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Pinterest ups focus on brand as is looks to drive user growth and retention

Pinterest Body NeutralityPinterest has its sights firmly set on increasing “comprehension” of its platform’s abilities as it looks to drive reappraisal and get new users to engage with the brand.

One way it is looking to do that is through its ‘It’s Possible’ campaign, which is as much an explainer of the platform as it is a brand push. The latest iteration of the campaign, which first launched in July, encompasses experiential, social and partnerships to spread that information to new and lapsed users.

The interest-led platform, on which its userbase of ‘Pinners’ can collate and shop around their hobbies and projects, had a boom in use during the pandemic. However, that growth in users prompted Pinterest to reappraise how its users discover and use the platform – and to pivot its marketing strategy as a result.

Pinterest’s director of marketing Louise Richardson tells Marketing Week the platform did no brand marketing until around four years ago: “We will be doing more at the upper end of the brand, rather than in that… comprehension-based middle layer. We’d never done brand marketing until three or four years ago, with the arrival of [global chief marketing and communications officer] Andréa Mallard in the US. So as we got those new users we started looking at comprehension a little bit more.”

To that end, the It’s Possible campaign highlights a number of Pinterest’s features that new or intermittent users might not necessarily know are available on the platform.

Richardson acknowledges that despite “high penetration” in its existing markets, that understanding is not universal among its users. That in turn is diminishing the ability of Pinterest to bring people back day after day, a vital stat for advertising-based platforms.

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Richardson says: “Even among Pinterest users, overall comprehension of what the platform can do, is still lower than we’d like. Obviously, we are looking to drive monthly active users as well with this campaign… a mix of resurrected and new users.”

Pinterest’s CMO: Marketers should not change their ratio of spend when budgets are cut

The company is therefore focusing on the UK and the US with the campaign, territories in which it has identified an opportunity to bring users back onto the platform. In the UK, Pinterest reports having 17 million monthly users, who save a combined 10 million ideas every day.

Considering the company’s stated aim to make everything on the platform shoppable, that presents a big opportunity, provided users keep coming back: 96% of top searches on Pinterest are unbranded, but shoppers on Pinterest outspend other platforms by twice the amount, per its own stats.

In order to do that Pinterest wants to highlight tech and tools that can fit into or enhance a user’s existing interests, from shared ‘boards’ that multiple Pinners can use together or in-app tools like the hair texture search function.

Noting that Pinterest has been “very clear about the Pandora’s Box” of machine learning-enabled tools on the platform, Richardson does note that tools that enable skin tone range-based searches are both positive for users and for user retention. She also highlights tools like its body shape tool launched this month as contributing to that effort.

Part of the campaign is based around educating users about its role as an intermediary between digital and physical experiences. Pinterest has developed an experiential aspect of the campaign designed to highlight that bridge. ‘Possibility Place’ in Covent Garden allows visitors to interact with Pinterest creators in real life by getting tattoos, lessons in upcycling and across other key interests on the platform. It is open to the public on Friday 29 and Saturday 30 September.

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Pinterest: Marketers think reach is the only thing that matters

The brand campaign will be extended beyond the experiential, as part of an evolution in how Pinterest thinks about its own marketing. Richardson states: “We have been a performance-driven business for so long, very successfully... We [are] making a case for the efficacy of brand.” She says marketing at Pinterest is not a cost centre but a revenue driver, and that “this is the next step – brand advertising plus experiential plus additional channels that we’re investing in over the next calendar year.”

She notes that the plan is to replicate some of the partnerships Pinterest has pursued in the US in the UK. One of the most important of those partnerships was its April announcement of a tie-up with Amazon Ads, which is in service of streamlining its ecommerce offering.

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