Pinterest is not a social network, and Ben Silbermann agrees with me.
Instead, Pinterest is the only online market place where ads are accepted, even enjoyed. In fact, Pinterest’s promoted pins are the epitome of what native advertising should be – desired.
“Native advertising (n): a form of paid media where the ad experience follows the natural form and function of the user experience in which it was placed.”
Native ads thrive on the notion that seamlessly integrated ad content receives higher engagement, allows the user’s attention to gravitate towards the sponsored content no differently than its organic cohort, and boosts brand sentiment, even if the user doesn’t click through. Pinterest promoted pins are an example of sponsored content that neither detracts nor distracts from the Pinterest experience.
But the visual experience isn’t really what matters …
The true distinction between Pinterest and other social platforms that leverage native advertising falls on the undeniable difference between how Pinners and other social network-ers interact with the platform.
As digital marketers, we’re familiar with the 4 search moments of online consumers: “I want to know”, “I want to go”, “I want to do”, and “I want to buy”. But what if I want to know and buy? Is that two different searches? What would the query look like? We don’t quite have that answer yet … or do we?
We know the effectiveness of advertisements hangs in the balance of the viewer’s mindset. Do I have this person’s attention? Is this person consuming content for themselves? Or are they consuming content for the sake of others? People bought into traditional social media (and by that, I mean before ads came into the sphere) because it was all about your relationship with others. What are my people doing, reading, sharing, experiencing, thinking, etc. It was all about filling the void that humans experience when they lack a stimulating in-person social environment. It wasn’t ever about modern day consumerism or how to buy that new thing I wanted – that’s what Google was for.
But today, the need for monetization has forced social networks to push a consumerism mindset, which unavoidably conflicts with its original basis on relationships. This is exactly why native advertising doesn’t feel that native on platforms like Facebook and Instagram; consumerism was never their core purpose.
And that’s why Pinterest is different.
Pinterest is not a social network. It was never intended to be relational consumption. Yes, you have “followers” and “likes”, but those features aren’t really what it’s all about. Pinterest is about me.
I, and other Pinners like me, love access to new ideas, DIY tutorials, fashion inspirations, recipes, blog content, and yes, even products. Pinners thrive on the visually stimulating and simplistic search right at their fingertips. Pinners are seeking the information, not avoiding it.
Get this – Pinners actually are happy when that cute bathing suit everyone’s been pinning is instantly buyable, instead of being pulled from the abyss where people could never actually purchase what they find. I kid you not, before buyable pins, there were actually entire sites dedicated to “finding that top you saw on Pinterest”.
So who should care?
Companies that make a difference, and products that help.
Pinterest is a content and consumer empowerment platform. Advertisers that leverage their products to answer consumers’ needs are the ones that should be caring about the power of Pinterest’s native advertising.
As a consumer, I like Pinterest ads. They’re helpful, targeted to my searches, and the native integration makes them feel less pushy (even though they may be a bit dangerous for my wallet).
As a young marketer, I’m incredibly excited about Pinterest ads.
To me, Pinterest ads are a new paid search medium to get in front of consumers that are looking for exactly what you’re promoting. Pinterest ads are a way to get consumers to fall in love with your product, be inspired by your story, and conveniently click through to purchase.