In April, Pinterest announced that it has amassed over 30 billion pins, across its 70 million strong user base. It is no surprise, then, that the social pin-board is looking toward monetisation with ‘promoted pins’. Last month, Pinterest piloted the ads with a variety of American brands such as ABC Family, Banana Republic, GAP, Kraft, Target, and Walt Disney Parks and Resorts.
But it’s not just the big players who stand to benefit; Pinterest is also trying out a self-service, performance based approach for smaller businesses. According to Ryan Lawler at TechCrunch, these ‘promoted pins’ will follow a similar model to Google AdWords: “Pinterest’s new Promoted Pins product will enable its partners to only pay the company if users actually click through and view the content they’re promoting. In that way, Pinterest’s ads aren’t that different from conversion-based links that might appear alongside Google’s search results, or performance-based display ads sold on a cost per click basis.”
This more cost effective system could prove enticing to small businesses with limited advertising budgets, and will potentially open up a broad customer base for Pinterest. However, one major obstacle which the site is sure to face will be how to incorporate promoted content seamlessly into the existing ecosystem.
“Transparency and testing” seem to be the current M.O. for Pinterest, following the controversy in 2012 surrounding its ‘secret’ affiliate network. “Ever since, Pinterest has been extremely wary about maintaining the trust of its pinners,” says Lauren Orsini at ReadWrite.
Joanne Bradford, head of content and commercial partnerships, understands the importance of telling a brand story in a way that isn’t intrusive or jarring for users: “Partnerships aren’t just, ‘go get ad dollars.’ That’s now how we think about it here… We’re really teaching [brands] how to be their best on Pinterest and connect with consumers in a very authentic way.”