Media Planning & Buying Social Media

Pinterest’s Promoted Pins Update Preps the Platform for Monetization

May 21, 2015

Over the past few years, we’ve seen Facebook and Twitter evolve their product offerings to help brands drive users through to a sale. Yesterday, Pinterest announced  that it would be taking similar steps to enhance the user experience on its platform and make it more compelling to advertisers.

Anyone following Pinterest has likely heard the term “the consumer path” quite a bit. What is it? It’s the concept of driving awareness to generate intent to lead to some sort of action. For those of you reading that think this concept sounds familiar, you are correct – this is the sales funnel that marketers have been looking at for ages. But while the concept of the path may not be new, the idea that the entire path can occur on one platform is.

The below post gives an overview of several of the more prominent updates Pinterest is making to monetize its platform.

Cinematic Pins
Joining Facebook and Twitter, Pinterest introduced a video unit (of sorts). Through it’s mobile-only Cinematic Pin, Pinterest is allowing brands to tell unique and compelling stories through the use of high impact, animated units. Unlike other platforms, the unit itself does not auto play or require a click to play, but rather animates with the user’s scroll. Once clicked on, the ad takes over the screen. The result of this different approach is that the unit feels more natural to the user experience, and can help brands stand out in a sea of brand pins.

As with all its advertising units, Pinterest is seeking to make the integration seamless and welcome by its community. According to Tim Kendall, Pinterest’s general manager of monetization, when creating Cinematic Pins, Pinterest turned to users for feedback on what they’d like to see. He said, “What we heard was, auto-play ads are interruptive, and this is so much better because it keeps me in control. We didn’t even bother testing auto-play [based on the response from our users with this product].”

Enhanced Targeting
Previously, advertisers on Pinterest were only able to target around 30 high level categories (such as tech, hair and food). While this approach has proven successful, it somewhat limits the ability of users to discover new content that isn’t contextually related to the pins they’re already browsing. To remedy this, Pinterest is in the process of rolling out Audience-based targeting. This targeting moves the focus from the content being consumed to the persona/life stage of the user (as indicated by their actions on the platform). This allows advertisers to target groups such as Millennials, foodies and travelers based on their interest, personas, or life stages.

New Pricing Models
In addition to the new targeting options available to brands, Pinterest is introducing new pricing models.

  • Cost-Per-Engagement: While Pinterest’s previous ad products looked at the top (CPM) and bottom (CPC) of the sales funnel, mid-funnel content did not necessarily have a way to be priced appropriately. This changed with the introduction of Cost-Per-Engagement pricing, which will now allow advertisers to “track future intent” through positive actions with brand pins.
  • Cost-Per-Action: Going one-step further than its current Cost-Per-Click auctions Pinterest is in the process of allowing brands to purchase based on conversions. These conversions can take the form of any action on site (such as purchase or lead gen) or app download.

Additional Updated Features:

  • Promoted App Pins: Brands can now put paid media behind App Rich Pins, which debuted in February. These US-only pins allow users to download iOS apps straight from Pinterest. With over 80 percent of traffic on Pinterest coming from mobile, this is a huge opportunity for businesses to reach consumers on a new level.
  • Pin Factory: Pinterest will begin offering a new creative suite called “Pin Factory” which will allow brands to pay for Pinterest to help them in creating images and descriptions. This is a chance for businesses to tap into the knowledge that the Pinterest has about what content is performing well on the platforms.

What This Means for Marketers
While the recent updates show Pinterest’s intent on monetizing the platform, they also convey a “consumer first” focus. Outside of the updated pricing models, the targeting update and introduction of Cinematic Pins add additional value for users by providing more relevant and richer content. Aligning advertising with consumer behavior to make the platform more effective for marketers is something that Pinterest appears to be keeping in mind with the release of its latest updates. Paid social will continue to grow in relevance and importance as platforms like Pinterest continue to enhance their offerings, and clients will need to ensure their strategies continue to align with the latest updates and opportunities to reach the right consumers, with the right messages, at the right times.

Authors: Phillip Huynh, Associate Director, Paid Social and Amy Donnelly, Senior Social Marketing Manager at 360i.

Cover photo via Pinterest