spark ads

Do Spark Ads Get Better Results on TikTok? (Yes, but it’s Complex)

spark ads

With Facebook getting more challenging by the day, many advertisers and marketers are turning their attention to advertising on TikTok. It seems like every day there is another statistic about how TikTok is growing into a massive platform for not just Gen Z but Millennials and older generations as well. 

Hours are spent scrolling through the feed as the algorithm cranks out content to keep its users glued in the uncomfortable yet addicting scrolling position. With such an effective attention trap, it should come as no surprise that advertisers, small businesses, and startups are eyeing the potential to put their ads in front of TikTok users.

While TikTok is still young, and its advertising platform is even younger, it boasts unique targeting options that may appeal to advertisers that have struggled to find their target audience on Facebook. So naturally, the next question is, “What’s the secret to making TikTok ads work? What makes a good ad on TikTok?” 

As a growth marketing agency, we’ve managed hundreds of thousands of dollars on TikTok this year and leaned on real insights and learnings to outline the information below. Let’s dig in! 

What type of ads work best on TikTok? 

A common mistake is thinking that a social media app is a social media app, and if you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all. Many advertisers assume this for many reasons: Creative limitations, the similarity of the advertising platforms interface, the similar language, and that they’re all paid ads. This thought is a mistake.

As cliché as it may sound, no two advertising platforms are alike. Every social media app and advertising platform is different. They have unique features and unique users with varying behaviors. As such, each one has different strategies, tactics, and creative assets that work.

TikTok is no different. Do a quick google search on TikTok creative best practices and you’ll stumble on a myriad of well-crafted articles that tell you that the best TikTok ads are ads that feel like TikToks. It should come as no surprise then that TikTok has developed its own organic TikTok ad of sorts called Spark ads.

What is a spark ad? 

Spark ads are a new-ish ad format allowing advertisers to boost organic content by using organic posts as ads. Just like organic videos, users can comment, like, and share Spark ads. Unlike normal TikTok video ads, users can even click the handle name or profile picture of the account associated with the Spark ad. It’s almost like they’re organic posts because they are! There are two different ways to run spark ads:

  1. By using your own TikTok account that has been linked to your business account
  2. Using an authorized account or using authorized posts

For more information on using your own linked TikTok account visit this link.

Do TikTok Spark Ads work?

The best TikTok ads are ads that don’t feel like an ad at all. They feel like a native TikTok that the user is seeing as they doom scroll through the app. Maybe that’s why Spark ads have been extremely successful in a variety of different uses since they were introduced.

We had the chance to test Spark ads with one of our partners, Teachable. Initially, we ran the Spark ads alongside our normal creative in the same ad set – Eventually moving the Spark ads to their own ad set, as TikTok’s algorithm allocates spend differently between assets.

The results were wild! In our testing, Spark ads beat our normal TikTok ads in nearly every category. For context, we saw:

  • The CPC was $1 lower with Spark ads than with our normal ads. 
  • The cost per lead was 30% lower with the Spark ads compared to the normal ads.
  • The number of times our videos were played at 100% of their duration averaged 22% with our Spark ads vs. the average of 6% with our normal ads. 
  • The average watch time per person was also up by a whole second.

How We Pick Spark Ads at Tuff

When it comes to picking out what will make for a good Spark ad, there’s no perfect secret- sauce. There’s a bit of tacit understanding involved in knowing what’ll perform well. We’ve managed to capture some of the questions we typically ask when we’re evaluating organic TikTok videos for use as an ad.

 6 Questions We Ask When Selecting Spark Ads

  1. Does it feel like a TikTok?
  2. Is there text on the video?
  3. Does it use a trending sound?
  4. Does it use a trending style?
  5. How much engagement (social proof) does it have?
  6. Does it have a clear CTA

Does It Feel Like A TikTok

The type of creative that works on TikTok is UGC content that feels both authentic and like it’s native to TikTok. In fact, recent research reports that 92% of consumers trust UGC more than traditional brand ads.

