Last year Pinterest released a Beta testing for selected advertisers to try paid marketing on the Pinterest platform. According to Pinterest Business teams, the test was so successful that since Christmas it is available to everyone.
Pinterest, the clever Facebook?
The birth of a new social network is always an event. When a new sparkle shines in the skyline of Social Media, we are full of hope that we are going to see the next big thing. Unfortunately it is not always the case as we feel that Facebook is overwhelming everything. Since the launch of Facebook in 2004, social media was a true revolution in how people would connect, communicate, share, play and engage with brands and individuals. Since then, hundreds of new social networks were born and almost died as fast as they were created. In the past 10 years, there are social networks which made a solid place in the social landscape:
- LinkedIn since 2002
- Twitter since 2006
- Tumblr since 2007
- Instagram since 2010
- Pinterest since 2010
Forget Myspace and other Flickr. Right now ELLO, Snapchat, Whisper or Thumb are trying to survive. It is very hard to move away from the Facebook era. Nevertheless we can see that Pinterest did bring something new in terms of audience, structure and purpose.
Pinterest has a very specific usage. While you are checking on your friends on Facebook or getting news updates on Twitter, Pinterest help you find products you want to have or to buy. When images are pined properly, it is a direct link from the website original location. You can imagine the interest of e-Business actors that will provide a straight gateway to online purchase. Nevertheless, Pinterest brought 2 main challenges to online marketers. The first one is about the quality of the content. Pinterest users have a very high expectancy in terms of image quality. They wish literally to be blowed away by each image they see in the platform. This reflects today’s importance of content. Content is key. You can imagine that if an user has a HD screen on his smartphone, he wishes to see mind-blowing images and videos.
The second challenge is the fact brands could not promote their content via paid marketing. So in order to increase your visibility and the number of followers you should either be quite well known or to work with a network of influent “pinners” that would bring visibility to your content. While big brands would have millions of fans on Facebook they would end up with a couple of thousands followers on Pinterest. Fortunately now the lonely days are over. Pinterest have implemented the most-expected Promoted pins!
The Pinterest user, so different and so similar at the same time
Pinterest is today almost 90 million users, mostly women 25 to 54 years old. 60% of users are based in the USA and the trend is to reach 50%. In terms of devices, 75% of all activity from users happen on mobile (smartphones and tablets) which is the same level as for Twitter, Tumblr and Flipboard. Each user would spend 98 minutes per month in average on the platform which is twice more than Twitter.
There are more than 30 billion pins on Pinterest and today (end of 2014) Pinterest drives more traffic to brand websites than Twitter and Reddit together.
According to Pinterest, the users, called Pinners, would more buy online than the average internet user by +20%. Pinterest knows the power of its users. The Pinterest community seems quite Premium in comparison to others. They spend in average 14.2 minutes per visit. 20% of Pinterest users have an income equal or superior to $75’000. 27% of them are under 35 years old! So the Pinterest audience is perfectly in the bull’s eye of luxury marketer target: young, wealthy and connected. It is party time!
Pinterest Promoted Pins, how does it work?
From a brand point of view, online marketers will be able to finally do their jobs on Pinterest. Best practices do not change, you still need to keep the high quality content pinning. The main difference is that now you can push the pins towards a much broader audience. The system is pretty simple if you know Facebook marketplace. The Promoted pins interface is pretty simple and might get richer with options in the future. You can target people by Location, Gender, Language and Device.
Pinterest algorithm is not able to target people per interest or at least per kind of boards they have or tags they use. So if you are a quite specific brand, you might end up targeting all women in the USA using iPhones and speaking english. Welcome to Mass-Media!
Pinterest know how premium its audience is, so they are happy to have companies to pay a premium price for advertising. In average the Pinterest CPM will be around $30-$40 while Facebook will be more around $6-$7 Another limitation is that Pinterest promotions operate with a second-price auction. That means you’ll be charged what you would have needed to pay to beat the next bidder in the auction. So if your competitor bids $1.50 on a specific keyword and you want to beat him, you will probably pay $1.55 if you wish to appear.
This means somehow that the more money you spend the best the results. Good for Pinterest, not so much for brands, specially the small ones. Google adwords has a more fair system in which a quality score is given to each campaign and used keyword. This means that the brand doing the “best” job will get the best results. If it is only a matter of money, spammers can easily use the system to massively push their content.
According to Pinterest, most of companies which have been using promoted pins in the beta testing period have improved the reach by 30% and more. The “organic” repins also improved as the visibility grows. So we suppose that so far companies are happy with it. I think so far the frustration of not being able to promote any content was higher than any ROI consideration.
One hot question I have is how Pinterest is going to manage a user “timeline”. In deed, you can imagine that Amazon.com with 9’900 followers only will not hesitate a second to push all their content. By representing 20% of worldwide e-Commerce, the American company will definitely use “some” promotion. Ads or Promoted Pins will appear on the user’s timeline as a normal pin. It is the same strategy as Twitter or Instagram. Only a little mention in the bottom of the pin saying “Promoted Pin” will differentiate them from others. This is suppose to not disrupt the user experience in the platform. Pinterest got positive results from the Beta testing period on this as Twitter and Instagram did.
In conclusion, Pinterest is finally releasing the power of its platform. The company, only 4 years old is evaluated at $ 5 Billion. Experts like Mashable or TechCrunch believe Pinterest might generate $500 million in advertising income by the end of 2016. It can be probably much more. Last Christmas brought a nice present to online marketers and serial pinners.