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Pinterest Ads Are About to Become a Way Bigger Business

Online scrapbooking website Pinterest is planning an aggressive expansion of its ad business this summer.

The company will begin offering self-service ads through online auctions in this month, operations head Don Faul told the Wall Street Journal Thursday. The ad units, targeted at small and medium-sized businesses, will allow marketers to bid to have their ads served against specific categories on Pinterest, such as fashion and home decor, and pay on a cost-per-click basis. Previous Pinterest ads targeted large, deep-pocketed brands and had rates set based on a cost per 1,000 views.

The new ads will put Pinterest in more direct competition with other social networks that use an auction system, such as Facebook and Twitter, as well as search engines like Google.

Pinterest has recently been trying to reposition itself as a curated search engine, rather than a social media site. The company unveiled in April a more robust search engine that helps guide users toward specific experiences and products when they input broad search terms. The new engine also presents a great opportunity to show off more ads, which appear as promoted pins at the top of search results.

Pinterest closed a $200 million round of venture funding in May, valuing the company at $5 billion.

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