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"A positive corner of the internet": Pinterest talks advertising and why it's different

Tyrone Stewart

This week, inspiration-focused social media platform Pinterest will host its first-ever advertiser summit, delivering six (slightly) different virtual events in six of its key markets around the world, including the UK, US, Germany, France, Australia/New Zealand, and Canada.

The ‘Pinterest Presents’ summit comes on the back of a very eventful – and successful – couple of years for the image-sharing services.

In 2019, it went public with an IPO pricing the company at $19 a share – a price which has grown to almost $81 a share (at time of writing). Just over a year ago, the company announced that its revenues topped $1bn for a full year for the first time, bringing in $1.14bn across 2019. And, between then and now, it has seen its global monthly active users increase from 335m to 459m, as it benefitted from the number of people stuck at home due to the pandemic.

“We’ve actually reached all-time highs for engagement globally over the past year. It’s been a hard year for everyone as we’ve navigated through uncertain time,” says Visha Naul, Director of Business Marketing, Europe at Pinterest. “Pinterest is a positive corner of the internet, where people find inspiration to create a life they love – even during hard times. Now more than ever consumers are looking for a positive place on the Internet to make these inspired decisions and find answers to the challenges that we are all facing in day-to-day life.”

Pinterest has created this “positive corner” by entirely differentiating itself from more ‘traditional’ social media platforms, choosing to focus on ideas and inspiration rather than actual ‘socialising’.

It views itself as being a “personal media rather than social media”, providing a platform where users can focus on themselves and visualise their futures, according to Naul.

“We define Pinterest as a visual inspiration platform that more than 450m people actively use around the world each month to find ideas for their life including fashion and beauty, dinner recipes, home and style inspiration, but also categories that might surprise you, like auto and entertainment,” Naul explains. “Pinterest works by people saving Pins (visual bookmarks) to boards they have created that link to web and retail sites. Users save these ideas from websites or straight from Pinterest when they discover ideas saved by those they follow, or through search and recommendations.

“Pinterest has always been a positive place where people can be themselves and be inspired by new things. We’re deliberate about engineering positive, inspiring environments for consumers and brands through our proactive policies. People come to Pinterest to plan - they’re coming to look for new ideas and are actively considering what to do or buy next.”

This approach, and the way the platform works in general, creates a golden opportunity for advertisers to reach consumers when they are actually interested in potentially investing in something new.

According to Pinterest, 84 per cent of its weekly users visit the platform when they are considering purchasing products and services but are undecided, and 97 per cent of the top searches are non-branded, leaving the door open for these consumers to be reached.

“This mindset enables brands to connect with their ideal audiences. The natural progression of a Pinner’s discovery journey – from inspiration, to planning, to action – takes them down the full purchasing funnel, and businesses can provide value every step of the way,” says Naul.

“Consumers are savvy. When ads appear on platforms that are set up for reading the news, or interacting with friends, it feels like an interruption, and not what you need or want in those environments. You do need ads, information and inspiration however when making decisions for your life. Ads have a natural home on Pinterest, adding value to the user experience,” Naul continues.

“Marketers are really looking for new and efficient ways to move people down the funnel as everyone competes for attention on digital screens, and shoppable moments are ubiquitous than ever before. Pinterest is grounded in the future, so we get an earlier indication of where consumers are headed, what they’re planning to do, and buy, and can help brands and agencies predict what is to come for their category and show up in a relevant way.”

So, in order to showcase exactly what the platform has to offer, Pinterest has decided to host the Pinterest Presents global advertiser summit on Wednesday 3 March.

In each market, the event will feature a slightly different roster of speakers – specific to that individual market – and will take place at different times across the day (because time zones).

In the UK, the event will be hosted by comedian and TV personality Katherine Ryan and have sessions featuring voices including Tilting the Lens Founder Sinéad Burke, journalist and broadcaster Elizabeth Day, WPP UK Country Manager and GroupM CEO Karen Blackett, Social Chain Founder Steven Bartlett, and Trouva Founder Alex Loizou.

There will also be Pinterest speakers including Co-founder and CEO Ben Silbermann, CMO Andréa Mallard, Head of Content and Creator Partnerships Aya Kanai, and UK & Ireland Country Manager Milka Kramer.

At the time of writing, one special guest has been announced in the form of model and TV personality Chrissy Teigen. A second special guest will be announced tomorrow (2 March).

The French and German markets will, like the UK, benefit from being hosted by TV personalities as well. The French event will be fronted by Anaïs Grangerac and the German event by Katrin Bauerfeind.

“With most of us still working from home, it’s more important than ever to maintain a connection with our brand partners, and also we felt it was the perfect time to put on a truly special event to really engage and excite the industry, and bring everyone together – albeit virtually,” says Naul.

“Pinterest Presents is our first ever global advertiser summit. Audiences will be able to tune in on 3 March for sessions in the UK, US, Germany, France, Australia, and Canada. We’re excited to welcome advertisers, agencies, creatives and marketers who are either already advertising on Pinterest or are interested in learning more about how they can uniquely reach audiences on the platform,” she continues.

“We’ve designed Pinterest Presents as a way to replicate the buzz and excitement of an in-person experience virtually. We’ve approached it more like a content-rich talk-show rather than a traditional conference.”

For advertisers, the event will introduce ad updates and a new Pinterest audience study, while showing how marketers can capitalise on and engage with the platform's audience of over 450m monthly users.

“Pinterest Presents is a unique opportunity for marketers to have a first-hand view of how Pinterest differentiates itself and prove why advertising on the platform is essential to a brand’s media mix. Through our first ever global advertising summit, we’re ready to define our proposition, our audience, and our commitment to the industry,” concludes Naul.