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Pinterest Promoted Pins: What’s the Opportunity for Retailers?

Pinterest is the quiet younger sibling of the social media world. Less news-worthy than Twitter, less popular than Facebook, it seems to roll silently on without ever gaining much publicity, especially for retailers looking for a social media advertising platform. Appearances can be deceptive though. While it may not garner the spotlight that other platforms do, it’s still a very useful channel for retailers, allowing them to put strong, appealing visuals of their products and collate them in easy-to-navigate, and critically, user-friendly curated groups. With some 1.6bn items being pinned across the last year in the UK alone, it’s clear that users are engaged.

Since its launch in 2010, Pinterest has been seeking ways to monetise and deliver a better experience to its strong base of both consumers and businesses. Rich Pins arrived in 2013, allowing brands to include additional information about an app, movie, recipe, article, product, or place to their Pins in an effort to help push users to click through, and it garnered some success. Now, however, with the launch of Promoted Pins Pinterest has generated a clear social media advertising unit that can expand reach, increase awareness, and ultimately help convert interest into sales.

The concept is very simple: businesses pay for a Promoted Pin and that Pin is seen by a wider group of people than it would if it were pushed out organically. Promoted Pins will not be automatically placed on users’ Homefeeds though. Instead, businesses can select certain categories they deem relevant and desirable for the pin, and it will appear on the Homefeeds of users that satisfy certain relevance-based metrics. This is to ensure good user experience and stronger ROI for businesses, and likely to revolve around clicks and engagement on similar Pins within that category.

This metric is key to Promoted Pins’ potential. The immediate, visual nature of a Pin already ensures that users are likely to be more engaged than they are by, for example, a text-based ad or 30 second YouTube pre-roll, and by carefully ensuring relevance, there’s an element of curation, even personalisation, to these ads. Pinterest will only show a Promoted Pin if it deems it relevant, just as Amazon will only recommend a product if it deems it relevant. On a platform such as Pinterest, where curation is king, such an approach is essentially what users sign up for.

As with all social media advertising, the key to making Pinterest’s Promoted Pins work for you is research. Understand your audience: work out the copy, imagery, and topics they respond to. Make sure you’re communicating in a tone of voice that works for you, that the imagery is striking and attention-grabbing, and that you’re targeting the kind of topics that your chosen audiences focus on. Then analyse, gather insight, and loop back to the start of the research process so you can learn from your Promoted Pins, both for organic pins and paid media going forwards.

Pinterest as a social media advertising platform is still relatively new in the UK, but has been in force in the United States since the start of 2015, with some strong results. As we move into 2016, Pinterest’s focus on Paid Media is only likely to grow stronger, and continue to deliver impressive returns. Businesses who have already found some joy on the platform would be wise to explore the Promoted Pins functionality while it’s still in its early days. There’s a real opportunity to pioneer on what is rapidly becoming one of the most innovative, interesting, and creative of all the social platforms.

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