So choose a video that feels less like an ad and more like a TikTok you’d want to watch.

Is There Text On The Video

Copy matters! And that includes the text on the video. Even though TikTok is a sound-on optimized platform by default, captions and words on the video help users quickly get the gist of the video and improve ad recall. 

Words can also strategically lure the viewer in further. To avoid getting too behavioral science-y, we can just leave it at: When someone views your Spark ad, they look at everything, and not just the video or product in a vacuum. What experience do you want the viewer to have when they see your ad?

Does The Video Ad Use A Trending Sound?

The sound you choose for your video is important. Using a trending sound might not be super important when it comes to reach for an ad like it would be for an organic TikTok post, but it is still important to your ad converting people effectively.

A trending sound could help your Spark ad, again, feel more native to the platform. As users scroll, they’ll recognize your sound and spend more time watching it as a result. This will increase your odds of converting. This leads us to…

Does Your TikTok Ad Use A Trending Style?

Your TikTok ads, especially your Spark ads, should ideally be entertaining but they should also be authentic and built to convert. That’s where trending styles like “TikTok made me buy it” or “Top X Hacks That Actually Work” come in.

Tapping into the trending styles will help make your ad relatable and entertaining to the users.

How Much Engagement Does It Have?

When choosing a Spark ad, looking at the number of views on the organic post could be an indicator of how well it performed organically. Just because something didn’t go bonkers as an organic post doesn’t mean it won’t kill as a Spark ad. 

That said, looking at the engagement when qualifying the posts could tell you what’s already working so that you could amplify that.

Does The Ad Have A Clear CTA?

Without a call to action, a Spark ad is just a boosted post. The purpose of an ad at the end of the day is to convert. Make sure your Spark ad has a clear CTA to tell users what to do next so that they don’t just swipe to the next post.

Even with these guiding questions though, there’s still no perfect way to know what will work. 

Remember that people don’t come to TikTok to look for ads. They come to scroll and be entertained or learn or laugh. So your ads should fit next to the content they want to see. The best way to make a TikTok ad that looks like a TikTok is to just make a TikTok. That’s what Spark ads are.

We’ve tested a lot on TikTok across our different partners from different bid strategies to new objectives to specific-to-TikTok audiences to new ad types – With that, we’ve learned a lot! If you’re interested in diving deeper into the world of TikTok, here are a few additional articles we’ve written that might be helpful for you: 

Want to skip straight to running some TikTok campaigns with us? Let’s chat! 

top linkedin lead gen strategies

LinkedIn Ads Best Practices: 4 Tips for Your Next Campaign


linkedin ad best practices

You’d be forgiven for dismissing LinkedIn as just a place that people go to when they’re looking for jobs. After all, that’s how it was marketed to so many of us not so long ago. But LinkedIn has evolved. 

From posts from founders confiding about business decisions they’ve had to make, to professional communities being built, and even to memes being shared, LinkedIn has begun to carve its place in the Hall of Social Media Apps. It has become a space for professionals to come together to network and interact.

It’s easy to forget that professionals are humans too. And humans all have a natural desire to connect with others. LinkedIn makes that possible, and as it happens more, naturally, their advertising offerings improve. That’s why now might be the best time so far to advertise on LinkedIn .

If you’re going to do something, you may as well do it right. So here are four tips on how to get it right when you do finally dip your toe into the LinkedIn sea.

Why LinkedIn Ads? 

First, let’s consider the all-important question that Simon Sinek made popular: “Why?”

Why advertise on LinkedIn? After all, LinkedIn ad costs tend to be much higher on LinkedIn than they are on Facebook or even… dare we say it, TikTok.

That’s a great question. Here’s the great answer:

You should advertise on LinkedIn if it makes sense for your product or business. Advertise there if you have the budget, and want to reach decision-makers.

