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How to Optimize Your Promoted Pins for Pinterest Visual Search

I was having a conversation the other day about the absolute godsend Pinterest is for advertisers and brands. It’s literally a giant mall that users can shop from anywhere with tons of great imagery and information right at their fingertips.

One of the things that have always been impressive is how every user's boards are big shopping carts that hold their pins so they can always go back and check them out or read more information about them.

The products stay put and there’s no need to set up an abandoned cart mail automation because every time someone pins from their boards, it sends them a reminder.

On its own, Pinterest has evolved from more than just a social network of crafts, fashion, and recipes to a massive e-commerce powerhouse with buyable pins and a robust advertising platform.

The Pinterest engineering team is always pushing the limits of what a social media platform is supposed to do and what it can be in the future. With the addition of Pinterest Lens, they are building the world's first visual discovery engine.

When used together, your advertising possibilities broaden and become a little easier when Lens helps out with keywords and category selection.

Getting started with Pinterest Lens is really easy. Just hit the search option at the bottom and then tap the camera icon in the top right.


How to Optimize Your Promoted Pins

When starting your visual keyword search, use images of the exact product you’re building the ad set for or find similar imagery that depicts the same style and product. You can upload these images directly from your camera roll or you can just take a picture natively in app.

I started off with just my shoe on a desk to see what keywords and search terms came back in the visual search results.

If your product was shoes for example, take note of all the options available and adjust them to fit your needs in the campaign. While some of these will come up as categories, some will be in another section for keywords.

lamp pin1.jpg

Pinterest loves lifestyle imagery so make sure to use your product in that atmosphere when doing a visual keyword search. Another really cool aspect to Lens is being able to recognize more than just one object in the photo.

Here’s a quick shot in a photo studio. In the keywords it’s already returning terms like lamps, lights, and studios and when you look at the image itself, you notice three circles on or near different items in the room.

Tapping those will bring a more in-depth search based on the items and will pull up new visual keywords to use in your ad sets. Remember that your audience uses all types of products in everyday situations and activities so make sure to include those background object keywords as well.

pin ad sets.jpg

Start off by selecting the ad objectives based on your overall goals. Like many other ad platforms, you have the options for awareness, engagement, traffic, or app installs.

Build Awareness: Be seen by people on the most visible parts of Pinterest. You get charged per 1,000 impressions of your pins

Boost Engagement: Track your audience’s signals of intent. You get charged for each engagement (closeup, repin, click) on your pin.

Website Traffic: Send a motivated audience to your content. You get charged for clicks to your website.

App Installs: Drive downloads directly from Pinterest with promoted App Pins.

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In this section you have the option to add all of these factors (audience, interests, or keywords) or select just the ones you like, You’re required to add at least one targeting aspect and depending on your strategy, you would probably want to add the others.

Go back to the keywords from the visual search earlier and see which ones match the interests associated with your promotion and add them to your campaign.

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Follow up by cross checking the terms that came up during your visual search, and add those as they apply. You’re going to have the option to include many related keywords so make sure they are along the lines of your pin, product, and campaign goals. To add keywords just click the “+” symbol to the right.

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Finish up by choosing your locations, languages, device preferences, and genders. Even though the Pinterest demographics are dominated by women, men are slowly closing the gap. Keep that in mind when targeting towards a specific gender in your promoted pins.

There are a few common bid options for ads you may be familiar with:

Traffic campaigns (CPC): Maximum CPC means Maximum Cost Per Click. This bid is the maximum you are willing to pay when a person clicks through on a Promoted Pin to visit your website.

Engagement campaigns (CPE): Maximum CPE means Maximum Cost Per Engagement. This bid is the maximum you are willing to pay when a person closes-up, repins or clicks through on your Promoted Pin.

Awareness campaigns (CPM): Maximum CPM means Maximum Cost Per Thousand Impressions. This bid is the maximum you are willing to pay for every 1,000 impressions your Promoted Pin serves.


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Here you can choose a pin to promote, upload your own images and create one from scratch, or save one from a site. Make sure you have permission before you promote a pin if it’s not your own content or products.

You can also choose from any of your pins, the most actively clicked pins in the last thirty days, or the most saved pins in that same thirty-day time frame. If you’ve done the visual search with images that you already have, you should include those in the ad set.

Did you know it’s possible to take pictures with Pinterest Lens right off your screen of existing pins and pull the visual keyword data from them? If you’re planning to promote one, it’s never a bad idea to see where they stand with visual search and keywords.

Keep track of your pin progress and analytics in the ads dashboard throughout the duration of your campaign and edit your keywords as necessary.

When 87% of users have purchased a product because of seeing it on the platform and 93% of pinners say they use Pinterest to plan their future purchases, it makes perfect sense to allocate ad spend when it aligns with your goals.


Pinterest isn’t about just finding things anymore, it’s about connecting millions of people with billions of ideas.

Be the one that helps your audience discover their next favorite thing.


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