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Pinterest - Should Marketers Care?

  |  February 21, 2012   |  Comments

What those in the emerging technology and social marketing industry think about the value of Pinterest.

There is another new social property vying for consumer attention by the name of Pinterest. As advertisers, we immediately start salivating when we hear about the user growth (11.7 million users as of January) and consumer engagement. It seems like it's hard to keep track of all the new players, but Pinterest should be hard for any marketing professional to ignore.

If you are one of the few who have not heard of it, there has been a ton of press recently: on TechCrunch, Mashable, and The Wall Street Journal.

Pinterest is a virtual bulletin board or scrapbook, if you will. The technology allows users to pin links and images to boards organized against their likes, lifestyle, and interests. Think of a more advanced approach to social bookmarking, with capabilities above and beyond that of Delicious. Of note, the audience still skews very female (approximately 80 percent).


In an effort to wrap my head around the opportunity, I spoke with some of my agency contacts who focus on emerging technology and social/experiential marketing. What I was trying to understand is what it means for a marketer and if a brand should be focusing their efforts in this space, at this time. Here are some solid quotes that summarized the Pinterest opportunity appropriately:

"I am afraid of Pinterest but in a good way. As a consumer, I am afraid of the time that it would take me to build out my boards. The site has the uncanny ability of being able to kill time faster than Zynga…

The platform is built to allow anyone to create a montage of their digital life. I can build boards on the things that matter to me. I started collecting cars that I would love to have some day. A home theater setup that would be ideal for me and a board highlighting what my daughter has been up to lately and many more. Multiply this by lots of people and you start seeing very interesting pictures develop of consumers' wants and needs.

Consumers are telling brands what they would like to have now or someday. For savvy brands, I think that Pinterest gives them a great opportunity to listen, supply compelling content, and test the reactions. Most brands have something to learn from content on Pinterest." - Micah Nyatsambo, director of emerging technology, Havas Digital

"I think Pinterest is possibly the single most important new platform to emerge in the last 12-18 months because it so obviously has such a direct impact on brands and commerce. The interesting aspect is how brands use it, which is very, very editorial, giving them a creative way of inspiring consumers.

Brands need to think laterally, very creatively - it shouldn't be a simple 'here's our products' board but a contextual display of the lifestyle and inspirations that their consumers can use." - Greg James, managing director, Cake Group

From what I have gathered, the untapped listening opportunity is the most appealing aspect to me as a media professional. The insights I can build about who my consumer is, what they are interested in, and even how they feel about specific products in their lives will be unmatched in the short term.

I am sure like Twitter and Facebook before it, Pinterest will look to monetize through advertising. My personal hope is that it will not be in a way that demeans the current quality and ingenuity of the platform. The true opportunity will be in the marketer's ability to provide meaningful content that represents the attributes of their brand and culture - in an unobtrusive manner. Some will already be doing this naturally (without knowing it), while others will try to do so without flushing out the true essence of "who they are," "who consumers think they," "who they want to be," and "what consumers want them to be." My recommendation would be to listen first and enter second.

Aside from very relevant retailers and communities (fashion, crafts), I think the prospect of Pinterest satisfying a direct sales or business goal immediately will be unlikely. The true opportunity is brand presence and the ever-increasing opportunity for consumers to tell you what they want.

So back to my original question: should I care? I think so, but I would love your thoughts too.



Jessica Richards

As an account director for Media Contacts in New York, the interactive division of Havas Digital, Jessica is responsible for strategy development and media plan execution across a variety of clients and industries. Jessica has a wide range of digital experience, managing both brand initiatives and aggressive acquisition efforts. Her knowledge extends across many facets of digital marketing from traditional media and mobile to channel planning and social execution.

Prior to Media Contacts, Jessica was at One to One interactive in Boston, managing the B2C and B2B media campaigns for several clients. Jessica's work has won several industry awards for best use of sponsorship, mobile, and display strategy.

Jessica's career expertise started at Mullen, where she was a media planner on a broad range of traditional media.

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