As Pinterest Goes Public, Hopes Are High for Its Commerce and Ad Capabilities

As Pinterest’s stock ticker “PINS” goes live today for its initial public offering (the second largest of 2019), the social media platform will enter a new phase of scrutiny and expectations. (The company is opening at $19 a share, giving it a $12.7 billion valuation.)

“Given that Instagram has far more daily active users than Pinterest, it is more important than ever for Pinterest to get its commerce right to stay relevant and compete for marketing dollars,” said Tierney Wilson, managing director of the agency and consultancy firm January Digital, which works with global fashion brands DKNY, DVF, Oscar de la Renta and MaxMara, among others. Instagram has more than a billion monthly active users, while Pinterest’s monthly audience is more than 265 million.

While the audience differences are notable, Pinterest still has an edge when it comes to commerce.

According to a new study by Nosto Fashion Data, the photo pinning platform delivers the highest average order values from mobile devices for large fashion retailers compared with Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat, a data point that marketing strategists are taking note of.

“Pinterest enhanced its algorithm to better find qualified users and optimize to conversion, and developed more robust ad formats — Pinterest Shopping ads using brand product feeds — and targeting capabilities. We incorporate Pinterest into our clients media plans at both the awareness, acquisition and retention phases,” said Wilson. “We definitely see Pinterest becoming a more important platform over the next 12 to 18 months as long as they continue to further refine their algorithm to make it smarter and more effective, continue to develop and roll out more robust ad formats, and focus on creating a seamless checkout experience for brands and users alike.”

While the tool comes in third after Instagram and Facebook in Aldo’s marketing efforts, Kate Green, senior director of global communications at Aldo, said the brand has had a concerted effort in the last year and a half to up its game on the platform. “We have taken a deep dive into our analytics as well as best practices to completely revise our content strategy to optimize our use of the channel, and ultimately serve up what users are looking for,” she explained.

For Aldo, the platform has certainly been a brand discovery tool and now also an e-commerce driver. “We see its power as a hyper-visual search tool, differentiating it from other platforms,” Green said. “Users have a much higher purchase intent on Pinterest than other channels — for us, this means the opportunity to monetize via the platform is much higher.”

Green added that the platform has boosted Aldo’s SEO efforts as well. “When used strategically, it can be a major SEO driver that helps contribute to our e-commerce traffic.”

With data security and misinformation issues engulfing Facebook and Google post the 2016 presidential election, Pinterest has also emerged as a force outside the duopoly. “Among our clients we have seen a rise in success using Pinterest,” said Wilson. The company’s revenue in 2018 came from advertising, and jumped 60 percent, year-over-year, to $756 million.

Still, it still falls short of what competitors offer, according to Rachel Mack, cofounder and CEO of the marketing firm Digital Matter. “There is no other platform that provides us the reach, diversity and transparency that Facebook/Instagram has to date.”

At the end of the day, it’s about meeting customers where they are, said Green. In light of the controversies that have cast Facebook in a less favorable light with shoppers, Green said Aldo has adapted its strategies for that site but isn’t moving away from it. “It’s been so important to strategize and use each individual social channel based on its intended purpose as well as its unique algorithm,” she said.

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