LinkedIn has an array of targeting options that advertisers and social ads experts close their eyes and wish would be on Facebook. Targeting like company, member skills, job traits, and seniority are just a few of the options available on LinkedIn. These are options that Facebook can only come close to replicating with a tool like Clearbit.

Those targeting options alone almost make LinkedIn ads worth the price of admission. The ability to reach key decision makers or users with a particular set of skills could produce higher quality leads than what you may see on Facebook and Instagram. So sure, you’ll pay a bit more per lead, but the leads you get will actually move the needle.

So, what should you consider when running LinkedIn  Ads? Glad you asked.

4 Best Practices to consider when running Linkedin ads

Know Your Audience

The first thing may seem obvious, but it can’t be underestimated. When running LinkedIn ads, as I’ve alluded to up to this point, cost can be a major issue if you aren’t careful. One of the quickest ways to drive up costs is to target the wrong audience with your ads.

LinkedIn has a war chest of amazing targeting options that can get your ads in front of key decision-makers that could buy your product. LinkedIn also has targeting options that could get your ads in front of tons of people that are almost perfect – that is, people that would happily buy your product, but it isn’t their decision to make.

The way to avoid the almost-perfect people is to pay attention to the targeting that you’re using and make sure that you’re including targeting parameters that will allow you to hit people with the proper amount of seniority.

Managers, directors, vice presidents, founders, and C-suite executives are all options that you could choose to increase the odds of you getting in front of a decision-maker.

Aside from seniority, LinkedIn also gives you the ability to go after member skills and member traits. The advantageous thing about these options is they allow you to go after people who would actually know how to use your product.

One example of this is a Learning Management Solutions company targeting content creators. By targeting content creators who also have video recording and video editing skills, the LMS company could place their ads in front of an audience who self-reported having the necessary skills to use the product.

Choose The Right Ad Type

Next, you’ll want to select the right ad type. LinkedIn has multiple different ad formats that you can use depending on your campaign objective and your needs. Along with choosing the correct audience, you’ll want to make sure that you choose the ad format that’ll connect with your audience.

The ad formats that LinkedIn offers are: 

  • Carousel ads
  • Conversation ads
  • Message ads
  • Follower ads
  • Spotlight ads
  • Job ads
  • Lead gen Forms
  • Single Image Ads
  • Single Job Ads
  • Text Ads
  • Video Ads

One of the limitations of LinkedIn ads is that as of the time this is being written, you cannot mix ad formats in a campaign. So choosing the correct format will save time, frustration, and money in both the short and the long run. Reviewing LinkedIn ad examples can be a great place to start. 

For example, If you decide to test video ads vs Single Image Ads, you’ll need to create two separate campaigns instead of creating them in the same campaign as you would on Facebook or Pinterest.

Develop the Right Creative and Copy

The third best practice is to choose both the correct creative and the correct copy for your LinkedIn ads. You have the opportunity to get incredibly granular with your targeting, so you also have the chance to personalize your creative.

The temptation to just repurpose the assets that you use on Facebook will be strong, but I’d caution restraint in that area. Linkedin is a different platform and deserves a tailored approach if possible. It has humans, sure, but the environment and the behavior are different.

When people are on Facebook and Instagram, they’re scrolling and looking to connect with family and friends colloquially. They’re also there to be entertained, and while nobody will admit it, they’re there to discover new products.

On LinkedIn, the priming is different. It feels more professional. As such, people expect to see more professional content. The balancing act your ad has to do is to be a scroll stopper while also feeling like it belongs in the room.

To accomplish that, consider your audience. Think about their world and their pain points. Think about what they’d want to know about your product before they were ready to learn more. Think about what they wear to work. Consider who their best friend at work is. Show that in the creative. Say that in the copy.

Test Fast, Learn Fast, Move Fast

Finally, understand that it’s not likely for you to get it 100% right on the first try. To be successful with LinkedIn  Ads, you need to adopt a growth mindset.

