Pinterest Ad Biz Soars

Pinterest’s monetization efforts may be doing even better than it claims.

In fact, the image-based social network reportedly expects to rake in $3 billion in revenue in 2018.

If accurate, that would be dramatically higher than the roughly $100 million in revenue Pinterest reportedly took in last year.

Pinterest is betting its windfall on a successful international expansion. Already, during the first half of 2016, the company is expecting international users to account for more than 50% of its overall audience, a source tells The Wall Street Journal.

Following the lead of Facebook and Twitter, Pinterest recently began inviting every small- and medium-size business in the country to join its self-serve ad platform.

The pin-sharing platform also increased the number of keywords and specific interests that advertisers can sell against.

Last summer, Pinterest launched a new video unit along with fresh targeting features, cost-per-engagement measurement tools, more accountable pricing, and an in-house creative team.

So far, the efforts appear to be paying off.

“Our Pinterest advertising business grew by 215% from Q3 to Q4 2015, and we expect that number will continue to increase this year,” Jamie Tedford, founder and CEO of Brand Networks, recently told Social Media & Marketing Daily. Brand Networks helps brands advertise on Pinterest.

This year, Pinterest will have 54.6 million domestic users -- up 9% by eMarketer’s count. As has long been the case with the platform, the vast majority of is users (81.2%) are female.

Trying to live up to its $11 billion valuation, Pinterest is still trying to map out a clear monetization strategy.

Last summer, the company started rolling out a “buy it” button on its pins on iPhone and iPad apps. It also launched new shop categories, including "Shop our picks" -- a curated selection of seasonal goods -- and "Shop" for the latest buyable Pins

Yet analysts were unimpressed with the effort. “The energy … appears premature,” Forrester analyst Sucharita Mulpuru wrote in a related report.

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