Pinterest may prove to be one of the few social networking websites where individuals primarily build relationships with each other through brands. This not only deserves remark in terms of referral traffic for businesses but re-imagines social advertising.
Traditionally social advertising is formed by Ad Agencies pertaining social information on their users (Microsoft, Google, Yahoo and Facebook are good at this) and then providing them with Ads which fit their social contexts. We see this on Facebook all the time. To prove my point I have taken a screen capture of the adverts which currently show on my Facebook sidebar.
They probably targeted on:
- Pot Noodle: Noticing that I was between a certain age range and a student.
- PaddyPower: Likely used my location in Cheltenham on the grounds of the approaching Racing Week.
- Windows Phone UK: I used to work at Microsoft; I’ve mentioned Microsoft and have listed technology as an interest. Easy targeting.
My observation is that Pinterest is a new form of social advertising. Instead of complicated algorithms, heavy budget costs and targeting using social parameters – users are advertising to each other. It may even be unintentional and the system comes across as a superior version of Facebook friends recommending pages to each other.
Just look at the screen capture of the main Pinterest home page:
At first glance it could be easy to consider that each pinned image does not seem like a brand. However each image pinned from a website still maintains a link to that website. The best example of the phenomenon is the online clothing business Asos.
A quick search for Asos on Pinterest reveals dozens of images shared between users.
Each image is pinned from a particular section of Asos’ website. So Pinterest’s social advertising system begins like this:
- Girl views Asos website and finds dress she likes or has purchased.
- Girl pins a picture of clothing from the page to a relevant Pinterest board.
- Followers of the girl on Pinterest notice the dress and may ‘re-pin’ the image to their board, like and comment on the image. Comments may include advice or praise.
- Any girls who see the image on Pinterest only have to click on the dress to be taken directly to the purchase page.
Simple! This is social advertising. Recommendations have always existed on social networks but Pinterest performs differently.
Any visits from Pinterest can easily be tracked using Google Analytics. Such tracking provides the public relations industry in tracking direct sales and at a cost lower than online advertising.