Forrester: Pinterest Doesn't Work For Marketers

While Pinterest’s ad strategy is taking shape, analysts remain on the fence about the pin-based social network, and its near-term marketing potential.

“Many marketers just can’t seem to find success on Pinterest,” Forrester analyst Nate Elliott writes in a new report. “Barely one-half of top brands maintain branded Pinterest boards — and those that do are unsure what to post, collect few followers, and see little user interaction.”

Coca-Cola, for example, has fewer than 5,000 Pinterest followers, while its last 50 pins have been repinned an average of just 11 times each.

After eight months in beta, Pinterest officially launched its Promoted Pins program, at the beginning of the year.

Yet the new program doesn’t give marketers enough Web-based targeting criteria, according to Elliott. “The result of such limited targeting is unclear ad performance,” he suggests.

In its defense, brands that participated in the Promoted Pins beta program saw a 30% increase in “earned media” -- i.e., the share of users who saved a Promoted Pin to a board, according to Pinterest. Per internal findings, Promoted Pins are “repinned" an average of 11 times — the same as non-branded pins.

Pinterest is also more popular than ever. The proportion of online adult women using the service increased from 33% in 2013 to 42% in 2014, according to recent findings from the Pew Research Center.

Historically resistant to Pinterest, men even appear to be warming up to the platform. Indeed, the proportion of online men on Pinterest increased from 8% in 2013 to 13% last year. All together, the total proportion of online adults on Pinterest grew from 21% in 2013 to 28% in 2014 -- while 17% of Pinterest members now use the site daily -- according to Pew.

“There’s so much opportunity,” Elliott writes regarding Pinterest’s popularity.

According to Elliott, another advantage for Pinterest is that Facebook users generate mostly affinity data -- i.e., “information about their tastes and preferences, based on their past experience with brands and products, that’s better suited to targeting brand advertising than direct marketing.”

Pinterest users, however, share more than just historical affinities.

“They share the kind of purchase intent data that’s more commonly seen on search engines like Google,” according to Elliott. “And just as ads targeted with Google’s data generate outstanding direct response, so will ads targeted with Pinterest’s data. Yet “Pinterest is confusing,” Elliott insists. “It’s a bundle of contradictions: at once it offers marketers huge potential and huge frustration.”

As such, “Pinterest’s marketing value lies more in the future than in the present,” he adds. “By 2016, Pinterest’s ad offering could trump that of other social sites -- but today, most brands struggle to successfully use it as a marketing tool.”
4 comments about "Forrester: Pinterest Doesn't Work For Marketers ".
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  1. J S from Ideal Living Media, January 19, 2015 at 4:41 p.m.

    You just have to give a darn, know what you're doing, and pin regularly.

    Many "experts" seem to have no clue, even when they're willing to charge top dollar for their "helpful" advice. PInterest is highly anti spam, so anything too spammy gets set aside, which I'd suspect is largely what the trouble is, described in the article above.

    The trick is: There are no tricks. We took a client's Pinterest site from 10k followers to 250,000 real followers through daily updating, along with a few links to Pinterest on the client's site. That's it. And that's all that's needed.

  2. Ian R Clayton from AXSES INC, January 19, 2015 at 5:04 p.m.

    Yes it is a worth while channel if you use it right. We borrowed its viaual classification ideas for our and it resulted in a 500% in engagement. It began by seeing the tremendous growth of Pinterest in 2012 which is based on visually organizing information. At that time we noted that "Not only was Pinterest attracting a huge following, its click through rates in delivering traffic to merchants/ publishers is significantly higher than other social channels such as Twitter and Google+". So i think it matters how you use it. In any case visual communications is the way of the future and Pinterest is ahead of the game in a lot of respects. But like all social media, its not always the best place to find buyers. Travel shoppers take a winding path and visit 20+ sites. Yr inclusion on their preferred sites is the way to build authority and engage shoppers.

  3. Jonathan Sumner from Agency Unnamed, January 20, 2015 at 11:05 a.m.

    Admittedly, our agency's clients had the same struggles at first. We began serving a few of our larger clients on Pinterest last year and results were lackluster for about 6 months. Middle of last year we started using a 3rd party tool called Tailwind ( and it's made a huge difference! It's helped us get the right data to optimize our strategy, find influencers to partner with and now we also use it to schedule and bulk create pins. 2 of the 3 initial clients now generate more traffic from Pinterest than Twitter (although less than facebook), but all three have grown nicely. We're expanding now to a dozen or so clients based on the results we've seen.

  4. Tim Letscher from Colle+McVoy, January 20, 2015 at 2:04 p.m.

    The work we do with our clients definitely runs counter to the Forrester report and I'll echo what other comments state: have a sound strategy about what you pin and understand the Pinterest landscape. We've had a number of client partners in the beta program and have been really pleased with the results to date. More on our results here:

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