The person that’s afraid to fail is the person that’s afraid to win. So there has to be a certain tolerance for testing new things and being willing to get it all wrong.

The important thing is that you fail fast. Contain your losses. Learn from the failures. Iterate and move on to the next test.

Test different creative concepts and different copy. Give different targeting options a go. Learn if videos or single images work best for your audience. Ask yourself what would happen if the ads went to a different landing page.

Test a bunch of different things quickly. Learn from your tests. Don’t panic but manage your losses. Iterate and grow.

Why Should I Use Nextdoor Advertising?

2022 has brought a lot of surprises to the macro environment for both marketers and consumers. A new favorite game we’ve started playing across the social ads team at Tuff is “which prices increased more this week” – gas prices at our local gas station, or CPMs for our Facebook campaigns. For some of our partners, CPMs for Facebook campaigns have risen by 30%+ in the last 60 days, with no sign of slowing down as advertisers fight to get in front of their target audiences. 

If you’re one of the countless businesses or agencies across the world (and the metaverse), you’ve likely noticed that your reliable paid acquisition channels look a little less reliable these days. You may be wanting to see if your spend can go a little bit further on another channel. So, you ask yourself, “Why not try a new channel? I’ve heard about Nextdoor advertising. What about testing that out”?

Well, you’ve come to the right place. 

Why Use Nextdoor?

Is Nextdoor effective? Does Nextdoor advertising work? How much does Nextdoor advertising cost? As you might’ve guessed, the answer is, “it depends.” As a growth marketing agency, we work with all types of partners with a variety of needs. Many of them use Nextdoor with great success, for some, it doesn’t make sense as part of their marketing mix. 

The first of many considerations you have to make when you’re thinking about using Nextdoor is “Why?”. Maybe Simon Sinek was onto something when he said to start with “why”. The first real question you should ask yourself when considering Nextdoor isn’t “should I?”. It’s “Why should I?”.

There are a few reasons why you would consider using Nextdoor: 

  • Your target audience is there
  • Your competitors use Nextdoor advertising
  • You need to differentiate spend away from rising costs on your Facebook Ads

Regardless of your reason, there’s a why, and you should unearth that before you move on to the next step.

Can I Reach My Audience Using Nextdoor Advertising?

According to Nextdoor there are nearly 1 in 3 U.S. households already on Nextdoor. These neighbors are motivated to support local businesses.

More than that, 88% of Nextdoor users frequent a local business at least once a week and they make 90% of their purchases within 15 miles of their work or home. Nextdoor neighbors love to spread the word.

If you’re a business with a local storefront or local events, then this should be appealing to you. Understanding that every social platform has slightly different behavior, you can leverage Nextdoor’s ability to generate local behavior in a way that you can’t with Facebook or TikTok.

What Targeting Options Exist on Nextdoor Advertising? 

By default, Nextdoor will deliver your ads to all audiences within your selected locations. You can uncheck this default setting though and get access to more demographic targeting options

Overview of Nextdoor Targeting Options

As of the time of this article, Nextdoor does not have targeting that is as robust as some of the other demographic targeting platforms such as Facebook, but it does give you some pretty interesting homeownership and interest targeting options that you can leverage. 

Are Nextdoor Ads Expensive?

Nextdoor ads are comparable in cost to other paid social channels. Nextdoor works on an auction system so you’re bidding on placements in the platform based on the targeting parameters you’ve set. The platform offers you the ability to bid on a CPC basis or a CPM basis. 

The option you choose will influence how you’re charged and it will affect your costs. It is possible to run Nextdoor with relatively small budgets, but as with most platforms, it performs better given more budget to work with.

Overview of Nextdoor's Bidding Options

What Creative Placements Are Available on Nextdoor?

Nextdoor has 3 placements for you to use in their self serve ad platform: Newsfeed, Finds, and Right Rail. We have found that most advertisers opt to only use the Newsfeed placement since that is the most effective use of spend on Nextdoor. However, depending on your objective, the Finds placement and Right Rail placement could also be good for brand awareness initiatives. 

