How Pinterest Makes Money

Social media platform Pinterest (PINS) makes money from advertising. Shares started trading on the New York Stock Exchange on April 18 under the symbol “PINS.”

Founded in 2010, Pinterest went public on on April 18, 2019. Its initial public offering (IPO) price was at $19 per share and it raised $1.4 billion, giving it a valuation of roughly $12.7 billion including restricted stock and options. As of Dec. 3, 2021, the company had a market capitalization of $23.3 billion. Roughly 431 million users, or “pinners,” use the bulletin board-like platform every month to browse and share images and other content in the form of “pins.”

Key Takeaways

  • Pinterest makes its money via advertising, specifically, promoted pins. These promoted pins are ads that look similar to user-generated pins (posts).
  • The company has integrated a “buy it” button which permits users to buy pinned products directly from Pinterest, rather than visiting a separate merchant site.
  • In 2021, the company generated $2.57 billion in revenue but posted a net loss of $316 million.
  • Opportunities for increasing revenue that Pinterest plans to pursue include greater international expansion, focusing on video and increasing ad capabilities, as well as pursuing its own e-commerce efforts.

Pinterest History

The company, which grew out of an app called Tote that dated from 2008, received $100 million in financing when it was valued at $1.5 billion in 2012. The funding firms included Rakuten, Goldman Sachs (GS), and Andreessen Horowitz. It was valued at $12.3 billion during its last round of funding in 2017. The company has a dual-class structure.

When it was founded, Pinterest seemed to follow the model of social network sites like Meta Inc. (FB), formerly Facebook—meaning that it aimed to develop a massive network of users first and then to install means of generating revenue later on. Pinterest $756 million in revenue in 2018, a jump of 60% from the previous year. The company generated $261 million in revenue during the second quarter of 2019, a 62% year-over-year increase.

“Our advertising products help businesses reach Pinners across their decision-making journey,” said the company, which cited a Talk Shoppe survey that said 68% of weekly active users discovered a new brand or product on Pinterest.

“We address various advertiser objectives through our Promoted Pin ad format, which contains either a single image, a carousel of images or video. Our ability to develop new and improve existing advertising products will be an important driver of our future growth.”

So just how has Pinterest come to be one of the most-hyped social media companies among investors and what is a promoted pin?

How Pinterest Makes Money 1

Monetizing Pins on Pinterest

Before looking at more traditional means of generating revenue, it’s worth looking at how Pinterest has utilized its unique pin system to create opportunities for monetization. The company has integrated a “buy it” button which permits users to buy pinned products directly from Pinterest, rather than visiting a separate merchant site.

Merchants participating in BigCommerce, Shopify, or Salesforce Commerce Cloud are allowed the opportunity to partner with Pinterest; it’s unclear whether Pinterest charges any commissions from these partners.

Promoted Pinterest Pins

Pinterest’s primary source of revenue is what it calls “promoted pins.” These special pins are effectively advertisements, paid for by identified sponsors. As with Facebook’s timeline feature, promoted pins look very similar to (but not exactly the same as) standard pins. Pinterest utilizes user data to target advertisements based on user interests and searches, as well as other demographics. Given that users pin items that they are interested in already, this process is relatively straightforward for the company.

Pinterest’s revenue is driven by interest and use of its platform, which is increasingly popular among fashion and beauty brands. Given that the users of Pinterest are overwhelmingly female and have above-average incomes, using its platform as an e-commerce gateway is more than ideal.

Next Steps

Pinterest’s user base has grown over the years, where it’s carved out a niche that allows it to not directly compete with the likes of Facebook. Pinterest’s leadership has adopted a much less aggressive approach to growth than its competitors. Revenue has grown since the company has gone public, but so has its net loss, as the company has ramped up spending on sales and marketing and research and development.

One big future opportunity is being able to tap the international markets, where Pinterest currently has little reach. Beyond that, Pinterest is interested in building out its e-commerce efforts (what exactly that looks like remains to be seen), as well as continuing to develop advertising tools— including video capabilities—for advertisers.


How to Promote YouTube Videos on Pinterest

There is a seemingly endless source of opportunities for promoting your YouTube videos on social media, from Twitter to Facebook, and everything in between. Pinterest is rarely the first option that comes to mind when deciding where to promote you videos, but it is very much a viable tool for promotion.

Make GREAT THUMBNAILS on YouTube - ...
Make GREAT THUMBNAILS on YouTube - @vidIQ Secret Weapon

Granted, Pinterest is typically known more for its image-sharing than video promotion, but the fact that Pinterest is primarily an image-based platform can be misleading, as its real strength lies in sharing content of all kinds by leveraging the appeal of images.

In this post, we’re going to look at how to promote YouTube videos on Pinterest, but before we get into the how, let’s talk about the what.

What is Pinterest?

In the most basic sense, Pinterest is an image-sharing platform that allows users to “pin” images from around the web to their profile. Users can create boards (essentially image galleries), and in doing so, build up collections of images on a specific theme.

Crucially for the purposes of this post, pinned images come with a link to the place they were found, so that anyone interested in the image can click through to the place the image came from.

How to Promote YouTube Videos on Pinterest 1

Why Pinterest?

You may be asking yourself, “if it’s a platform for saving and sharing images, what does it have to do with YouTube?” The key point is that the links to the image’s source is included.

Another key point is the fact that Pinterest receives a lot of organic search traffic from search engines. You may expect that this would mostly be from people running image searches and seeing Pinterest results, but Pinterest shows up a lot in regular text search results, as well.

Of course, it would be better if the search results took someone directly to your video, but if the choice is between someone arriving at your channel via Pinterest and not arriving at all, I think we both know which is preferable!

