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Pinterest Kills Affiliate Links as It Readies a Buy Button

Social networking site Pinterest is banning the use of affiliate links and redirects according to VentureBeat, which broke the story on Thursday.

The news came as rumors surfaced that Pinterest was planning to launch a buy button later this year, possibly in partnership with payment service Stripe. But the company denied it was blocking affiliates due to monetization purposes.

“This is 100% about the Pinner experience and ensuring relevant content on Pinterest,” a spokesperson told Mediapost, which pointed out that Pinterest was, nevertheless, “aggressively pursuing various monetization opportunities.”

In 2013, for example, Pinterest launched an ad format called Promoted pins.

Pinterest issued a statement to reporters saying it had observed affiliate links and redirects causing irrelevant posts (Pins) to show in feeds as well as broken links “and other spammy behavior.” The company said, “We believe this change will enable us to keep the high bar of relevancy and quality Pinners expect from Pinterest.”

The Wall Street Journal said Pinterest claimed it had been automatically removing affiliate links for years but had allowed some exceptions that were “maintaining good quality.”

“RewardStyle, an affiliate network that caters to the fashion industry and works with 9,000 bloggers, websites and other publishers, was among those that had been allowed to link, until yesterday,” the Wall Street Journal wrote on Friday. It quoted a Pinterest spokesperson who said, “We have noticed their Pinner behavior going downhill. This has caused slower delivery of Pins and less relevant Pins in people’s home feeds.”

VentureBeat said Hello Society, a company billing itself as a “Pinterest marketing agency,” was also affected by the new policy.

Online sellers are using Pinterest, but as a marketing tool rather than an ecommerce platform, according to EcommerceBytes readers participating in the annual Sellers Choice Awards in January.

Pinterest has received backing by online marketplace Rakuten and venture capitalists.

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Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com. See disclosure at EcommerceBytes.com/disclosure/.