The decision to offer its search inventory to advertisers is the latest in a flurry of moves aimed at boosting ad revenues ahead of a widely expected IPO this year or next. Others have included new ad targeting tools and the ability to track platform visits to offline sales.
"Previously, we have never talked to a search engine marketing company or agency," Jon Kaplan, head of global sales at Pinterest, told Advertising Age. "Literally, we never spoke to people who buy search even though we have over two billion monthly searches on the platform.
"People are very excited about the prospect of a complementary or additional player in the search space and I think the visual nature of Pinterest is something that is really unique to us and unique to the search experience," he added.
"What you'll see us do is innovate in formats and targeting as it makes sense on search and takes advantage of the digital nature of how people search on this platform."
Another innovation is the use of camera-search technology. An image-discovery app is in the pipeline which will enable users to take a photo of an item with the app then searching Pinterest's 75bn images for a visually similar match.
Ultimately, Pinterest aims to add links to retail sites so that users can instantly buy products, a development which could catapult the platform into e-commerce in a big way.
It is also refining its targeting to enable advertisers to buy more precise audiences than the previous broad-brush affinity and category classifications, thanks to partnerships with Acxiom and Epsilon.
"There aren't any platforms that I'm aware of that have both of those sitting in the same platform," said Kaplan. "What we're doing is building what I would call a performance platform that's doing very sophisticated audience-based buying and tapping into the explicit intent that exists in search."
Data sourced from Advertising Age, Wall Street Journal; additional content by Warc staff