When I was starting my career in marketing. I cut my teeth on the agency side, not in the world of marketing technology I live in now. To start a project, the creative directors I worked with were fond of “mood-boarding,” which meant assembling a set of images and pieces of text that felt appropriately thematic for the brand we were working on. Mood-boarding was about evoking a unique style. When you had little to work with, mood boards were the best way to start planning.
Later, when Pinterest came along, I saw something I recognized. Pinterest was a space for the digital version of mood-boarding. And from the beginning, it too was all about planning.
Twitter has its finger on the pulse of the real-time world. Facebook is the connective tissue for the world's personal relationships. And LinkedIn is where people maintain their professional brands and networks. For years, we've viewed these as the big three platforms for social advertising -- each with its own dynamics, and, more importantly, with its own advertising strengths.
For example, Twitter has proven to be a great place to sync ads with real-time events, and to reach young audiences. Facebook is the best place to go to reach people based on their individual identities and their commonalities with already satisfied customers, through lookalike audience targeting. LinkedIn is where advertisers go to reach personas based on professions, professional associations and career stages.
Enter Pinterest, the advertising platform for reaching users who are planning for the future. Advertisers will soon come to think of it as the channel for capitalizing on purchase intent. Pinterest has some compelling evidence to prove it’s already a highly effective place to turn dreams about the future into products purchased, too, including an independent study that suggests 87% of Pinterest users have purchased something because of Pinterest.
Over the last few weeks, Pinterest has begun a major push toward its advertising-enabled future, first by unveiling the Cinematic Pin, a unique ad type that is similar to but not the same as a traditional video ad. Pinterest also explained its new form of audience targeting that lets advertisers reach users based on interests and influence, with options that include Millennials, foodies and travelers. Then, Pinterest offered a sneak peek at Buyable Pins, which will enable advertisers to sell the goods pictured directly to hopeful “Pinners” (AKA Pinterest users) who are ready to “Buy it.”
At first glance, these appear to be the same sorts of things other ad-enabled social channels are offering. However, the new aspect Pinterest brings to the table is its focus on the future. Viewed in the context of intent, these announcements and Pinterest advertising in general should be very different from what we've seen elsewhere.
After all, advertising to “foodies” who are influencing the aspirations of users planning the next big dinner party is not the same as advertising to people who have used hashtags about food in the past. Similarly, selling apparel to a user within the context of her “back to school” Pinterest Board is about converting on discovery, but also on highly selective, personal curation. This is very different from trying to sell users something in a social photo album on another channel.
The sum total of these and other distinctions implies that the value to brands advertising on Pinterest is materially different than the value of advertising on other social channels. This is not to say that Pinterest is a reason to leave other channels behind -- no way, given that its active user base of 72.8 million people is roughly 5% the size of Facebook’s, now 1.4 billion users strong.
Instead, it’s critical for advertisers to start experimenting with Pinterest now that it’s an option. It will most certainly be an additive channel and the best choice in some circumstances.
Isn’t that what’s on the future-plan of every great marketer today, anyway: a whole shopping list of channels and tactics to support our fast-changing strategies? A list of options to choose from, depending on what you’re really trying to move the needle on, and with whom? Add Pinterest to your ad-tech mood board. Now’s the time to start planning for your future, and your company’s.