In an analyst note about Facebook’s advertising strategy, CitiGroup let slip that it believes that Pinterest will launch its ads API “either at the end of 2014 or early 2015.”
The move will be huge: Pinterest already controls 23% of referral traffic to e-commerce sites across the web. injecting ads into Pinterest’s retail traffic referral mix will make it one of the more important shopping sites on the web.
An ads API (application programming interface) lets advertisers create their own ads and plug them directly into the company’s platform, using whatever targeting data the company allows. It’s how you see so many ads on Facebook, for instance.
Generally, when a tech startup releases its ads API, that is the point it has finally become serious about generating revenue. The step after that is usually an IPO or an acquisition. Facebook’s IPO came six months after its Ads API was launched. Twitter’s IPO came nine months after the same event.
According to the Citi note, there was there was “general excitement” about the new monetization opportunities that releasing the API would present.
This detail aligns with our own suspicions about amped up advertising coming to Pinterest soon. We recently spotted a job posting for a front-end ad engineer. The ad hinted that Pinterest is looking to start rolling out advertising more aggressively in the near future.
The move makes sense, because brands have already started swarming the site. In general, Pinterest is a product- and image-driven environment where brands are embraced, and it has already proved that it powers a huge amount of social commerce.
Business Insider has reached out to Pinterest for comment.