Should I Use Nextdoor Advertising? 

Nextdoor as an ad platform has a few limitations, and it’s not for everyone. It isn’t the next Facebook (Meta), TikTok or Snapchat. And it’s not trying to be. 

Nextdoor is incredibly effective for local businesses, local events, and getting the community involved. So if you have a business that has a strong localization component or wants to be seen in the community more, then absolutely give Nextdoor a try.

Want to take a new approach to paid social channel diversification, but are unsure of where to start? Let’s talk about how Tuff can help you make the most use of your paid social advertising spend with a multi-channel approach.

Ecommerce Store

How to Use Google Analytics to Discover Lookalike Audiences

Ecommerce Store

Do you remember where were you on the day that the digital advertising world stood still? Do you remember what you were doing when iOS14.5 loaded onto scores of devices overnight before their owners even reached onto the nightstand to grab them and open up their social media app of choice? Our growth marketing agency jumped into the brand new world of paid social advertising and have taken away a few key learnings for the post iOS14.5 world. 

The Fallout of iOS14.5 

On April 26, 2021, Apple followed through on its promise to prioritize privacy with App Tracking Transparency. This update prompted users to either “allow” or “don’t allow” apps on their iOS devices to track their activities. 

Paid social advertisers in particular felt the blow like they were brave enough to step into the ring with Mike Tyson in his prime. Much of the targeting that advertisers had become so reliant on was either gone or no longer effective. Despite Apple and Facebook (now Meta) warning for months: so many marketers were drastically affected. 

Sure with the change, you could still target Android users, and Facebook did roll out new aggregated events to limit the fallout Some damage control measures went into place, but it goes without question that Apple had delivered a near-fatal blow. So, scrappy Facebook advertisers have had to look for new ways to find their target audience online. 

From that scrappiness, new audience targeting strategies emerged that could help social ads strategists and media buyers cut through the crowd and reach their audience. At our growth agency, we’ve identified two lookalike audiences that have proven to be super valuable. Even better, they’re accessible to anyone with Google Analytics installed on their website.

The First Lookalike: Pageviews 

The first audience we’ll discuss today is a lookalike audience based on pageviews. 

Imagine you’re looking at your analytics and you see that you have 347 transactions this week for a product. For a lot of advertisers, they either stop there or ask the question, “How can I get this number higher?”  before they close the tab and move on. Scrappier advertisers take it a step further.

Looking at Google Analytics’ acquisition report we can see the traffic generated from various channels and campaigns.

If you add in a custom segment of Purchasers, you can look at the metrics based on people that have made a purchase on the website. From there we want to know the pages per session.

Pageviews for Google Analytics Purchasers

In the case of this e-commerce company, the Purchasers had a drastically different behavior than the larger pool of all users. And this is where the beauty is.

From the data, we can tell that Purchasers visited 11.47 pages per session. They were more engaged. They clicked around, they viewed a few pages, and they inevitably visited the cart followed by the checkout page. 

We can take an educated guess that a cohort of users with that same behavior pattern would be likely to purchase as well. And that’s what we’re betting on for this first lookalike.

So back in Facebook (still not used to Meta), we’ll make our way to the audiences module within the business manager. Here we’ll be creating a custom audience.

Overview of Meta's custom audience website tool

To do this follow the following steps:

  •  Choose Website as your custom audience source. 
  • Choose the pixel you want this based off of
  • Instead of selecting all website visitors, select PageView from the events dropdown. 
  • Click the Refine by dropdown below, and select frequency. We’ll leave the middle drop-down as “is greater than”….
  • Change the number to the number of pages per session the Purchasers normally have minus 10-20% (so, if it’s 10 pages, then make it 8). We’re subtracting 2 or 3 because it gives Facebook a buffer so that they can have a large enough audience to build the audience from. 
  • Click Create audience, and then create a lookalike from that audience.

