Updated 12:07 a.m. with more details from Pinterest.
As Pinterest’s monetization plans materialize, the social network is pulling the plug on affiliate networks.
Pinterest warned select “power pinners” this evening that it will now “automatically remove all affiliate links, redirects and trackers on Pins.” According to an email forwarded to VentureBeat, Pinterest began removing these links today, and specifically targeted links from popular affiliate networks RewardStyle and Hello Society. This is not the first time Pinterest has banned affiliate networks, but the company has never issued a total ban.
These announcements arrive at a curious time.
Pinterest’s plan to turn its millions of users into currency has made headlines lately. In recent months, Pinterest has pitched Promoted Pins, an ad offering that followed its own affiliate link experiment. Then Pinterest announced a deal with Apple, potentially paving the way for app install ads. Hours later, news broke that Pinterest could launch its own buy button in partnership with Stripe.
Pinterest clearly aims to monetize its network, and no matter how it plans to turn a buck, a pool of power users dependent on affiliates could get in the way. It’s noteworthy that Pinterest appears determined to handle the situation delicately.
In an email breaking the news to select users, Pinterest insisted that “if you’ve participated in either of these affiliate networks, all your past Pins will show up normally and still be clickable.” No pins will be deleted, Pinterest claims, but the tracking links attached to them will be stripped.
In other words: don’t panic, but we just killed your affiliate paycheck.
Instead of affiliates, Pinterest has asked its power users to monetize their fan base in approved ways. The company suggests: “participate in paid social media marketing involving Pinterest, be paid to curate a board or be paid to create original content for a business.”
Reached by VentureBeat, a Pinterest spokesperson offered us the following statement:
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.
That spokesperson tells us this change was not at all influenced by the company’s own monetization plays: “This is 100% about the Pinner experience and ensuring relevant content on Pinterest,” they said.
We’ve reached out to RewardStyle and Hello Society to learn more. At the very least, Pinterest will have some angry users on its hands as word of the change gets out.
But it’s quite likely that a majority of Pinterest’s users won’t notice the change at all — aside from a horde of angry bloggers.
Later, Hello Society chief Kyla Brennan sent us the following:
Pinterest is continuing to evolve as a platform, and its terms of service are, as one would expect, changing with it. We can certainly respect these new changes while continuing to help brands find success on Pinterest through high quality content and campaigns, and are especially committed to keeping jobs in place for the hundreds of influential and talented pinners in our network.