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Unpinning: Pinterest Kills Affiliate Links And Ramps Its Own Monetization

Power pinners got a rude surprise late last week when Pinterest announced it was removing affiliate links from its posts. For some pinners, these links had been a principal source of revenue. The company had already been scrubbing its visual social network of many such affiliates, but in this latest and apparently final sweep of the practice, it went after two major networks: RewardStyle and Hello Society.

While many pinners were dismayed at the change, Pinterest claimed that the affiliate links led to many irrelevant posts and broken links, plus created a spammy appearance.

Clearly Pinterest is cleaning up its own boards of third-party monetization schemes so it can better pursue its own emerging models. The company announced a deal recently with Apple that will let Pinterest mobile users install iOS apps directly within the Pinterest app without kicking the user over to the App Store. This paves the way for Pinterest to follow just about every other social network into the app-install ad game.

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Oh, goodie -- now we get the same irrelevant game ads in Pinterest that clutter Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr.

Power pinners often create boards on behalf of a brand. The affiliate links would provide them with revenue. Hello Society claims it has over 350 pinners that reach 30 million of Pinterest’s 70 million MAUs.

Pinterest’s claims that its removal of affiliate links is focused solely on the user experience seem as hollow as just about every other social network’s similar claims. The timing is just too neat. According to reports, Pinterest will be rolling out its own buy buttons for pins in coming months. That and the App Pins rolled out last week show Pinterest's determination to focus users and power pinners on the company’s own monetization opportunities.   

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