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November 16, 2017

Although Pinterest reached 200 million monthly active users this year, and the average time Pinners spend per visit is 14.2 minutes, a major challenge remains for the content-rich platform. How do advertisers reach those users? To make it easier to reach that audience, Pinterest has continually developed their ad platform since launching in 2010.


In a September announcement, Pinterest launched their “Taste Graph,” which models how the world’s tastes and interests evolve over time. This announcement is yet another enhancement to their audience targeting offering, which includes keywords, custom audiences, and keywords.

“Taste Graph” includes more than 5,000 interests (6,711 at the moment to be exact) a HUGE jump from the 400 before. This is compared to Twitter’s 350 interest subcategories and Facebook’s 282,000+ interests.

Any performance marketer knows how tricky interest targeting can be, and we certainly see Pinterest’s model of developing this “Taste Graph” as an interesting move. They’ve already reported some initial results from these super-targeted ads– increased click-through rates by up to 50% and decreased CPC by up to 20%.

As this tool is still new, there is relatively little transparency about how to best leverage interest targeting, what the interests are, and how to combine them with other targeting methods. From our early testing and research, here are four considerations to help you make the most of your Pinterest ad campaigns.


1. Use Interest Categories to Determine Viability of Pinterest for User Acquisition

Pinterest’s 6,711 interests are grouped into 377 subcategories and 21 top-level categories–depicted below. We pulled together a graph showing those top-level categories by number of interests fall into each, plotted by browsing volume and bidding competition.

This graph can be a handy tool to determine if Pinterest is a good channel for your business based on the interest and competition of target user groups. For example, you might be targeting users interested in “home and garden,” which is one of the most browsed categories, but is also very high in competition. On the other end of the spectrum, “education” has low competition and low interest.


2. Capitalize on Related Interests

This representation may also be a good tool to uncover categories perpendicular to your immediate target market. As Pinterest doesn’t use relevancy scores, advertisers have a bit more leeway. While we don’t ever recommend using misleading language, or surreptitiously targeting audiences (it’s not moral, and it just won’t work), think outside the box.

For example, let’s say you’re a fashion e-commerce company. While targeting users with ‘fashion’’ interests is an obvious path forward, you might try creative that appeals to ‘design’ or ‘entertainment’ interests.

Beyond just these top-level categories, remember that there is overlap between subcategories and interests. We typically don’t recommend targeting the top-level categories but drilling down into the sub-categories and interests…


Alternatively, feel free to reference the links below:


3. Dig Into the Niche

The beauty of Pinterest’s “Taste Graph” is how niche some of the interests are. Some of our favorites are “beans on toast” “Gloucestershire old spots” “gymnasium architecture” “airy hair” “Hanoverian kings” “toy hauler travel trailer” and “firefighter wedding.”

The only way to discover these interests is to start typing into the ‘Interest Targeting’ box. For those curious as to what the interests are, however, we’ve made circular dendrograms for each parent category, showing all the interests in each subcategory.

Click the images below to view the subcategories and interests in each group. Beware, many of these are quite unruly.

Use these guides to discover subcategories, specific keywords, or groups of keywords to test in your campaigns. As you drill down from subcategories to specific interests, be sure to eliminate ones that don’t perform within your tests.


4. Combine Interest Targeting with Keywords

Pinterest’s efforts to give advertisers more targeted audiences is certainly a step in the right direction. While they’re not as granular as Facebook’s interest targeting options, it may be difficult for many advertisers to target audiences solely based on interests.

Depending on the nature of your business, you should test interests and keywords separately, as well as test combined groups. Use interests to qualify in target user groups, and keywords to get more granular. In building these lists, we have found success in garnering learning from Search and Facebook campaigns.

From expanded targeting options to app-install campaigns, Pinterest’s advertising platform has made leaps and bounds in the past year.

Read about our early findings with Pinterest app install ads here. As we test more client campaigns on the underdog platform, we look forward to sharing our results.

Interested in learning how we can help optimize your Pinterest ad campaigns? Check out our Pinterest advertising services and expertise >

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