Pinterest bans affiliate links, move toward ‘buy’ button

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Pinterest announced Thursday it would shut down affiliate links, a move that has made many bloggers angry and has others wondering what the visual social media site is planning.

A Pinterest brand manager gave the following explanation to VentureBeat regarding the changes:

We are removing affiliate links to ensure we’re providing the best possible experience for Pinners. Recently, we observed affiliate links and redirects causing irrelevant Pins in feeds, broken links and other spammy behavior. We believe this change will enable us to keep the high bar of relevancy and quality Pinners expect from Pinterest.

That’s probably not the only interest the company holds dear.

Pinterest launched “Promoted Pins,” a native advertising service, in May 2014, and on Wednesday it announced a deal with Apple that enables users to find the best apps in Apple’s App Store.

Though the partnership definitely fits into Pinterest’s goal to become an alternative search engine, the move may allow Pinterest app users to install ads in the future.

There have been rumors that Pinterest is working on a “buy” button, too. According to Re/Code, the “buy” button would enable Pinterest users to order and pay for participating company products without leaving the social media platform. Pinterest has remained silent regarding these rumors.

[RELATED: Become a visual content ninja! Attend our conference on Visual Communications and Infographics.]

Pinterest is not the only social media platform to make changes in the last several months.

In the wake of Facebook’s not-so-subtle push toward promoted posts—the platform significantly cut reach on page posts it deemed “overly promotional” in January—the social media network announced a tool that will tell advertisers how relevant their ads are in order to make them more competitive.

Twitter also announced a partnership with Niche, a startup that helps marketers work with social media celebrities.

According to TechCrunch, “Niche offers free analytics to social media curators so they can see what is and isn’t working, while allowing brands to browse leaderboards and collaborate with top creators on marketing campaigns.”

What do all of these changes mean for brand managers?

The brains behind social media platforms such as Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter definitely want PR and marketing pros to use the services, but company execs want it to be on their terms. Expect that the pay-to-play model will gain momentum as more businesses turn to social media to promote products and services.

The changes also highlight the importance of brand journalism and sharing great content. Brand managers can stay ahead of the curve by continuing to tell engaging stories that people want to hear and building a brand presence across multiple social media platforms. 

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