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Pinterest opens up Promoted Pins for UK advertisers, with John Lewis and Made.com among launch partners

Pinterest's Promoted Pins ad format has landed in the UK, with brands like John Lewis, Made.com, B&Q and Tesco announced as early launch partners.

The visual bookmarking tool, which allows users to curate and share images and ideas via an online scrapbook of 'Pins', made the announcement today (6 April).

Promoted Pins, which launched in the US last January, are native ad units which are similar to organic Pins with the exception that retailers must pay to serve them to users. The offering is designed to expand visibility to relevant search results, category feeds and the users' home feeds, and will be available from today onwards to all UK advertisers on a self-serve basis.

Boasting a 100-million strong global userbase, the US-based platform said it has noted strong growth in the UK over the last 12 months. Reports published last year suggest that Britons pin up to 1.6bn items per day, showing a particular interest in the DIY, recipe and home decor sections.

In order to widen its UK presence, Pinterest's commercial team spent the best part of 2015 deepening relationships and striking up partnerships with the likes British brands like Marks & Spencers, Tesco and Manchester United. Across the Atlantic its made forays into retail, most notably introducing a 'Buy' button, for which it signed up stores like Macy’s and Nordstrom to sell via.

Speaking to The Drum, Adele Cooper, UK and Ireland country manager for Pinterest said: “For the brands and partners we’re working with, Promoted Pins will enable them to reach a lot more people than they have been able to reach in the past.

"We’re expecting it to be a great success and we’re seeing great results in the US where we’ve had promoted pins up and running for a while now.”

The push will undoubtedly scale up what Pinterest currently offers to UK advertisers, but as with Instagram it will have to tread carefully when rolling out the new product so as not to disrupt the community-feel of the site while carving itself out as a point of differentiation in the social space.

Of this, Cooper admitted it will be "a bit of a challenge," but also an "opportunity to realty work with partners on their creative and try to help them to get better results," as well as a chance to make the pins even more engaging for current users.

This will be helped by the design element; Promoted Pins essentially take the same format as organic content apart from the fact they are signposted as paid-for – something Cooper described as "branded ads on a platform where brands live."

"What we’ve found in the US is that the hide rate is 90 per cent lower than the hide rate on other digital ad formats and that’s because the content is so similar to the content that people are already going on to the site for," asserted Cooper.

In terms of data, conversion tracking pixels will give brands the scoop on where a person ends up on the retailer's site once they click on the Promoted Pin and what they end up with in their basket should they make any purchases.

One brand "chomping at the bit" to debut its Promoted Pins is designer furniture store Made.com, which has been active on the platform since 2012.

Through native content alone the firm has experienced a 173 per cent increase in revenue that came directly from Pinterest, a spike its social project manager Hannah Pipel called "kind of crazy." It has also made use of the platform's Rich Pins, which pull in content from advertisers' websites and update changing factors, such as price, automatically.

As pointed out by Cooper, she returns to the fact that Pinterest catches shoppers during the "planning stage" of their journey, a "sweet spot" for brands, and something that Promoted Pins will help them capitalise on.

"I think potentially the planning stage is a really interesting one especially for home decor and higher ticket price items," she said, adding: "We need to speak to people at the point where they’re thinking of buying beds and mattresses or sofas or storage – things like that are investments."

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Rebecca Stewart

Rebecca Stewart is a reporter at The Drum with a remit to cover the latest developments in social media marketing and wider industry news. Based in Glasgow, she has interviewed key figures from brands like Airbnb, Amnesty International, Facebook and Spotify. She has covered international events in Berlin and Amsterdam, as well as Advertising Week Europe.

All by Rebecca