The Second Lookalike: Time on Site

The second lookalike audience uses analytics as well. Remember that the Purchasers segment spent around 11 minutes on the site. So again, we can safely assume that Purchasers spend more time on the site.

So the second audience we want to create is a lookalike based on time on site. To do this, create a new custom audience. This time instead of choosing PageView from the dropdown of events, we’ll select Visitors by time spent. 

 For the percentile, start by leaving it at 25%. If the data suggests otherwise in the future, then you could always drop it to 10% or 5%.

Be warned though. As you move to higher percentiles the audience will shrink even more. Once you’ve created this custom audience, go ahead and create a lookalike based on this one too.

Overview of Meta's Site Visitors Percentile Tool

The Real Trick to Using Analytics to Build Facebook Audiences

And just like that, you have two audiences based on data that you could target using your first-party data. And this is just the beginning. There is a myriad of different audiences you could build from the data. 

You could narrow the custom audience further by switching the parameters from Include people who meet “Any Of” the following criteria to Include people who meet “All Of” the following criteria.

You could create custom events and conversions in your pixel based on events that are important to you and build an audience based on their behavior.

You could select specific web pages to narrow your time-on-site audience. 

The possibilities are vast. The important thing is learning how to use analytics to understand your audience beyond the bottom line numbers. From there, you can segment your audience in the way that makes the most sense for your business goals.

Looking to leverage your existing data for your ecommerce site? Our growth agency is happy to dive in and work with you on a growth strategy. Let’s chat

scrolling pinterest on a computer

Advertising on Pinterest: Ad Formats, Campaign Types & Best Practices for 2022

scrolling pinterest on a computer

Imagine someone is preparing for a trip to Oahu for the first time. They’ve never been a big traveler and they honestly can’t remember the last time they took off from work for a week and took a vacation. They don’t know what to do when they get there. They don’t know how to pack. They don’t know much about the different airlines and they certainly don’t know what workouts they should do to prepare for the incredible pictures they plan to take. So what do they do?

First they go to Google, as anybody would when they have a question. They scroll a bit and see some pretty commercial articles, so they decide “ehh, I’d rather read something else”. They click a couple YouTube videos in the search results, and those help a lot! The problem is, they saw all of these fun things to do but there are still so many questions. So what now?

Well, they take a scroll on Pinterest to find the answer to all of their questions. They find articles on traveling to Oahu, and pins about outfits to wear. They look up what to pack for their trip and they come across this pin about this incredible revolutionary thing called packing cubes from this company called Away. It piques their interest, so they click it and after reading a pretty good article, they’re absolutely convinced they need packing cubes otherwise their trip won’t be as good. 

So they do what any reasonable 20 something old would do. They head over to Amazon to look for packing cubes. They scroll and scroll but for some reason they can’t make a decision. All of these cubes look great! And they look the same! But in the back of their mind, they’re thinking about those packing cubes from Away. So after spending way too much time on Amazon, they go back to Pinterest and look up which packing cubes are the best. Again, they see this pin from Away! This time they’re convinced it’s fate. So they type in Away into the google search bar, land on the website and buy themselves those packing cubes from Away.

This is the beautiful power of Pinterest and Pinterest Ads for brands. Pinterest, one of the largest social networks, is a visual based social network that allows people to share all kinds of video and blog content in the form of Pins.  These Pins are shared over and over giving brands a plethora of exposure as users scroll through looking for inspiration for their next endeavor in life.

Benefits of Pinterest Ads

There are so many reasons why Pinterest ads might just be worth the squeeze. With a growing audience, it’s no wonder why advertisers are flocking to the social media site to place their products in front of prospective customers. As an e-commerce growth agency, this is a channel we’re constantly testing and optimizing as we look to diversify the overall channel mix. 