How to Promote YouTube Videos on Pinterest

Now that you know what it is and why it can be useful in promoting your videos, let’s take it a step at a time. Here’s how you promote your videos on Pinterest.

1. Preparation

We won’t waste time telling you that you need an active YouTube channel—we assume you already have one of those if you’re reading this post—but you will need to make a Pinterest account. You’ll also want to create a board specifically for your YouTube pins. This isn’t just for the sake of keeping everything organised (though that is helpful as well) but it helps with SEO, as all the pins on the board will be related, which will add a little weight to the board in the eyes of the search engines.

Another thing you should do as part of your preparation is ensure that your videos are branded. This means making it clear in the video who you are. You want to leave a lasting impression on the viewer (in a good way) that they’ll remember. The reason for this is that Pinterest viewers don’t need to open YouTube to see your video; they can watch it right there on the Pinterest page. That means they won’t see your subscribe button, video description, or anything else that might lead them to click more of your content.

As a general rule, this kind of branding awareness should be considered good practice in any YouTube situation, so, if you’re not doing it already, consider this a good reason to get started, but not the only reason.

2. Get Your Video Embed Link

You’ll need to grab an embed link from your video, but this isn’t as simple as it sounds. You will need the long URL for your video, which may already be the one in your browser’s address bar. If the full “youtube.com” address is there, you should be fine to copy that. But, if you click the “Share” button, make sure you are getting the full YouTube address, and not a shortened link. Pinterest will reject those shortened links as they see it as spam.

Once you’ve got your link, you can head to the next step.

3. Upload Your New Pin

Over on Pinterest, click “Add a Pin”, drop your video link in the box, and click “Find Images”. Make sure it is your video that is selected, and then pick the board you created for your YouTube videos. Finally, add a description. This could be the same description you used for your video over on YouTube, but it could also be beneficial to write something new, so search engines don’t count it as duplicate content. Regardless of which route you take, it should have plenty of relevant keywords in it. You’ll have to keep it under the Pinterest description’s character limit of 500 characters, however.

You can also take this opportunity to get a link to your blog or something similar, as this should count as a high-authority link in the search engine’s eyes.

4. That’s All, Folks!

And you’re done. You can repeat this process for other videos, perhaps set up automatic sharing to things like Facebook, but other than that, you’re all set to reap the rewards of promoting your video content on Pinterest.

Final Thoughts

When looking to promote your YouTube videos, not every method or platform is going to be right for you, but you should never rule an option out until you are sure it won’t work. This is the mistake that many fall into with Pinterest by assuming it’s no good for their needs and never giving it a try at all.

Pinterest is a powerful tool for driving organic search engine traffic to your videos, and that can only be a good thing. If nothing else, it removes some of your reliance on the ever-changing YouTube algorithm, which makes it less likely a minor tweak by YouTube will send your traffic numbers plummeting through the floor!

Top 5 Tools To Get You Started on YouTube

Very quickly before you go here are 5 amazing tools I have used every day to grow my YouTube channel from 0 to 30K subscribers in the last 12 months that I could not live without.

1. VidIQ helps boost my views and get found in search

I almost exclusively switched to VidIQ from a rival in 2020.

Within 12 months I tripled the size of my channel and very quickly learnt the power of thumbnails, click through rate and proper search optimization. Best of all, they are FREE!

2. Adobe Creative Suite helps me craft amazing looking thumbnails and eye-catching videos

I have been making youtube videos on and off since 2013.

When I first started I threw things together in Window Movie Maker, cringed at how it looked but thought “that’s the best I can do so it’ll have to do”.

Big mistake!

I soon realized the move time you put into your editing and the more engaging your thumbnails are the more views you will get and the more people will trust you enough to subscribe.

That is why I took the plunge and invested in my editing and design process with Adobe Creative Suite. They offer a WIDE range of tools to help make amazing videos, simple to use tools for overlays, graphics, one click tools to fix your audio and the very powerful Photoshop graphics program to make eye-catching thumbnails.

Best of all you can get a free trial for 30 days on their website, a discount if you are a student and if you are a regular human being it starts from as little as £9 per month if you want to commit to a plan.

3. Rev.com helps people read my videos

You can’t always listen to a video.

Maybe you’re on a bus, a train or sat in a living room with a 5 year old singing baby shark on loop… for HOURS. Or, you are trying to make as little noise as possible while your new born is FINALLY sleeping.

This is where Rev can help you or your audience consume your content on the go, in silence or in a language not native to the video.

Rev.com can help you translate your videos, transcribe your videos, add subtitles and even convert those subtitles into other languages – all from just $1.50 per minute.

A GREAT way to find an audience and keep them hooked no matter where they are watching your content.

4. PlaceIT can help you STAND OUT on YouTube

I SUCK at making anything flashy or arty.

I have every intention in the world to make something that looks cool but im about as artistic as a dropped ice-cream cone on the web windy day.

That is why I could not live on YouTube without someone like PlaceIT. They offer custom YouTube Banners, Avatars, YouTube Video Intros and YouTube End Screen Templates that are easy to edit with simple click, upload wizard to help you make amazing professional graphics in minutes.

Best of all, some of their templates are FREE! or you can pay a small fee if you want to go for their slightly more premium designs (pst – I always used the free ones).

5. StoryBlocks helps me add amazing video b-roll cutaways

I mainly make tutorials and talking head videos.

And in this modern world this can be a little boring if you don’t see something funky every once in a while.

I try with overlays, jump cuts and being funny but my secret weapon is b-roll overlay content.

I can talk about skydiving, food, money, kids, cats – ANYTHING I WANT – with a quick search on the StoryBlocks website I can find a great looking clip to overlay on my videos, keeping them entertained and watching for longer.

They have a wide library of videos, graphics, images and even a video maker tool and it wont break the bank with plans starting from as little as £8.25 ($9) per month.