“Partnerships [with brands] aren’t just, ‘Go get ad dollars.’ That’s not how we think about it here. We’re really about teaching partners how to be their best on Pinterest and connect consumers in a very authentic way.”
Joanne Bradford, head of partnerships at Pinterest
Joanne Bradford, head of commercial and content partnerships at Pinterest, made the above statement to ReadWrite in an article that ran on May 30, 2014, outlining her “slow and steady” plan to help Pinterest monetize – a task she’d been brought on to help drive around six months earlier. As the third largest social network helping more than 44.5 million users get crafty, plan parties and organize their wants and self-improvements into neatly curated and stylistically clean, digital bulletin boards, Pinterest has exemplified Bradford’s sentiment by remaining ad-free since it’s 2010 debut, aside from a Beta program that opened to select marketing partners in June. Having promised brands the year before that it would be making its first finely-tuned and tested advertising product available to the public by the end of 2014, the company cut their self-imposed and eagerly anticipated deadline pretty close by announcing the official availability of Promoted Pins to all U.S.-based partners beginning January 1.
Promoted Pins will look and feel almost exactly the same as organic pins, appearing in search streams with the words “Promoted by X” below the pin’s image as their only ad identifier. They can be targeted by pinners’ interests and purchased on a CPM model with advertisers only paying for clicks through to their websites – something the Pinterest people also like to promote as “free impressions!” The launch announcement also included some interesting findings from their last few months in beta testing such as:
- Promoted Pins were repinned an average of 11 times or higher, on par with repin performance of organic pins, and
- Brands outside of the social network’s core categories, like financial and auto companies, found success in the program. Pinterest’s core categories are crafts, drink, food, home décor and women’s fashion.
So does this mean Pinterest ads are finally here and you can start using them today? Well, not exactly. You see, the official official word from the Pinterest blog is that “reservation-based” Promoted Pins are presently open to all U.S.-based partners. If you were to take a quick trip to try and get started, you’d see that there’s a wait list you have to join. Ah ha, that’s what reservation-based means.
Additionally, it seems that by attempting to join the wait list I’ve been able to answer a question I hadn’t been able to with any news articles or the official announcement. Can I, as an individual, pay to promote my pins? All of the materials explain that Promoted Pins are sponsored by companies. Yet while Pinterest does allow for differentiation of users and brand pages as part of the signup process, similarly to Facebook, both account types have equal functionality and appearance, much more similar to social networks like Twitter and Instagram. When signing up for the wait list, interested parties are encouraged to provide information including their company, job title, Pinterest profile, number of employees, business type, industry and monthly marketing spend. If I had to guess, I’d say these filters will help Pinterest carefully select exactly how their monetization program takes shape (meaning those individuals who join the wait list probably won’t be receiving welcome emails any time soon). It’s not necessarily a surprising move from the kings of curation.
Perhaps this Pinterest advertising thing will be slower going than we thought. While you’re waiting, stick around and check out what we can do with other social advertising channels and campaigns in the meantime. From where we sit, social advertising is still one of the most targeted options that can deliver immediate results on a reasonable budget, and the options are expanding all the time.
What do you think – have you tried any social advertising on Facebook or Twitter, and how did it work for you?