Lauren Kaye

Pinterest ads are here, which means marketers should begin considering (if they haven’t already) how sponsored web content can support their organic strategies on the network. Brafton covered the announcement from CEO and co-founder Ben Silbermann, who said the visual pinboard site would begin displaying tasteful paid content alongside organic user-generated content, giving brands more control over their Pinterest marketing visibility.

“We wanted to let you know that we are starting our first test with promoting Pins today, so you may spot a few in your search results or category feeds on the web or in mobile apps,” Silbermann wrote in a follow-up on the Pinterest blog October 9th. “They work just like regular Pins, only they have a special “promoted” label, along with a link to learn more about what that means.”

Ad integration is expected to impact the network on both the consumer and commercial fronts. Users will now see a mix of sponsored and organic Pins when they conduct searches on the site. With sponsored content now available, businesses have the chance to gain more exposure on for targeted search terms. Dominating real estate for popular products or themes – think: Halloween costumes, Christmas gifts for men, fall boots, etc. – could drive more traffic back to their product pages to generate conversions.

While Silbermann promised the network will be transparent about which type of content it displays in results pages, we all looked, but found it difficult to spot which Pins were posted by other users or sponsored ads from companies. And Brafton wasn’t alone in this uncertainty.

Mashable‘s Lauren Indvik noted that “Promoted Pins blend in rather seamlessly with the rest of the (non-paid) pins on a page … and the lack of a colored box, prominent “sponsored” tag or any other marker typically used to differentiate paid content from organic content makes it difficult to distinguish Promoted Pins from normal ones.”

It’s important that brands are transparent about the pieces of marketing collateral that are sponsored or their efforts to improve brand awareness could backfire. Social media users, in particular, are sensitive about the idea of ‘being sold’ on their favorite platforms. For that reason, marketers might find their organic social media content is actually more effective than ad campaigns in the long run, as these are the posts users actively choose to follow.