In an email sent out to their so-called “power pinners”, and they disclose that they are removing all affiliate links, as well as redirects and trackers from all pins.
Pinterest is not just putting this in place for all future pins. They are also going back and removing affiliate, redirects and trackers from all pins that have been pins to the site previously. This means that if you are making affiliate revenue off of any pins, that will now cease too. They are saying that these old pins with affiliate links will still be there, but the affiliate links will be stripped.
This could also affect people who are simply using redirect links to count the number of times that has been clicked through or to do A/B testing, especially if they are using URL shortening tracker or other link redirect. Because Pinterest plans to include redirects and trackers with what they are removing, even links that are meant to simply track clicks throughs will likely be disabled.
We know two affiliate networks with heavy usage on Pinterest have already been removed – links for both RewardStyle and Hello Society, two networks that have been built heavily on Pinterest promotions, particularly by power pinners. But with Pinterest banning all affiliate links, other affiliate network links will likely be stripped very soon, if they haven’t already.
Pinterest does already have a history of cracking down on affiliate links, such as those from Amazon.com which dates back several years.
Pinterest feels this is a better user experience for their users, which is hard to argue with when faced with some of the spam happening on the platform. There is definitely a need to clean up some of the pin practices. Affiliate links are running rampant but also many are done so that what was pinned actually has nothing to do with what is on the landing page that someone might end up on. And there are others who end up seeing landing pages with “this deal is no longer available” due to an expired affiliate link or “this deal is not available in your country” for those non-US users.
Pinterest is also claiming that these affiliate pins are the source of many irrelevant pins that are showing up in user feeds. And to a certain extent that’s true, because some of the less savvy affiliates have been essentially stuffing keywords into their pins or posting them to an irrelevant group curated boards.
A Pinterest spokesperson sent the following statement to VentureBeat today.
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.
There will definitely be some extremely unhappy power pinners on Pinterest to been making a significant affiliate income simply by pinning “recommended” items which are really just being promoted by those users due to the money they can make from it through the affiliate network.
And of course, Pinterest needs to keep in mind that many of those power pinners are those who made the site as popular as it is today, as many of them are responsible for creating and curating some of the most popular boards on Pinterest. So while removing the links going forward is something that many people can’t argue with, the fact they are going back now to all the old pins and removing the affiliate links is pretty significant.
The timing is also somewhat interesting because it comes hot on the heels of Pinterest running their new promoted apps with Apple. And of course, Pinterest is been heavily promoting their promoted pins, with plans to continue pushing that out to more advertisers.
According to Venture Beat, they are suggesting that those power pinners who are going to lose their affiliate revenue “participate in paid social media marketing involving Pinterest, be paid to curate a board or be paid to create original content for a business.”
Of course, computers can be a lot more creative and how they handle the situation. An easy solution is simply curate the items on their own personal blog, and instead of linking to the affiliate network from Pinterest, they link to it from their blog and then pin straight from their blog instead. It’s an added step, but would be significantly harder for Pinterest to police, if they would want to at all.
Overall, it isn’t surprising that Pinterest has made this move, and many expected it to happen long before now.
Update: When users attempt to click a pin now, they get a notification that the URL was blocked and includes a help link that displays below. This is the same post they have linked to when users try to click a pin that has a URL shortener link such as bit.ly or goo.gl.
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