We hear the buzz about Pinterest ads and we’re telling all you performance marketers to quiet down. Here’s what you need to realize about Pinterest’s latest release on promoted pins.
After the initial announcement last fall, Pinterest’s product manager, Julie Black, has confirmed that the photo sharing platform is moving forward with promoted pins with select brands. The keyword here is “select.”
Joanne Bradford, Head of Partnerships at Pinterest, released the list of brands taking part in the first paid test. Here are the brands within the small group:
- ABC Family
- Banana Republic
- General Mills
- lululemon athletica
- Old Navy
- Walt Disney Parks and Resorts
Unless your brand ranks among these giants, it’s unlikely Pinterest will allow you to advertise on their platform. Here’s why.
Pinterest wants brands to commit to spending between $1 and $2 million on promoted pins and the image platform intends on pricing CPMs between $30 and $40 according to AdAge. We can assume that range is out of most performance marketers budgets.
The iAd approach
“This reminds me of apple iAd, ” says Marc Poirier, SEM expert and founder of Acquisio.
“Apple invested a lot of money and made a lot of noise about the ad network that they created for iOS, iAd, but there were a few problems. For one, they insisted on maintaining control of the look and feel of everything and secondly, the cost of entry was absolutely prohibitive, so if you wanted to test you had to be a really large brand with millions of dollars to spend on digital media.”
It sounds pretty familiar, but what happened with Apple’s iAd strategy? Well, Apple lowered their minimum amount of advertising from close to $1 million to $50, abandoning their premium appeal and introducing self service tools to attract developers.
Pinterest may do something similar in the future, but as it stands right now performance marketers are not invited to the promoted pins party – it’s restricted to VIP only.
Why so expensive, Pinterest?
There’s a big up side to Pinterest’s premium ad strategy. If Pinterest maintains control of what people put on their platform, the way Apple did with iAd initially, they shouldn’t disrupt their audience experience. This is great for users who get ticked off whenever their favorite platform starts releasing advertisements, clogging up their screen with ads they don’t want (and let’s face it, that’s all users). With this strategy Pinterest fans shouldn’t notice any difference between promoted pins and the ones they usually see on their page.
If a company introduces paid advertisement, users may likely be turned off by the ads and leave. Pinterest doesn’t want their loyal pinners to run for the hills, and they don’t want their beautiful organic photos to be replaced with salesy banner ads, so they’re probably right in controlling which brands use promoted pins.
Pinterest is able to set their standards so high because they have something big brands want – a highly concentrated audience of women. The idea of having ads on Pinterest, where you can so accurately target women aged 25-34, is intriguing, so intriguing that the big brands listed above are willing to dish out a million big ones (potentially) to connect with these ladies.
We’ll just have to see how long Pinterest limits promoted pins to premium brands. Right now this seems like the only move the not yet profitable platform can make to generate revenue without sacrificing the integrity of the product.
But is there another option?
“I think the real play for Pinterest is in their data more than how they’re going to sell ads themselves,” says Poirier.
Pinterest is sitting on a goldmine of information concerning their mostly female audience, and selling that data may be just as important as putting up ads in their own environment.
“In other words, explains Acquisio’s founder, “leveraging Pinterest data to target women outside of Pinterest is probably a bigger play for the company. If Pinterest wants to go big into performance marketing it will be with an external network (like Google with AdSense). Or Pinterest could just resell their data for people who want to buy display ads with real time bidding based on Pinterest data.”
Today the news of promoted pins on Pinterest is not so exciting, but the promise of it for a greater audience of advertisers, extending outside of the Pinterest area into other websites, may be worth buzzing about when and if that time comes.