Your next customer is on Pinterest

It’s true. Your next customer probably uses Pinterest for inspiration, recipes, or finding new workouts to make them look like a pro in the gym without setting off the lunk alarm. In fact I’d argue that the odds are in your favor. Pinterest has over 475 million monthly active users and between October 2020 and March 2021, there were over 1.2 billion total visits. So, the numbers are there.

But Who’s Really On Pinterest?

Well the easy answer is everyone. And for the parts of everyone that aren’t there yet, they’re coming soon like a long awaited Marvel movie. While over 75% of users on Pinterest identify as female, male users have grown 40% year over year and continue to grow. 

No matter what age your target audience is, chances are that Pinterest has them covered too. Gen Z Pinners are up 40% year over year, and Millennial Pinners are up 35% in the same period. Over a third of Pinterest users are 50+ years old and another third falls into the 30-49 year old camp. The last third represent us Zillennials (too old to be Gen Z but too young to be Millennials) and our oft confused colleagues, Gen Zs.

But Does Pinterest Drive Purchases Though???

I hear you. I hear you. Having users is cool, but the real question is does Pinterest drive purchases, or leads, or conversions?

Fortunately there’s an answer to that quandary.  It is no secret that many Pinners come to the platform for inspiration. In fact, 89% of users reported using the platform for just that very purpose. The behavior that followed though may be enough to make you clean your glasses.

98% of Pinners reportedly go out and try ideas they see on Pinterest (*cough* ab workouts and birria tacos?? *cough*). And that’s not even the most exciting part for brands. Let’s make things more interesting eh? 

89% of users use Pinterest for purchase inspiration, and according to Pinterest, 80%…yes EIGHTY percent of weekly Pinners make purchase decisions on Pinterest. Zooming out just a wee bit, and about 50% of all Pinners have made a purchase after seeing a Promoted Pin.  Add in that  2/3rds of Pinners have discovered a new brand, service, or product they might not have otherwise known about thanks to a Promoted Pin, and it gets harder to deny the obvious potential here.

So How Do Pinterest Ads Work Then?

That’s a bit of a loaded question don’t you think? But I’ll answer it as best as I can.

Bidding on Pinterest

 For starters Pinterest, like most other paid acquisition channels, use bidding to decide what ad to show and at what cost. In Pinterest you can either set custom bids, or you can let them do it for you. 

With custom bids, you set the maximum you want to spend for a particular action or bid. Then Pinterest will attempt to get you the most results that it can given your maximum spend limit. You can adjust and tweak this as often as you’d like throughout the day.

With Automatic Bidding, Bids are updated by Pinterest automatically throughout the day. Pinterest aims to get you the most Pin clicks at the lowest possible cost per result while also spending your entire budget. This may sound fantastic, but automatic bidding comes with its own risks. There is a potential for price fluctuations as Pinterest works to learn what customers to go after to get the best results and adjusts for competition.

Keyword Targeting On Pinterest

One of the really cool things about Pinterest ads is that the platform allows you to use keywords. In fact Pinterest is one of the largest search engines in the world after Google and YouTube. So it makes sense that there would be some search engine like functionality in the ads platform right?

Well there is, and using this correctly definitely makes a difference for both paid and organic pin strategies. We’ll stick to the paid for this discussion though.  

Keywords can be an incredibly powerful arrow in your arsenal. It is so powerful in fact that there is a small legion of bloggers across the web that swear by keyword only campaigns. They may have a point. There are over 2 billion searches typed in on average per month and 98% of searches are unbranded. That’s a lot of opportunity to get in front of customers that are looking for inspiration and new solutions to their problems.

So maybe that aforementioned blogger legion has a point but I’m more keen to use all the tools to get the job done instead of settling for Maslow’s hammer.

ad targeting options on Pinterest

Interest Targeting On Pinterest

That’s where interest targeting comes in. Inside of Pinterest’s ad platform, you have the option to target interests. Pinterest, like TikTok, has a list of interest buckets that you can target. Users and content are placed into those buckets based on their search history and interests. Then you can target them. The problem is the interest targeting is a bit limited. There’s not as expansive a list of interests to target on pinterest as what you’d find on Facebook Meta but, there are quite a few options that could move the needle.

