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Pinterest Changes Their Targeting Game By Expanding to Lookalike Audiences

Published: September 1, 2016

Author: Elizabeth Ninivaggi

Developing more adequate and effective ways to target your audience has always been a primary goal for every active social platform, but for Pinterest, whose targeting options have been expanding rapidly over the past few months, the changes in targeting have ultimately created a more efficient way to drive results for advertisers. (Previously only high-level search (keyword based) and interest targeting were available for Promoted Pins.)


One of these exciting new features mimics Facebook’s highly successful Lookalike audience option, where the platform identifies and targets users who look and act similar to either a segmented customer list, website audience, or conversion pixel data.  

Lookalike vs. Keyword Campaigns – Which Won?

To test this new feature, 3Q launched a Pinterest lookalike audience campaign based off a client’s conversion pixel events of registrations; we also launched a campaign that had the same exact variables but used original keyword-based targeting. For the lookalike audience, we initially launched with the smallest percentage (1%) but saw that spend was extremely low the first day because of low scalability from a small audience. We then expanded the audience size from 1% to 3% and saw impression and spend volume immediately increase within a few hours.

Some initial takeaways 3Q found from running this 7-day test were that click-through-rates between the lookalike campaign and the keyword campaign were drastically different; our lookalike pin had an average CTR of 0.87%, while the search-based pin had a CTR of 0.56%. We also saw higher conversion rates coming from our pin with lookalike targeting at a 21.8% conversion rate with a $2.03 cost per registration, vs. a conversion rate of 18.8% and $2.23 cost per registration for the keyword-based campaign.

What Does This Mean?

With a higher click-through-rate and conversion rate from the lookalike targeted pin, we know that our test campaign reached a more qualified audience, returning more conversions at a lower cost. The more sophisticated lookalike targeting vs. straightforward keyword targeting allows advertisers to reach more converters rather than clickers, which is a huge success for Pinterest as an overall platform. 

Pinterest is looking to become a more viable channel in the future for direct-response focused social advertising and is now touting itself as “a platform of intent”; look for many more features on the way as it fights to claim more social advertising dollars.

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