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Instagram vs Pinterest: Who Gets The ‘Visual Advertising’ Crown?

Instagram and Pinterest – they pretty much rule the world of visual messaging. Instagram has become so popular that it’s not only a noun anymore, it’s a verb and an adjective too. Because for an event, outfit, scene or even breakfast to be truly on the money in 2017 – it absolutely has to be Instagrammable (there’s the adjective) and we all need to Instagram (and that, folks, is the verb). As for Pinterest, well it’s a mood board, pin board and image library all wrapped up in one – a hot spot for visual inspiration. So, who gets the (oh so prestigious) EHD visual advertising crown?

First of all, some context. Because ‘why visual messaging?’ you may say. Well, what if we told you that according to 3M, visual messages are absorbed 60,000 times faster than text – now you’re listening, right?

Well, if you are, then you need to think about 4 key things in relation to which is best – Audience, Content, Intent and Targeting.


From the launch of Instagram in 2010, we’ve seen the social media platform evolve tenfold (complete with its own A-List – otherwise known as the Insta famous. #youcantsnapwithus). With over 600 million active monthly users, up from 200 million in 2014, Instagram is one of the fastest growing social media platforms in the world. So, if you’re looking to increase brand awareness, you’re in luck. In fact, ad recall from Instagram ads is on average 2.8 times higher than Nielsen’s norm for online advertising!

Pinterest on the other hand has an audience roughly a third of the size, but does carry a particular type of demographic. Whilst Instagram has only marginally more female than male users, Pinterest users are largely women – and of an older, wealthier, age bracket.

Both could be winners here – as which you choose will depend on the audience you have in mind. But for sheer volume of eyeballs (not sure about the imagery here) Instagram wins this hands down.


Instagram’s content is largely in the true spirit of social media – breakfast snaps, selfies, holiday pictures, last night’s #wildparty – you name it, it’s there. It’s all about creating and posting aesthetically beautiful content, documenting your life to the masses and scrolling through your feed to find Jack’s been to Prague on a stag do, and Meryl’s only gone and got herself the most adorable new puppy ever. #cute.

Pinterest however, is all about collating ideas, saving ‘how to’ links and getting inspiration for your next dinner or makeover.

When it comes to visual content, the secret is in creating an ad which looks nothing like an ad (we’re masters in the art of illusion here at EHD HQ). So, whilst this is do-able in Instagram, it’s far easier to spot an out of place post among your feed of friend’s and family’s extravaganzas than it is among Pinterest’s related ideas and posts of inspiration.

So – on content – the winner is Pinterest.


Intent is all about the user’s frame of mind when they’re viewing your ad. So, if you’re looking for user engagement, this is where Pinterest really pulls it out the bag. Because whilst Instagram users are largely there for social purposes, Pinterest is a hub for visual shoppers. In fact, Pinterest is the shoppers’ social media platform of choice, with 55% of Pinterest users utilising the site for their shopping in 2016 – compared to just 12% of Instagram users. Of course, it’s still worth noting, there are a lot more Instagram users!

The winner here – Pinterest.


It’s one of the most important factors when it comes to creating a PPC campaign. The ability to home in on your users – and target only those your ad is really relevant to – is the easiest way to maximise the return on your investment. Like Facebook, Instagram offers an extensive list of targeting options – whether it’s by location, demographic, behaviour or even interests.

Pinterest on the other hand has gone a step further, offering the ability to target existing customers, users who’ve visited your site in the past, and groups of people who look and act similar to your audience through ‘lookalike targeting’. We know – terrifying, isn’t it? But oh, so brilliant.


So, whilst we’d like to crown both our visual beauty queens, we’d better not – no one likes a draw, do they?! And, in fact, if you’ve been keeping track you probably already know which of these emerge as our preference.

While we’re still waiting on a response to their invite to our awards ceremony (we’re sure it just got lost in cyberspace somewhere!), we believe that despite often being overlooked by advertisers, Pinterest is a platform that when used to its full potential, can be truly powerful. So hey, Queen Pinterest it is.

But, we must admit – battles aside, we’re pretty fond of Instagram advertising. I mean, with over 600 million active users a month, how could we not be? And if you’re looking to increase brand awareness – well then that’s a goal that Instagram certainly caters to and serves better.

How can we help?

We can implement the right technology and analytics for your business, set up tracking tags across all online activity and create a content strategy for all customer touchpoints that drive the prospects towards the final conversion.

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