Pinterest, the six year old startup valued at $11 billion valuation is becoming a darling company for marketers. The social bookmarking network with almost 50 million active users is making remarkable changes to its advertising product by giving different ways for advertisers to target users (like by interests, personas, or life stages), and several new pricing options, that it plans to roll out this summer.
The biggest announcement in all of this is the launch of Cinematic Pins – video like promoted pins that only move when the user scrolls. The animation stops when that user stops scrolling, and it is fully animated if the user taps on the Promoted Pin to blow it up.
However, Cinematic Pins are not to be confused with the moving ads developed by rivals like Facebook and Twitter. On those platforms, videos start when you stop scrolling over them and stop when you scroll away. On Pinterest, the opposite happens. The Cinematic Pins are seen in motion as the user scrolls, but the motion stops when the scrolling stops. “Users want to feel like they’re in control, and we’ve done a bunch of user testing—users are delighted by this experience,” said Tim Kendall, Pinterest’s general manager of monetization. “They wind up scrolling back and forth. They love controlling the motion.”
Already the latest offering from Pinterest is being tested by brands like Unilever, The Gap, L’Oreal, Nestlé, Walgreens, Target, Visa and Wendy’s. For instance Wendy’s which has a majority of women users is pushing Cinematic Pins that will highlight a strawberry salad, showing the berries as they transform from field to table.
Wendy’s is using Pinterest as a story-telling platform. In the case of the cinematic ad, it is trying to explain why it doesn’t have the seasonal Strawberry Fields Chicken Salad all year, a frequent question it gets from customers come August when the supply of fresh strawberries tends to run out.
“We’re frankly still trying to figure out Pinterest,” said Brandon Rhoten, vice president of digital experience at Wendy’s. “We’re not a considered purchase. You don’t create a giant board of cheeseburgers that you’re going to go eat in the next week, or salads.”
Pinterest is also bringing out new forms of specific audience targeting along with Cinematic Pins. Marketers can target Promoted Pins based on interests or stages of like — such as for traveling or for designing a home.
The Cinematic Pins and audience targeting are part of Pinterest’s new three-stage advertising offering that starts with awareness marketing. The company is also releasing a new pricing model that allows marketers to pay for Promoted Pins based on engagement. Instead of just choosing to pay for views or clicks on their Promoted Pins, advertisers can now choose to pay with a “cost-per-engagement” (CPE) model or a “cost-per-action” model (CPA).
With CPE, advertisers will only pay when users engage with their pins, like through re-pinning, and with CPA, advertisers will only pay when users download their app or actually click through to their website and make a purchase. “We only want them to pay us when the ads create that value,” Kendall said. “It takes the risk out of it for marketers.”
The site is also introducing an in-house creative studio called Pin Factory that will let advertisers pay to have Pinterest design the best Pins possible for them. Pinterest already has tools for brands to track the performance of their pins through their Marketing Developer Program, with this feature Pinterest offerings to marketers becomes more comprehensive.
“Until now most of Pinterest’s ad products have been aimed at brand advertisers, but now Pinterest has something for all stages of the marketing funnel, for smaller as well as larger businesses,” eMarketer principal analyst Debra Aho Williamson said.
Pinterest does not say how much revenue it generates in ad sales annually but it boasts about impressive engagement rates keeping a fine balance between paid and earned media. “For every 100 Promoted Pin impressions, brands see 30 free views thanks to repining,” Kendall said.
Defintely the latest ad offerings could be exciting for marketers and to quote Kendall right now the site has the “best kind of business model”. But will this compromise the user experience on the site? Pinterest had about 72.8 million unique U.S. visitors in March, up 25% from a year earlier, according to ComScore.
Kendall informed that letting advertisers “promote” their pins doesn’t affect the user experience.”Ads don’t feel at all foreign or unwelcome to its users. Two-thirds of the 50 billion pins on Pinterest are already from businesses and brands. Except to make the pins more useful.”