Pinterest is almost four years old and it's big enough for its britches -- big enough to pull the plug on its affiliate links program, a money-making gravy train that more than a few brands, bloggers and Pinfluencers will sorely miss.
Last Thursday that revenue roll came to a grinding halt for them when Pinterest put the brakes on all affiliate links once and for all. The 70 million-member social scrapbooking site claims it killed off the program to clean up wonky, irrelevant links and pins, but it’s clearly a play for the company to cash in on its market stronghold, something it’s struggled to do for months via Promoted Pins.
“Now, we are removing all affiliate links because they are causing a poor user experience,” a Pinterest spokesperson told Entrepreneur today. “Clickthrough rates should be faster and there will be less broken links. There will also be less irrelevant Pins in the home feed caused by following some group boards. This is not about monetization, this is 100% about the Pinner experience and ensuring relevant content on Pinterest.”
Pinterest’s affiliate links initiative ended on the same day it launched an iOS app “Install” button as part of its new partnership with Apple. Only hours later, also apparently with an eye toward turn pinning into buying, Re/code reported that Pinterest might soon debut an e-commerce “Buy” button, possibly with payments processor Stripe.
This isn’t the first time Pinterest automatically nixed affiliate links, which enabled users to earn a slice of sales from items they pinned on their pages. The startup’s been removing them for the past few years. Some exceptions remained, however, including the fashion-focused affiliate network RewardStyle and “Pinterest talent agency” HelloSociety.
Now that affiliate links are dead and gone, Pinterest users who made money off of them -- many of them popular fashion bloggers -- are kvetching on Twitter and vowing to ditch their Pinterest profiles. Perhaps they’ll rebound over at competitor Keep, which quickly pounced on the opportunity, luring shafted Pinfluencers last Friday with a brand new affiliate program, just in time.
Related: 6 Reasons Not to Ignore Pinterest
The only other way for Pinterest users to make money off the pinning platform now is for brands to pay them to pin on their behalf. SimplyHired currently lists a handful of positions for paid pinners, but, watch out, Pinterest has also posted some jobs there and one is tellingly titled “Spam Specialist.” The main function of the post is to “fight off bad guys and make sure Pinners have a positive, spam-free discovery experience on Pinterest.”