Pinterest bans affiliates, but what does it mean for affiliate businesses?

Sarah Homewood
By Sarah Homewood | 20 February 2015

Virtual pin-board site, Pinterest has stopped all affiliate links on the site as it looks for ways to monetise the platform.

CEO of affiliate network dgm, John Matthews, told AdNews that this is clearly a move made to take greater control of their own platform, as a step prior to launching its own buy button functionality.

“It is an interesting play and just another evolution in how Pinterest attempts to monetise its content,” Matthews said.

This week Pinterest confirmed that it had enacted a universal ban on affiliate links on its platform, as a way to gain more control over how sales are conducted on its site.

“It must be remembered that one of its first forays into monetising its content was through Skimlinks, a technology that dynamically created affiliate links. This strategy backfired as they were not disclosing to individual users that they were monetising the users efforts by using Skimlinks to generate affiliate links and earn money off the back of their users work.”

Matthews explained that this move by Pinterest isn't actually damaging to the affiliate space, rather it will make them a better affiliate partner in the long run.

“Ultimately, in an ever-evolving digital environment affiliates are continually finding new and innovative ways to drive sales for advertisers and brands,” he said.

While Matthews explained that there will certainly be fashion and homeware advertisers feeling a short term drop in their affiliate sales, he said that affiliates who rely on Pinterest to drive sales will simply have to evolve their business models to make up for this short fall.

“The one factor that will be of interest is the fees that Pinterest charge advertisers for its buy now button. If it becomes cost prohibitive then this could impact advertisers ability to utilise the channel,” he said.

“In my opinion, the decision to remove individual affiliate links means Pinterest will become an even more powerful affiliate partner in the future.”

Anthony Capano, MD Australia for Rakuten Marketing, which specialises in affiliate, display and attribution, isn't perturbed by Pinterest's announcement due to the amount of publisher now using affiliate marketing as a channel.

“Affiliate marketing in Australia has matured significantly over the past few years and there is now a strong depth of publishers across various categories working with advertisers to drive online revenue,” Capano said.

“Therefore any change of strategy by any single publisher does not hinder the ability for programs to grow and deliver ROI.”

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