Pinterest is growing up and marketers should take note. Pinterest, still in its infancy, is just learning to walk, as the cool-guy teenager, Facebook, reports record profits. Facebook is running at full speed searching for more ways to place ads as they reach max ad capacity. In contrast, Pinterest just released a new conversion pixel as well as the ability to remarket to website visitors. In my opinion, now is the perfect time for marketers to give Pinterest a chance because early adopters will have a competitive advantage over the mass market.

New Pinterest Audience Targeting

Not every brand should run Pinterest ads. Brands in the fashion, beauty, DIY, home improvement, travel, health, cooking, self-help, education, lifestyle, fitness, home décor, interior/exterior design and more will benefit the most. Especially with the addition of the four new audience targeting features Pinterest added in Q3.


Marketers can now create and target groups of people based on website visits, email lists or app ID lists, engagement with your Pins, and similar behaviors of a group called “actalike audiences.” Let’s walk through the audiences and how to use them.

1. Target Customer Lists

One of the biggest gripes marketers had about Pinterest ads was only being able to target to the top of the funnel. There wasn’t another way to target long-tail keywords. Even then it was a crapshoot. As of a few weeks ago, Pinterest released the capability to target the bottom of the funnel — and performance marketers took note.


Plus, website remarketing is coupled with their new conversion pixel, which is similar to Facebook’s in that it allows you to add events (add to cart, category page, etc.) that help segment your audiences based on actions taken on your website. For those that are less tech-savvy, you can still create website audiences based on URLs similar to Google Analytics.

To get started, head over to and click “create audience” then select visitors who went to your site. From here, you’ll name your audience, add a description (optional), and pick your Pinterest conversion tag.


The next step allows you to show off your marketing expertise by creating new audiences based upon events, URLs, or a combination of the two. It’s easy to see how granular you can get with the days, events, and URL combinations.


For example, an ecommerce retailer that sells women’s and men’s clothing could set up an audience that has triggered the “addtocart” event but not the “checkout” event over the last four days, excluding men’s or women’s category pages. This would allow you to show women or men specific remarketing pins. There are many combinations, but to start, I recommend recreating your Facebook or GA audiences.

2. Target Customer Lists

Targeting customer lists isn’t a new feature for marketers, but it is for Pinterest advertisers. The real winners here are the marketers who use email lists to move potential customers down the funnel or increase lifetime value (LTV) with up-sells and cross-sells.

It’s a pretty straightforward process uploading lists into Pinterest. Just name it and upload a .csv containing email addresses or MAIDS. For now, it’s the only matching feature available, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they add more qualifiers to increase their match rate just like Facebook.


After adding the lists into Pinterest, you’ll have to wait a few hours before they populate. I would plan on waiting until the next day before being able to target them. The good news is that I’m already seeing audiences populate with a 45-60% match rate, which is incredible considering they’re a much smaller network and not everyone has a user profile.

3. Target Engagement Audiences

What if you could set up ad sequencing based on how people interact with your ads? Look no further because you can now create Engagement Audiences based on actions Pinners took on your pins. Want to target people who commented or saved a particular pin? Now you can.

Again, click on select Create Audience -> Engagement Audience and configure your audience based on previous interactions with your pins. You can choose to target based on:

  • Clicks
  • Comments
  • Saves
  • Likes
  • Close-ups

You can even create audiences based on the pin if you’re looking to control the ad sequencing and frequency.


Again, it’s the marketers who understand the Pinner Journey that will be able to map out a Promoted Pin campaign strategy that gets results. This is a feature where Pinterest really stands out as they’re the only social platform with this capability. I can’t exclude people on Facebook based on if they liked my post/ad or commented on it. Personally, I’m excited to explore how these engagement audiences will perform. I’m also looking forward to finding different ways to exclude them from campaigns to better control ad frequency and sequencing.

4. Target Actalike Audiences

Originally named Lookalike audiences (ala Facebook), Pinterest quickly rebranded them to Actalike audiences because they tend to behave more like each other. It’s obvious that Pinterest is trying to differentiate itself from Facebook by playing up the platform’s purchase intent. In fact, the Mary Meeker report found that 55% of Pinners use the platform to find/shop products compared to 12% on Facebook. That’s a huge difference and a reason why they call them Actalike audiences.


The process is simple. Click on “Create Audience” and select Actalike audience. From there, select your audience, (website visitors, email lists, engagement audiences) the country, and percentage ranging from 1-10 with 1% being the most similar to your audience.


Actalike audiences are great for finding potential customers and should be included in your future Pinterest campaigns. The real trick is to provide Pinterest with highly relevant audiences to build from. Consider well-segmented email lists as a starting place for your Actalike audiences if you’re worried about performance. Maybe start with your top customer list or highest average order value list. Ultimately, choose what makes sense to your business.

Preliminary Results

Here at Hanapin, we’ve been lucky enough to have some clients who are early adopters with Pinterest audiences. Based on preliminary trials, we’ve been able to map out the Pinner purchase intent based on targeting objective. Please keep in mind that this data comes from Google Analytics and is measured on last-click by device. Which means the data is perfect since a lot of the traffic from Pinterest is on mobile and tablet. That being said, we’re still seeing great results, especially for remarketing campaigns.


Pinterest is slowly becoming a legitimate ad platform and one that marketers should definitely consider in Q4 heading into shopping season. With these new audience targeting features, we’re excited to see what Pinterest rolls out next!

Have you experimented with Pinterest Promoted Pins? I’d love to hear about it. Reach out on Twitter @jdprater and let me know what you’re seeing.