Pinterest pulls ads from Instapaper’s site, makes premium service free

Pinterest is making its first major change to Instapaper since acquiring the read-it-later service in August 2016. But it’s not the one you may have expected from an ad-supported company.

Instead of syndicating its own ads on Instapaper’s site and apps, Pinterest is pulling all ads from Instapaper. It’s not a massive change; Instapaper’s apps never featured ads, and its site wasn’t overloaded with ads. But it’s a departure from other “tech platform buys media property” deals like Facebook–Instagram, Yahoo–Tumblr and Google–YouTube that led to an influx of the platform’s ads onto the properties.

But advertising isn’t the only revenue stream Pinterest is eliminating from Instapaper. The company is also turning its $2.99-a-month subscription product, Instapaper Premium, into a free service. As a result, now anyone using Instapaper will be able to search for text within articles, listen to computer-voiced versions of saved articles, get unlimited use of Instapaper’s speed-reading and annotations features and send articles saved to Instapaper to their Amazon Kindles.

Pinterest’s plan appears to be to give people more reasons to use Instapaper to grow its audience, and then figure out how to make money from that increased audience base. That could lead to Pinterest’s ads eventually making their way onto Instapaper’s site and even its apps. But it doesn’t have to.

Two of Instapaper’s previously paid-only, now-free features could be particularly valuable to Pinterest beyond Instapaper: full-text search of articles and unlimited notes. What words or phrases people are searching for within articles and what they’re writing to annotate articles are new signals that Pinterest — which fancies itself as much of a search engine as a social network — can use when figuring out what organic content and ads to show people on Pinterest and potentially on Instapaper.


About The Author

Tim Peterson
Tim Peterson, Third Door Media's Social Media Reporter, has been covering the digital marketing industry since 2011. He has reported for Advertising Age, Adweek and Direct Marketing News. A born-and-raised Angeleno who graduated from New York University, he currently lives in Los Angeles. He has broken stories on Snapchat's ad plans, Hulu founding CEO Jason Kilar's attempt to take on YouTube and the assemblage of Amazon's ad-tech stack; analyzed YouTube's programming strategy, Facebook's ad-tech ambitions and ad blocking's rise; and documented digital video's biggest annual event VidCon, BuzzFeed's branded video production process and Snapchat Discover's ad load six months after launch. He has also developed tools to monitor brands' early adoption of live-streaming apps, compare Yahoo's and Google's search designs and examine the NFL's YouTube and Facebook video strategies.