What Affiliates and Merchants Should Know About Pinterest Links

Pinterest LogoEveryone is buzzing about Pinterest and with good reason. The social sharing site has grown very popular over the last six months and marketers are seeking ways to benefit from the attention. People are talking about how best to approach the Pinterest community and garner traffic for ecommerce. It’s a great idea! I’ve had the same idea myself and spent some time playing around on Pinterest to discover how it works and how merchants and affiliates might make it work for them.

After a few small experiments, I discovered that a pin that linked to one of our merchant clients was swapped out for a SkimLinks affiliate link as I was passed from Pinterest to the source page of the pin. I know that there are many affiliate marketers that are exploring Pinterest as well, so I did another test in which I modified the URL of my original pin with an affiliate link. I was pleased to discover that the affiliate link I had placed was not overwritten by SkimLinks when I clicked on the pin and was transferred to the merchant site.

The Pinterest/SkimLinks relationship seems fairly new, but isn’t completely unknown according to the Compete.com blog.

It shouldn’t surprise me that Pinterest has an angle to monetize the links being created. What surprised me was that it didn’t seem to be public knowledge yet. There doesn’t seem to be a discolsure of any kind on the Pinterest website that informs users of the link swap. I’ve seen many merchants posting their own products to Pinterest, even inventing contests in order to generate repins and thereby more traffic for their online stores. I wonder if they know that they are potentially creating links on behalf of an affiliate and subjecting themselves to a commission payout on any traffic they receive from Pinterest. Perhaps it’s comparable to an ad buy in some ways, but it seems like the merchant is doing a lot of leg work without knowing the consequence.

It is important for merchants and affiliates to be aware of this link swapping that Pinterest and SkimLinks are doing. Again, at this time it appears as though affiliate links placed directly in the URL field of a pin, when editing a pin already placed, are not overwritten and the original affiliate link is left intact. To maximize their earning capabilities, affiliates monetizing using Pinterest should ensure that they include their affiliate links on a pin. It is not possible to include an affiliate link on the initial pin through the normal pin methods. You must edit the URL after pinning something and include your affiliate link then. If a pin is repinned by others prior to an affiliate link being added, the repins will retain the original non-affiliate link. So, replace your link quickly.

How are you using Pinterest and will this information affect your plans?


  1. I think any site that is working with affiliate marketing networks has already made the judgement call that they are willing to share revenue with referral sites for the extra traffic and sales volume coming to their site.

    Pinterest is absolutely a link farm and the rewards for retailers and merchants of any size is the astronomical volume of traffic the site can drive.

    I do wish there was more disclosure about the affiliate link swapping, but if I’m not an affiliate marketer myself their use of their own affiliate links is not costing me anything. By developing a rather clever way to monetize the user-shared links *without ads or sponsored content, their platform they are generating revenue at a very early stage in the life of the company which allows them to continue to develop the platform which is a good thing for users, the large volume of whom are looking for a great user experience, not profit.

    Their financial success is our end user gain. Still an avid Pinterest fan.

  2. I just recently joined Pinterest so I find this very interesting. So far everything I’ve pinned is linked back to one of my blogs or sites but I have considered linking some Amazon products directly. I may just pin to individual product review posts about amazon products on my niche blogs. Thanks for the info.

  3. I personally don’t care if Pinterest makes money off of affiliate links, but I do care if they strip MY affiliate links, which is what they did. My Amazon Associates code was indeed stripped from my links before I knew this was an issue. Once I discovered it, I went back and tried to replace Pinterest’s links with my own, but couldn’t do it. Now I’ve changed my affiliate links to tinyurl.com links, and those are working. In the future, I’ll try posting the way you’ve described it here. Problem is, people repin my links so fast sometimes!

  4. Not sure how fast everything is moving over at pinterest – but this is what I’ve found over the last few days. If I cloak an affiliate link via Tiny or pretty link (wp-based cloacker) then it will not be accepted by pinterest and does get marked as spam or inappropriate content. However, if I leave the link as is eg an Amazon link, then it seems to accept it.

    My Amazon links haven’t been up long enough for me to notice if they’ve replaced them – but they have labelled as spam or inappropriate content, ALL of the cloaked links.

    As I type this I’ve just replaced a ‘spam’ link with it’s uncloaked version and the ‘spam’ tag has magically disappeared.

    I think their link swiping policy goes a little deeper than just swiping unmarked images, so I’ll be watching my uncloaked links very closely to see if the mysteriously disappear.

    If Pinterest is a link farm, from an seo stand point it may be advisable to limit the amount of links pointing back to your own sites.

  5. Quick catch-up…just run past my uncloaked links and Pinterest has removed my affiliate id from the link even though it is there in the URL box. I checked this by following the link through to amazon and then checking the link stats in amazon…any clicks on my link are not registering on my amazon stats.


  6. Robert C says:

    I am shocked and appalled at Pinterest!. They spend their own money maintaining a social media website and they have the nerve to make money from it via SkimLinkAds! Further surprise ensues when people try to game the site to make their own affiliate money.

    I can’t believe it. Horror of horrors. I kind of get tired of people whining and hand-wringing about blogs or social media sites that make money from their efforts. Get over it. So what if they didn’t trumpet the fact that they put SkimLinkAds in the mix?

    Are they supposed to just let you advertise your own affiliate links and do whatever you want to make cash off of the millions they put into the platform? It is FREE to join if you get an invite is it not? If you were charged a monthly fee then that would be a different story entirely. But even then, you just can’t let any or all objectionable material be the basis of your clientele.

    And news flash, someone will always try to “spam” a new technology or format for their own personal gain as well. It has been going on since the Internet fell out of the nerd nest of ARPANET and became the Internet of today. Just like household cockroaches, spammers are the Internet cockroaches of our time and will always be around in one form or another.

    I find it somewhat humorous when people get something for free – and then complain that they can’t do what they want with it – and that the company that supplied them with the – free service – is making money from it.

    I know this particular topic makes for good headlines. I have seen this issue beaten to death in the blogosphere and among a number of people in the SEO crowd. I just think that it is time to let it go. Even if Pinterest has gotten more generous and you are allowed some, or a good portion of your own affiliate links. It doesn’t matter. If you don’t like what they are doing then don’t look for an invite – and don’t join. Simple as that..

    Just sayin…

    Robert C.


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