When word first came out about Pinterest moving into the ad business, the digital marketing geek in me was very excited. Pinterest created an experience users couldn’t find elsewhere. The sheer size of the community and the enablement of product and idea discovery were unmatched.
Enter monetization. Surely Pinterest, the behemoth social sharing and shopping discovery platform, could provide marketers an unrivaled opportunity to get their products in front of the right users when they are actively in the discovery process. If I’m looking for a blue outdoor vest, you better believe I’m going to see what Pinterest has to offer.
The Early Days
It’s been 16 months since Pinterest first started testing Promoted Pins. They launched beta programs for CPM buying and CPC buying in 2014 and, as of January 1, made their CPM program available to all advertisers in the United States. Pinterest has been exceptionally conservative in expanding their ad-buying program. They have good reason to tread slowly – the experience you find on Pinterest is much different than Twitter and Facebook, and the upside is massive. They’re working carefully to integrate native ad units that are beneficial to advertisers and welcoming by their users.
However, you wonder if they’ll get there. They’ve been moving along at such a slow pace, that it almost feels too slow. If you had a chance to participate in their CPC buying beta program, you’ve probably found very little to be excited about. They’re still working to solve some of the most basic of advertiser needs, something they’ve admitted to. You’ll probably be like many direct response and e-commerce advertisers who want stick with the Pinfluencer market for now.
Should Advertisers Invest in Pinterest’s CPC Beta Program?
It’s smart to jump into their CPC beta program, if you’re afforded the opportunity. Keep your expectations low on ad buy capabilities – you’ll get the basics: gender, device, location, language, and basic keyword targeting – and prepare for the eventual expansion of the program. While no timeline is available, Pinterest plans to release new ad formats and more advanced targeting in the coming year.
Challenges aside, you see the potential in Pinterest’s ad platform. It’s why you want it to work. You’ll find plenty of reach in the CPC campaigns you launch and since there are a limited number of advertisers in play, you can cost-effectively test keywords and creative to find what’s going to generate sales consistently for your business. This is important since the creative that works for you on Facebook and Twitter, is not likely to work on Pinterest.
What’s to Come in 2015
At the end of the day, Pinterest has a lot of work to do to provide a compelling experience for large-scale brands and advertisers. Deeper targeting capabilities, real-time data, conversion tracking, and better guidance on competitiveness are just a few. We’ll see what new features Pinterest releases over the course of 2015, and if it’s worthy of the big budgets major retailers can bring. Until then brands will just stick with other paid social media platforms or the Pinfluencer market, and hope Pinterest figures it out.