"We're really bullish on Pinterest as a channel," says James Gross, co-founder of the content marketing platform Percolate, one of seven companies provided early access to data on more than 750 million boards with more than 30 billion pins.
"Brands are getting much more used to using social platforms to tell their visual story. So I'm seeing a lot of brands actually starting to use Pinterest as a brand channel as much as an ecommerce channel. I think it always made a ton of sense for ecommerce but given its size and its scale and the engagement they can show on mobile it's got a good argument for really being a great, strong brand marketing channel," Gross says.
Big Brands Are Eager to Pin
Gross calls Pinterest a "wonderful awareness channel" with a user base that heavily influences household purchase decisions. Given the demographics and visual nature of the platform, Percolate has seen a lot of demand from its large consumer-packaged goods clients like Anheuser-Busch InBev, Unilver and General Mills, he adds.
"Brands love to tell stories visually, TV taught us this. Making that leap to Pinterest is a lot easier than having to make the leap to something else," says Gross. "The key is how do make this data available and how do you map it back to the original intent of the brand."
The co-founder and CEO of Curalate, another ad tech firm with early access to Pinterest's data, says there's been a societal shift toward more visual communication. "I think there's something much more emotional about an image," says Apu Gupta, pointing to more "long-term anthropological underpinnings that we don't fully understand."
Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and others have all been pulled into this strong undercurrent toward a much more visual and inherent form of communication. "This isn't about Pinterest, it's about pictures ... and it's been happening across the Web since it first started," Gupta says.
"Every social media analytics tool that's ever been invented, the Web itself was invented based on the assumption that there will be text," he says. Curalate helps brands overcome that problem by scanning at least 200 million images a day and fingerprinting them so companies can keep tabs on their visual content once it leaves their domain.
Not a Zero-Sum Game
Pinterest is also addressing this through a new feature called " Guided Search," which groups related pins into descriptive guides to help users sift through the content more easily and effectively.
As Pinterest continues down the path to revenue, it will probably encounter some of the same growing pains that Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter all faced at one point or another. But Percolate's Gross says it's important to remember that social media is not a zero-sum game.
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