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Wendy?s, Suave elevate visual storytelling on mobile with animated Pinterest ads

A handful of big brands such as Gap, L?Oreal, Walgreens, Suave and Target are testing a unique take on visual storytelling via a new ad unit from Pinterest that seeks to make the experience less disruptive by giving users more control. 

A partnership with Visa points to a commerce angle as well, with Virgin America and Gymboree brand Crazy8 among the first to offer Cinematic Pins with Visa Checkout. The new Cinematic Pin is part of a suite of new services designed to make it easier for brands big and small to reach Pinterest users, 80 percent of who are on a mobile device. 

?This could be huge for mobile marketers,? said Sean Cullen, executive vice president of product and technology at Fluent.

?I personally find the scrolling to be delightful and reminiscent of the fun-to-play-with animations originally introduced with the iPhone,? he said. 

?Cinematic Pins are unique enough that users will notice them at first. Unlike a lot of alternative ad units, this really does feel like it?s tailored perfectly for mobile and Pinterest?s audience.?

User control
The new Cinematic Pin is an animated Promoted Pin that only moves when a user is scrolling and is part of a bigger push into monetization from the social media network.

For example, a Cinematic Pin from Wendy?s shows a basket filling with strawberries as the screen scrolls up and down, promoting the chain?s Strawberry Fields Chicken Salad. 

In another example, a woman is seen shaking out her hair in a Cinematic Post from Suave about a three-step trick for voluminous, bouncy hair. 


The image in the ad format moves when a user scrolls and stops moving when the user stops scrolling. Users can also tap on the pin to make it larger and watch the full clip. 

?In-app, the new cinematic ads look beautiful - largely a function of Pinterest's great design - and totally in the user's control, so all of a sudden, unlike embedded video that just immediately starts playing, the user has the illusion of controlling the video experience,? said David McIninch vice president of marketing at Acquisio

?These are way more engaging than static ads, now - which you never would notice, unless they were viewed side-by side, so advertisers will need to think twice about how much they are willing to pay for space,? he said. 

By putting control in the user?s hands, Pinterest hopes to create a less-disruptive experience than auto-play videos and some other ad units found on mobile. 

Cinematic Pins will go live this summer. Additional launch partners include Unilever, Nestle and Wendy?s. 

Visual storytelling
Pinterest has had a strong relationship with marketers from the beginning given its focus on inspiration and curation for everything from recipes and fashion to home décor and gardening ideas. 

The need for Cinematic Pins is a reflection of the strong growth for video on mobile as well as the demand for visual storytelling strategies on mobile that provide entertainment. There has been a strong focus on telling a story on mobile visually, as reflected in the growth in mobile video, emojis and selfie-driven campaign. 

?More than ever, consumers are driving a greater desire to be entertained,? said Toni Box, social media director at PM Digital. ?Social media, after all, is about storytelling. 

?As long as marketers are carefully tailoring the content to appropriate audiences, and are therefore telling the right stories to the right people, Cinematic Pins should be very popular among Pinterest users,? she said. 

The motion ads could be a great way for marketers to cut through the clutter and more quickly grab the attention of users scrolling through their Pinterest feeds. 

?The biggest benefit is that the thumb-stopping motion videos are quick to digest and grab user attention immediately,? Ms. Box said. ?Experts say that the average American?s attention span is only around 8 seconds and growing shorter, making it even more important for videos to engage users within the first 3 seconds, and giving GIFs and looping videos an advantage over other video formats.?

Staying on message
Marketers will need to be careful when creating content for a Cinematic Pin, keeping in mind Pinterest?s core positioning, which is to inspire. 

Accomplishing this in a few seconds could be a challenge for some marketers. 

?Can your story be told in a three-second, animated way?,? Acquisio?s Mr. McIninch said. ?This should be relatively easy for consumer products, but it's the video equivalent of a 50-character tweet: Be diligent about what you want say with such limited time.? 

Marketers should not simply repurpose existing content for the moving ads. 

?The potential pitfall with them, however, is that success requires unique animations and campaigns to really take advantage of what Pinterest has built,? Fluent?s Mr. Cullen said. ?Brands won't be able to repurpose preroll video for these pins.  

?If brands and agencies aren't willing to make the effort, I doubt consumers will notice them too,? he said. 

Pinterest will need to be diligent that its feeds do not get overwhelmed with moving ads, which could be distracting for users and diminish the overall experience. 

Ramping up
The launch of the Cinematic Pin is part of a series of announcement signaling how Pinterest plans to ramp up its monetization efforts. 

The company is also introducing new audience targeting capabilities, enabling marketers to reach pinners based on interests, personas or life stages. 

Pinterest is also rolling out a cost-per-engagement model for Promoted Pins to help marketers track future intent.

Additionally, App Pins will be soon promotable for the first, available to marketers on a cost-per-action basis. 

The company is also offering more services to help marketers create Promoted Pins, including a creative studio called Pin Factory. 

Marketers can also work with several recently announced Marketing Developer Partners for help publishing their content. 

?As always, no matter where brands are advertising, they should keep in mind that users on mobile are looking for quick response-based action,? said Stephanie Leung, social media and public relations manager at adMobix.
 
?Within the few seconds that the animated ad has to capture the user?s attention, the content must target the right audience in order for high engagement,? she said. 

?Brands must also present the ad in a way that will let the user know how they will benefit from the ad in order for them to watch the full length video and completing the end-action on the brand?s landing page.?

Final Take
Chantal Tode is senior editor on Mobile Marketer, New York