Digital MarketingSearch MarketingPinspiration for back to school shopping: Q+A with IKEA’s Kendra Ferguson

Pinspiration for back to school shopping: Q+A with IKEA's Kendra Ferguson

Pinterest was once part of IKEA's social strategy, but now the brand considers it to be more aligned with search and discovery. IKEA ran a successful Pinterest campaign targeting college students last summer and we spoke about it with Kendra Ferguson, IKEA North America's Media Project Manager.

IKEA is a natural fit for Pinterest, where home decor is one of the most popular categories. Recognizing its potential early on, IKEA was actually the first brand to launch a search campaign through Pinterest’s self-serve platform.

As Pinterest has evolved into more of a visual search engine, IKEA’s strategy evolved right along with it. Last summer, the brand launched a Pinterest campaign aimed at college students preparing to go back to school.

Using keyword targeting and Promoted Pins, IKEA increased clickthrough rate by 72% while decreasing cost-per-click by 37% year-over-year. We spoke with Kendra Ferguson, IKEA North America’s Media Project Manager, about the campaign, how Pinterest became part of the brand’s search strategy, and how Pinning differs from Googling.

IKEA's Pinterest page

ClickZ: What made you want to be a pioneer on Pinterest?

Kendra Ferguson: People like to think a lot about how they live. When searching on Pinterest, they typically have yet to settle on a brand, so we need to be returned in that early consideration set. The platform aligned closely with our Back-To-College campaign strategy, while allowing synergy between search and social. That prompted us to be a hand-raiser in testing this product.

CZ: How has IKEA’s Pinterest strategy evolved since then?

KF: We’ve really changed our view of Pinterest over the years. We initially lumped it into our overall social media strategy. But as the platform began to talk about itself as a discovery tool, we rethought our position. Unlike the majority of social channels, where shares are a top form of engagement, pinners are developing their own interests. They’re saving inspiration that they want to return to later, either to shop for or spark another idea. When you view Pinterest with that lens, it makes sense to instead pair it with your search and discovery strategy.

Our Pinterest strategy historically focused on Promoted Pins. That allowed for more contextual targeting and surrounded key timeframes or activations. With the Search product launch, we have been able to truly align our paid strategy with the nature of how consumers interact with Pinterest. Our strategy has been evolving toward evergreen support, targeting users who are looking for home decor and furnishing inspiration.

IKEA-dorm room Pinterest

CZ: Can you tell us about your recent dorm room decor campaign?

KF: We targeted users with the most relevant inspirational content, based on intent indicated via their search queries, which was ideal for students looking to furnish their spaces. In addition, we wanted to be more integrated across the way media is purchased. This campaign allowed the team to tap into a biddable, self-serve and keyword-based buy that leveraged our media agency Wavemaker’s search expertise on a social platform.

We used Promoted Pins targeted to keywords such as “dorm ideas,” “college ideas,” and “dorm room organization.” That way, products appeared when people searched for ideas relating to setting up and decorating their dorms. The ads mixed lifestyle imagery and product shots. One Promoted Pin featured “the sweeter side of dorm life” with a photo of a rolling shelving unit perfect for storing snacks. Another, “playful pastels,” featured fun decor items in trendy colors like turquoise and millennial pink.

IKEA-playful pastels

CZ: You increased CTR by 72%. How did you ensure the campaign would resonated so much with students?

KF: Being able to collaborate and leverage both search and social expertise drove the strong lift. Understanding historically top-performing terms from search campaigns on Google and Bing, and leaning into social consumer behavior during this Back-to-College timeframe, was key to crafting a strong targeting strategy. Combining that with Kenshoo’s technology, allowing for robust and granular optimizations, was key to drive such strong resonance with students.

CZ: Did any insights from the campaign surprise you?

KF: I wouldn’t say that we were surprised, but a key insight we derived was that user searches on Pinterest performed better with broader and top-funnel category terms. This is vastly different from traditional search campaigns, where performance is strongest when users are searching more specifically and in the lower funnel, such as searching for specific types of furniture or for the IKEA brand.

This speaks to how consumers view and interact differently with various platforms. Users go to a Google or Bing to answer a specific question or locate something in particular. Users on Pinterest have yet to align on what they want and are seeking more inspiration. With the success of this campaign, we’re looking to provide Pinterest users with an even more relevant and custom experience.

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