Pinterest Audiences Add Significant Value to Social Advertisers

Couple its announcement of Auction CPM with the unveiling of new Pinterest Audiences, and it’s clear that Pinterest is making a strong push to cement itself in social advertisers’ minds when they think of advanced audience targeting.

Want to make sense of all the excitement surrounding Pinterest during the past couple of months? Here’s an overview of the new targeting options, and some best practices to make sure they’re working for you.

Boost Your Social Ads With Pinterest Audiences

In today’s social landscape, even the most well-executed social strategies can fall short when it comes to reaching the right people. It’s more important now than ever to hone your audience targeting strategy if you want to see the most return on your paid media investment.

With Pinterest Audiences, you can do just that. In addition to the keyword and interest targeting already available, Pinterest Audiences allow you to hyper-target relevant audiences and serve valuable content to them. These new targeting capabilities include customer list targeting, visitor retargeting, actalike targeting, and engagement retargeting. Let’s take a closer look at these advanced audience types.

Customer List Targeting

Customer list targeting is all about audience segmentation. What do you want your top customers to see? What about past customers who haven’t visited your site lately?

With customer list targeting, you can upload your email addresses from your customer relationship management (CRM) platform, and match them against Pinterest’s user profiles. In essence, Pinterest takes your CRM data and creates custom audiences for targeting with pin-point accuracy. You won’t get a match rate of 100% because not every one of the emails you provide will have an associated Pinterest account, but with over 100 million Pinterest users (and counting), you should receive a match rate within industry standards.

Once your email address-based audiences are created, you can target ads and serve them to Pinterest users in a valuable and relevant way.

Pro tip: Take advantage of exclusionary targeting to ensure you’re not showing your ads to people who aren’t likely to respond to your messaging. By excluding certain subsets of consumers, not only will you be serving your ads to only people likely to buy or convert, but you’ll be saving money because there won’t be wasted clicks.

Visitor Retargeting

Visitor retargeting uses the Pinterest tag, which lets you track what people are doing on your website and create valuable audiences from that information. Maybe you want to re-engage consumers who visited a product page and clicked on a product, but didn’t make a purchase. With visitor retargeting, you can send this exact group of consumers an ad to reinvigorate them knowing that their product interest is likely high.

Pro tip: Visitor retargeting has some of the highest returns for social advertisers due to its ability to turn window shoppers into paying customers. While visitor retargeting can generate high click-through-rates and significantly increase conversions, without well-executed ad creative, they aren’t going to be effective. To make sure you’re getting the most clicks possible, include a prominent call-to-action—maybe even a Buyable Pin, which lets consumers purchase directly from a Pinterest ad.

Actalike Targeting

Actalike targeting allows you to extend and optimize your reach by identifying Pinterest users who look, act, and behave like your existing customers. These are built from customer list audiences or visitor audiences, and expand upon them to help you find new audiences who Pinterest believes “act like” the people in your seed audiences. What makes Actalike targeting on Pinterest so valuable is that the way users interact with the platform are often strong signals of purchase intent. In other words, you’re able to target users who’ve raised their hands and said, “hey, I’m interested in something like what you have.”

Pro tip: The efficacy of your actalikes relies on the seed audience. If you can identify a highly valuable subset of consumers, you’ll be well positioned to run an effective campaign. If you really want to get the most of actalike audiences, measure Customer Lifetime Value, identify your most valuable customers and create a seed audience from them. Then, find others that look and behave like them on Pinterest.

Engagement Retargeting

Engagement retargeting allows you to target Pinterest users who have interacted with any Pins originating from your website, including your company’s Pins and Pins created and shared by everyone else on Pinterest. It’s long been established that Pinterest is a place where people take action; in fact, a study by Millward Brown reported that 93% of people plan for purchases on Pinterest, and 87% have purchased something because of something they’ve seen. When someone interacts with a Pin, take that signal of intent and retarget them in the future with a relevant ad.

Pro tip: All of Pinterest’s targeting tools are effective, but used together, they’re even more powerful. For example, use actalike targeting to scale your campaign by finding Pinterest users who act similarly to your existing customers. Then, take advantage of engagement targeting to drive performance on an unprecedented scale in the next phase of your Pinterest campaign.

Knowing Where to Target Can Make All the Difference

One thing to keep in mind is that, depending on the targeting method, Promoted Pins will appear in different locations across Pinterest. Here’s an overview of how Promoted Pins will appear in accordance with Pinterest’s audience targeting capabilities:

Just Audiences: Using customer list targeting, visitor retargeting, or actalike audiences, Promoted Pins will appear in home feeds and the Popular and Everything categories.

Audiences + Interests: Combining audiences with interest targeting, Promoted Pins will appear in categories in addition to home feeds and the Popular and Everything categories.

Audience + Keywords OR Audiences + Interests + Keywords: These combinations will serve Promoted Pins in home feeds, the Popular and Everything categories, and other categories. They’ll also show in Search and Related Pins.


Pinterest’s advertising solutions are evolving at light speed to better suit the needs of social advertisers. By following these best practices, you’ll be well positioned to take advantage of every update that rolls out.

Dive into our free ebook to learn more:
The Pinterest Advertiser’s Playbook