Last year, Pinterest introduced native video ads onto the visual social platform that has long been a place where people are more receptive to brands, thanks to the very nature of how they use it.
President Tim Kendall says that because Pinterest is a place where people plan things, it makes us more receptive to brand messages. “Because it’s a platform based around discovery, people are in an open mindset,” he says. “They’re here with the intention of finding something new. The vast majority of content on Pinterest comes from businesses, brands, and partners. There isn’t a user-generated component on the platform, so people aren’t here to learn about what they’re friends are doing. They’re there to plan their lives. And people plan their lives through content that brands produce.”
Pinterest didn’t actually introduce a revenue model until 2014, and by 2015 marketers reportedly spent $100 million on advertising, quintupling the company’s ad sales. In October, CEO Ben Silbermann confirmed to The Wall Street Journal that Pinterest’s 2016 revenue would land around $300 million, and that its monthly unique user base had jumped to 150 million globally.
Since its renewed focus on video kicked into high gear last year, Pinterest has learned a few things about how its users interact and engage with brand video. Kendall says they’ve distilled them down to three best practices.
“One is to prioritize quality over length,” says Kendall. “Two is to optimize for actions, not views. And three is that the best brand content for our users is storytelling and how-to.”
According to Kendall, the vast majority of content on Pinterest is from brands and companies. And while other social platforms are forced to shoehorn brand content around news stories or photos of your family, Pinterest doesn’t have to do that. As a result, Kendall says Pinterest’s hide rates on brand content and paid brand content are 90% lower than the industry average, primarily because people are open to checking it out. It’s not interrupting another experience.
As Bryan Wiener, executive chairman of digital ad firm 360i, told WSJ in January, “There is an inherent helpfulness that a marketer can bring to consumers on Pinterest.”
But it has to relevant and helpful. Because people are on Pinterest to get ideas, the best brand content is both engaging and informative. Kendall points to a brand like Peloton, the home exercise bike. There’s a how-to component to its advertising, showing the brass tacks of how it works, but there’s also a whole story around the mom who wakes up early and get a great workout before breakfast with her husband and kids.
“Video is exploding on your phone, but a lot of it isn’t necessarily helping you make your day to day, or life overall better,” says Kendall. “I think it’s zero-calorie consumption. And what I’m excited about is to actually use video to help people design their lives to be better. I know that’s optimistic, but we do think we’re giving people a bit of a counter-weight to all the things they spend time with on their phone. When Pinterest works well, people are inspired to try new things, and we think they make better choices.”