March 19, 2018

Pinterest - Attracting Greater Advertiser Interest

By Claudia Geller
Improvements in Pinterest’s unique and native approach to advertising are gaining the attention of brand and direct-response advertisers.

During the last eight years, Pinterest Inc. has gained popularity as a platform that gives users the ability to discover, collect and share items on boards they create. Pinterest’s user base is relatively small, but it is growing and changing. Although the user base is primarily women, 40% of new-user sign-ups now are men. The user base is much smaller than Facebook Inc.’s, though it is extremely attractive to advertisers because the mostly female demographic, aged 20-40, are more likely to shop and buy online. Boosting the male demographic is likely to attract an additional set of advertisers and broaden Pinterest's overall appeal.

Pinterest’s new COO, Francoise Brougher, should bring the experience necessary to guide the company through its next phase of growth, expand its user base internationally and scale its global advertising program. Brougher was previously with Square Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google in similar functions.

Pinterest now has a full range of advertising units, including Action Buttons, Promoted Pins, Promoted Video Pins, One-Tap Pins and Promoted App Pins. All have a native appearance and enable users to make a purchase. Sources said advertisers are attracted to native-looking ads since they catch the attention of users as they browse their Pinterest feed and add to the experience instead of detracting from it as they do in other social feeds.

Advertising sources said their interest in the Pinterest platform has been increasing since 4Q17, and some have already started to divert small amounts of their budgets from other social platforms to Pinterest. “When it comes to our clients, Pinterest is the place to be,” said one source. “Budgets will increase this year on Pinterest, and they will play a key role in our media planning. Their targeting is getting better and better, and now you can bid on search terms. That's huge.”

Sources anticipate a major shift within Pinterest from an inspirational platform to a shopping platform in 2018. “Right now, it’s more about inspiration, but it's difficult to shop on Pinterest,” another buyer said. “We are hearing talk in the industry about that happening soon, and if that happens, we might shift ad dollars from Facebook to Pinterest.”

In addition to improved targeting, sources said Pinterest has also improved its ability to track offline sales as well as integrate the shopping experience with other platforms. One source said, “Pinterest also recently released the ability to track offline sales, and they are integrated with DataLogix, owned by Oracle [Corp.]. But the biggest change is their introduction of auto-play video and shopping campaigns where the Google Product Listing Ads [PLA] content shows up on Pinterest.”

Sources said visual search is a trend to watch for on Pinterest. Although using a smartphone camera to visually search for a product on Pinterest is not a new feature on the site, Pinterest has recently introduced several new ways to use the feature, and advertisers see potential for both brand and direct-response advertising. “If they can turn visual search, which is something they are talking about, into more of an SEO product, and look to monetize it, that would be attractive,” said a source.

Contributors: Adrienne Bard and Bob Steelman

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