SAN FRANCISCO -- Pinterest has made its first serious step toward making money from its wildly popular service.
The four-year-old online scrapbooking service has launched an advertising business to target its 46 million users.
Pinterest has begun charging brands to place content on users’ “pinboards” much the way Facebook and Twitter allow businesses to pay to put their messages inside streams of updates from friends.
The San Francisco company is looking to earn the $2.5 billion valuation it received after its last financing round of $200 million.
“I know some of you may be thinking, ‘Oh great ... here come the banner ads,’” Ben Silbermann, Pinterest’s cofounder and chief executive, wrote in a blog post. “But we’re determined to not let that happen.”
He said the company would clearly label when a “pin” is a promotion, that it would not bombard users with “flashy banners or pop-up ads,” and the paid pins would be relevant to a user’s interests.
Pinterest will start out promoting these pins in search results and in categories, such as a pin for a Darth Vader outfit from a costume shop when someone searches for “Halloween.”
But, Silbermann said, “nobody’s paying for anything yet — we want to see how things go and, more than anything, hear what you think.”