Ultimately, the name of the game is testing. Test Fast. Learn Fast. Move Fast. Setup AB tests to determine which strategy works best for you. Maybe it’s an only interest campaign. Maybe it’s a keyword only campaign. Maybe it’s one set of keywords vs another set. Maybe what works best for you is to use both interests and keywords in the same ad group! With paid social, try not to get too hung up on what worked before in one platform. Instead keep an open mind and try different things intentionally.

pinterest advertising targeting options

Pinterest Ads In Action 

This is exactly the approach that we took with one of our Ecommerce partners, let’s call them Brilliance to keep their identity anonymous. Brilliance sells a product that is absolutely perfect for women of all ages, especially women with some disposable income. The product positions incredibly well beside coffee and tea products. 

So we came up with a theory. We theorized that if we combined interest targeting with keywords, we might just be able to get our product in front of people that would actually purchase it. We quickly came up with a plan that would include keyword targeting and combined targeting. We opted not to test interest targeting in this instance because we had seen bad results with it in the past.

The results were better than we hoped. We initially launched with the combined targeting and after the first week, we saw a CPA (cost per acquisition) that was 50% of what we saw on Meta. 

Not trusting our eyes, we gave it another week, and again results came in strong. We weren’t done learning yet though. So, we created the keyword only campaign. Out of the gate it struggled with CPAs about twice as high as Meta results. 

We knew that Pinterest used view-through conversions though, so we decided to give it up to a week in accordance with our attribution window of 7 days post click. The results?

I’m glad you asked. The CPAs DID drop as time passed and Pinterest learned more about the right customers. So we did what anybody would do when they struck gold. We added more shovels! Well in this case we added budget incrementally. As we did this, costs rose slightly but the results continued to hold.

Custom Audiences On Pinterest

Along with the option to target specific keywords and interests on Pinterest, as an advertiser, you also get the opportunity to target custom audiences. These custom audiences will look familiar if you’ve used any other ad platform before. From prospecting audiences like act alikes to retargeting audiences, there are choices for you to accomplish your goal.

Act Alike Targeting 

Think of this like a lookalike on Facebook. This is an audience that looks and acts just like the audience you used as the source. This is a great way to find an audience that has behavior similar to people who already took an action you like.


This audience goes after people that recently interacted with your Pins. This audience can be super powerful for a bunch of reasons. Since I’ll explain it later in another less lengthy post, I’ll summarize here. This audience uses in platform behavior signals, and that means that Pinterest has full ability to track them. Engagers also interacted with your content recently so they’re warmer than somebody that never heard of you. As far as retargeting goes, there aren’t many better options.

Site Visitors

This audience targets people who have visited your site and been tracked via the Pinterest tag.  This is a great audience because it means that the person is definitely familiar with you and probably lower in the funnel if they’ve visited your site.

Customer List

This audience targets people who have a pinterest account and are on a customer list you upload. This can be a great way to retarget prior purchasers with a new offer, or product launch. There’s even some evidence that suggests that Pins with the word New on them see a pretty substantial engagement lift. 

Should You Use Pinterest For Your Business?

Pinterest is definitely not for everyone and every business. That caveat being said, there is definitely opportunity there for ecommerce brands and service businesses. The important thing to remember is that people come to Pinterest to look for inspiration, and not necessarily to buy a product or service. So before you decide that Pinterest is right for your business ask yourself a few questions:

  • Who is my target audience?
  • What products or lifestyle activities does my product or service fit next to?
  • What DIY problem am I solving? 

And always remember that social ads and digital marketing is always about testing. If you answer the above questions and still feel fuzzy just follow my mantra: Test Fast, Learn Fast, Move Fast.