Media Planning & Buying Social Media

Pinterest’s Promoted Pins Up the Ante for Paid Social Marketing

January 14, 2015

On the heels of Pinterest introducing new Analytics and Conversations features, the platform recently opened its Promoted Pins program to all U.S.-based partners on January 1. As a natural extension of the way Pinterest users utilize the platform for search and discovery, the broad availability of Promoted Pins creates new opportunities and advantages for marketers to reach and grow their target audiences.

Organically, Pinterest is driven by a growing, active fan base with 68.4 million monthly users in the U.S. and 111 percent growth in active users in the past six months. Furthermore, Pinterest has proven its ability to impact retail performance, with the platform accounting for 15 percent of retail referral traffic.

Combined with Pinterest’s ability to drive e-commerce and purchase intent, the platform’s advancements in building Promoted Pins as a paid social product will help brands create new opportunities by giving marketers the ability to deliver more focused content to specific audience segments beyond their existing fan bases. The unique advantage of Pinterest is that marketers can base media and targeting decisions on the ability to observe – not just imply – consumer interests.

According to Joanne Bradford, Pinterest’s Head of Partnerships, “On Facebook, you think about friends, and on Twitter you think about news. On Pinterest, you think about what you want to do, where you want to go, what you want to buy.”

How Pinterest Promoted Pins Work
Because advertising on the platform appears native and seamless to users, there is a lot of opportunity for Pinterest to continue to improve its paid advertising and targeting capabilities throughout the coming year. Currently, Promoted Pins run on a cost-per-impression model (CPM), allowing advertisers to only pay for the views or impressions that their ads receive. Considering how quickly consumers move through social content on platforms, and that an ad is deemed “viewable” by IAB standards if 50 percent of the ad is viewed for just one second, this current format can be costly, particularly on Pinterest. Although CPMs on Pinterest happen to be higher than on other social media platforms, this challenge is offset by the platform’s very desirable, highly engaged demographic.

In the eight-month beta test of Promoted Pins, which included brands such as Expedia, Nestle, Kraft, Ziploc, Old Navy, Gap and Target, marketers saw a 30 percent increase in earned impressions. Additionally, Pinterest is demonstrating Promoted Pins are more evergreen than other paid social advertising, with Beta partners seeing a 5 percent increase in earned media the month after their pins were promoted – creating a platform that is even more so steeped in discovery.

Pinterest stated that as the Promoted Pins program rolls out, it will also offer additional targeting and ad format options to marketers, making the platform more competitive with Facebook and Twitter. Current Promoted Pins are targeted using demographics such as gender and location, as well as topics based on current set Pinterest categories like “Food & Drink” or “Home Décor.”  Pinterest is also working on rolling out an auction-based cost-per-click (CPC) model of Promoted Pins that is currently in beta and may have implications for direct response focused clients in the future.

Marketer Implications
Brands should begin optimizing organic content to make future paid content more successful by:

  • Applying Pinterest best practices to all content: Pinterest has identified some best practices for promoted content that include using vertical images instead of horizontal, optimizing images and descriptions, and adding links to the pins. Marketers should avoid pricing information or calls-to-action on images, and avoid adding dates to the pin descriptions if the pin is around a giveaway or promotion as Pinterest content is evergreen and will live on following any campaign push. For further inspiration, marketers should view Pinterest’s Promoted Pins board to get a feel for other successful paid content.
  • Analyzing top performing pins and identifying trends: With access to Pinterest’s analytics feature, brands gain the advantage of learning from their top performing content to create more successful paid content. By analyzing a brand’s most-clicked and repinned content, marketers can draw conclusions about visuals and topics that are strong performers and determine how their descriptions are working to possibly indicate revenue potential.
  • Creating pins to reach consumers at all points of the Pinterest cycle: Pinterest users explore and pin content based on four stages: just looking, maybe I could, narrowing it down, and I know what I need. By creating pins that appeal to a businesses’ target demographic at these various stages of discovery with paid support, brands have a huge opportunity to reach their target audiences and drive purchase intent.

Pinterest is flexing its muscle to compete for paid advertising dollars, and its Promoted Pins program is another step in the right direction.

As Pinterest continues to grow, so does its user base. Pinterest recently announced that men are its fastest growing demographic, challenging marketers’ perceptions that the platform’s primary demographic is Midwestern moms. As additional information continues to surface around the next phases of the Promoted Pins rollout, brands should explore the platform’s expanded targeting options as well as learnings from the newly-launched Pinstitute to continue to develop and evolve their Pinterest strategies to take advantage of the platform’s full reach – organic and paid.

Amy Peterman, Director, Paid Social Practice Lead; James Drewe, Associate Media Director; Phillip Huynh, Associate Media Director; and Molly Baker, Media Manager at 360i contributed to this post.

Cover photo via New York Times