walmart chief technology officer Jeremy King, the newly public company is gearing up for a push forward as a tech platform. The self-proclaimed “discovery engine” has big plans, and retailers should take notice now to capitalize on their ability to connect with consumers on the platform.

In its recent S-1 filing, Pinterest laid out its plans on how to improve user experience while becoming more advertiser-friendly. The details paint a picture of a company that’s embracing AI [artificial intelligence] and empowering retailers to run campaigns for each part of the purchase funnel. Some of its goals include:

  • “improve the relevance of visual recommendations by leveraging computer vision and other technical innovations, such as Lens, that deepen Pinners’ engagement with the service;
  • improve the utility of the service by making it easier for Pinners to go from inspiration to action—in particular, make Pinterest more shoppable;
  • explore new features to encourage Pinners to discover a broader set of verticals such as automotive, technology, financial services, media and entertainment and travel;
  • make Pinterest more accessible to users around the world by localizing the product and content experience; and
  • bring additional high-quality commercial content onto the platform by deepening Pinterest’s partnerships with brands, retailers and content creators.”
By offering hyper-contextualized data from the Pins and Boards users create, Pinterest provides retailers refined ad targeting.

The More You Know

Reading through these goals, it’s exciting to see the platform’s commitment to machine learning, computer vision, and improving its ability to identify more specific shopper profiles. By offering hyper-contextualized data from the Pins and Boards users create, Pinterest provides retailers refined ad targeting that differentiates Pinterest from other platforms.

Their best current example is the Shop the Look feature, where users tap on items in a Pin to read product information. This automated ad unit identifies the products in the photo on its own, giving retailers the chance to sell more products in one well-crafted photograph.


For users, it’s a moment of awareness, learning, and potential conversion in one click. Those clicks become powerful data points, helping Pinterest learn at an exponential rate to provide better advertising opportunities.

It’s these learnings that could make Pinterest such a fantastic platform for retailers. A person may, for example, build a Board of Pins related to their dream home, pinning furniture or features they’ve always wanted.

However, we don’t necessarily know if they’ll ever actually buy those things. Pinterest’s integration of AI raises the possibility of being able to group user journeys into self-identifying audience pools, discerning between who’s interested in actually purchasing something and who merely draws inspiration from it. The result gives advertisers the ability to serve ads that pinners are happy to consider since they align with what they’re interested in and don’t feel invasive.

Behavior Behind The Click

In the case of one test we ran, we found that users who pin women’s shoes were also people who pinned DIY crafts. Information like this builds out a more colorful psychographic understanding, making it easier to place ads that resonate and drive conversions.

With this information, we could deploy Pinterest’s “Actalike” campaigns, serving ads that connect with our target pinners from brand awareness to ecommerce actions. Companies like Target, Rothy’s, and STX Entertainment have found success with these insights, using Promoted Pins, Carousels, and Boards to speak to their audiences.


It’s also comforting to see Pinterest has put users first. Even in a digital climate rife with safety and authenticity concerns, 91% of users say that Pinterest is filled with positivity. according to a Talk Shoppe survey (S-1, page 3).

Happier users means more engaged browsing, and high-quality product photography will fit right in with Pinterest’s perfected visual aesthetic. This results in ads that feel native but not disruptive to the user experience.

Building out its technical prowess has opened the door for Pinterest to deliver exceptional advertiser ROI. Pinterest’s ability to replicate the in-store browsing experience while learning what else the user may be successfully retargeted for gives retailers a significant advantage if they lean in to the platform’s ad offerings. As pinners dream, brands should dream of the possibilities.

NetElixir provides search engine marketing services to four of the Internet Retailer Top 1000 online retailers in North America, according to