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Pinterest to promote pins in first ad initiative

The social network for scrapbookers will test the ad waters by promoting business pins in search results and category feeds.

Screenshot by Nicole Cozma/CNET

Pinterest is following the precedent set by Facebook and Twitter and will soon introduce native advertising in the form of "promoted pins," the company announced Thursday.

Promoted pins will eventually be brand-sponsored content that members find in search results and category feeds. The company said it is not charging for its first tests of the ad product, which have yet to officially begin.

The startup delivered word of its advertising plans in an e-mail penned by CEO Ben Silbermann that was sent to members today.

"I know some of you may be thinking, 'Oh great...here come the banner ads.' But we're determined to not let that happen," the Pinterest chief said. As an example, he said members might find, "a pin for a Darth Vader outfit from a costume shop...promoted in a search for 'halloween.'"

The company, he promised, will do its best to ensure that promoted pins are tasteful, related to stuff users are interested in, and improved based on member feedback.