Broadening its ad base, Pinterest is testing a new program that lets individual users and small businesses pay to promote their pins. “We’ve added a do-it-yourself Promoted Pins tool so businesses of any size can promote their Pins to reach more people and get
visits back to their Web site,” Jason Costa, developer relations manager at Pinterest, explained in a Thursday blog post. “These Promoted Pins will be available on a cost-per-click
basis.” Per the new program, Pinterest plans to let advertisers target users by analyzing their
interests. The company says it can determine this based on the type of images they prefer to pin.
Businesses testing the new tool include vineyard
vines, Nicole Miller and Shutterfly. Following the lead of Web giants like Google and Facebook, the
self-service ad product has the potential to generate significantly greater revenue for Pinterest. In May, Pinterest began rolling out Promoted Pins in its search category feeds. Brands and publishers
like ABC, Expedia, GAP, General Mills and Target were first to sign on.
"Businesses are an essential, natural and welcome part of the discovery
experience on Pinterest," Don Faul, head of operations at Pinterest, said on Thursday. "Our main goal with a do-it-yourself Promoted Pins tool and a new version of Analytics is to help partners of all
sizes get the most out of Pinterest." Despite aggressive monetization efforts, Pinterest recently decided
to take another $200 million in capital at a valuation of $5 billion. The money was earmarked for further investment in technology and talent to develop Pinterest into a discovery platform, including
the expansion of its Guided Search service. Added to Pinterest’s mobile iOS and Android apps in
late April, Guided Search surfaces content from other users -- or “Pinners” -- by taking a simple search term like “glasses,” and suggesting additional terms -- or
“tokens” -- that further refine a search. A cross between a social network and a visual
search engine, Pinterest has established itself as one of the Web’s more popular sites. This year, about 40 million users are expected to visit Pinterest at least once a month -- nearly 16% more
than a year ago -- according to eMarketer. All told, Pinterest claims about 750 million boards on its platform, with 30 billion pins about travelers, foodies, and more. The company is also focused on international growth and additional monetization. Worldwide, Pinterest says it is now
available in 31 countries, while international users represent about 30% of its total audience.