05.16.19

3 Milestones in Pinterest’s Social Commerce Quest

If we zoom out on the battle for social commerce supremacy, we see a battlefield full of advertising technology aimed at the hearts of retailers. As social commerce referrals grow, expect that battle to continue. If we narrow the focus, something else becomes clear: Pinterest may be winning the war.

Pinterest is a visual discovery engine that 250 million people use when considering what to buy or do next. It’s this level of precise intent that Pinterest uses to create its winning ways and commerce-centric features. To get Pinners to convert, however, Pinterest will need to up its game and offer more robust commerce tools that get both users and advertisers excited. Here are three reasons we’re excited.

Pinterest’s Public Filings Have Solidified its Position on Social Commerce

If there’s any doubt about Pinterest’s quest for social commerce dominance, look no further than its IPO and earnings reports filings.

Among financial jargon and company outlook in its IPO, Pinterest reiterated the fact that it’s not like the rest—it even distances itself by defining itself as a “discovery channel” rather than a social network. This isn’t new. Neither is the behavior of Pinners, who continue to demonstrate purchase intent. Officially, the company says, “Pinterest is not a pure media channel, nor is it a pure utility. It is a media-rich utility that satisfies both emotional and functional needs by solving a widespread consumer problem that is unaddressed by many other platforms. We call it discovery.”

While there will be ups and downs for any public company, advertisers should read between the lines: Pinterest is dedicated to commerce, and with its position etched in public stone, expect it to stick to that gameplan.

Fresh Advertising Capabilities are Coming—Beyond the Buy Button

We know that Pinterest is betting on social commerce; however, long-term success relies on attracting advertisers with features beyond the buy button (now called Rich Pins).

How will Pinterest build the bridge between the online world and commerce? Time will tell, but the company is already paving the way for advertising features and capabilities that advertisers should get excited about.

Take Promoted Video, for example. Pinterest took something it knew Pinners and advertisers liked—67% of Pinterest video viewers say that Pinterest videos inspire them to take action—and made it better by introducing Promoted Video at max. width. While this isn’t the most groundbreaking update, it does give advertisers more room to showcase their products, spanning across Pinterest’s iconic two-column grid while giving users a better experience.

If we look further into Pinterest’s advertising world, the enhancements don’t stop there. Pinterest also introduced Catalogs and Shopping Ads, both of which open the door for advertisers to turn product catalogs into visual and actionable ads.

Beyond updates to paid tactics, Pinterest has also shown a commitment to Pinners, releasing new features, like personalized recommendations, browsable sections of in-stock products, and shopping search.

Pinterest is Infusing Social Commerce Expertise

Winning the social commerce battle isn’t always connected to advertising technology. Moves to key personnel can have an equally powerful impact. Jeremy King, Walmart’s former CTO, hopes his level of commerce knowledge will be the catalyst to a revolving door of opportunity and innovation centered around social commerce.

Similar to its IPO filing, this doesn’t lend immediate light to tangibility, but for retailers, it’s a promising sign. According to Pinterest’s Founder and CEO, Ben Silbermann, “Not only is Jeremy a respected engineering leader but from the moment we met him, we knew his values around putting the customer first were aligned with our focus on Pinners. As we build products to inspire people to create a life they love, Jeremy’s technical experience and leadership are a perfect combination to build a visual discovery engine for all.”

Sometimes, appointing a new general is the best way to win the battle. So, if he does what he’s done in the past, this move will likely pay dividends as Pinterest fights for the attention (and dollars) of advertisers.

With Pinterest going public, it’s pushing into the online shopping portal and trying to win one battle while others spread their resources across many. For Pinterest, its gameplan revolves around social commerce. For advertisers, it’d be wise to follow suit.


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