Just last week, both Pinterest and Instagram announced expansions to their digital advertising options. Originally exclusive to hand-selected advertisers, the two platforms will now open up to allow millions of advertisers into these formerly exclusive clubs. Additionally, both will also launch their own respective shopping features, allowing users to purchase items directly from the social networks. So what’s the takeaway? Will these ads be clunky or incredibly useful? You decide.



On Pinterest, you’ll see a “Buy It” button next to the red “Pin It” button you’re already familiar with. This will apply to more than 2 million pinnable items in the United States. If you see something you like, you’ll be able to buy it immediately rather than clicking through to the website itself. These will be popping up on your iPhone or iPad “at the end of the month.” Android and desktop users will notice these “Buy it” buttons at a later date.

According to Pinterest’s video announcement, you will be able to shop for items and set up budget filters to only view items within your price range.

Here is what you can expect to see:




Instagram (which is owned by Facebook) will offer a similar feature but will expand the shopping function to also allow you to sign up on a website, download an app, and learn more about a post. Instagram promises to target its ads so you see ads that reflect things you actually care about. Ads from companies large and small will start to show up on your feed “later this year.” Instagram will be grandfathered into Facebook’s advertising infrastructure to allow companies to buy, manage, and measure their Instagram ads using Facebook’s well-regarded buying process.



Are these mobile commerce options secure?

Good question. Your mother would be proud of you for considering your Internet security. So would Edward Snowden, I imagine.

  • Instagram is Facebook-owned. They have yet to announce any partnerships with commerce companies, but I’d imagine that could be announced in the months to come.
  • Pinterest is working with “Apple Pay and experienced payment processors to make sure all credit card info is secure.” In short, Apple’s got their back.


Why are they rolling out more ads?

To make more money.

Instagram and Pinterest users are not charged to use the platforms. As a tradeoff, they’re using your traffic to sell ads to companies. It might be a little annoying, but it’s preferable to paying for the service of sharing photos with your friends.

According to RBC Capital Markets, a top Wall Street firm, Instagram’s ads could mean $1.3 billion to $2.1 billion in extra revenue for Facebook this year.


What’s the takeaway?

Not sure yet. As a digital marketer, I’m more impressed by Pinterest’s layout as they’ve seemingly put a lot of great thought into creating an experience that eases the customer’s journey to purchase. They also aren’t moving too far from what the user is there to do (make their life prettier). I see this being a really great opportunity for Pinterest. With its demographic of primarily female, middle-aged, financially-stable household decision-makers, why not?

As for Instagram, I’m less sure of it. For starters, I’m not thrilled with the idea of my beautiful, self-curated feed potentially being spoiled by ugly ads that could detract from my experience. It also might not be a good fit for the user experience. While on Instagram, people aren’t looking to do anything but create and browse beautiful images. If we are to use it for commerce, they will need to do a good job of integrating native ads into the space rather than shoving them in. Lastly, I’m worried about the primarily teen audience. Sure, they will grow up, but will they turn to Instagram once they get some spending money? I guess we’ll see.