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Pinterest?s mobile strategy still needs work

Pinterest is ramping up its mobile strategy with new applications for Android, iPhone and iPad devices. However, the content sharing site still has some work to do to create a truly compelling mobile experience for users.

The Android and iPad apps are a first for Pinterest while the previously released iPhone app has been revamped. Initial reaction to the iPad from users is weak while the Android app appears to be getting a better reception.

?Unfortunately, users of the new iPad app aren?t responding very positively,? said Deborah Hanamura, director of marketing at Metia, Seattle, WA . ?Just one day after launching this new version, it?s received 925 ratings and we?re seeing an average rating of 2.5 stars in the iTunes app store.

?This suggests that Pinterest still has quite a bit of work to do to make the app more user-friendly and to give a compelling reason to download a special app for the iPad when the Web version of the site works pretty well,? she said.

?It?s faring better in the Android app store, where it has 2500 reviews and is averaging 4.5 stars. Users are indicating that there are some issues with device compatibility - these hiccups may just send users back to the Web version of the site.?

Mobile a natural extension
Pinterest has quickly gained traction with consumers by aggregating content from a variety of sources to show users what others are looking at. Pinterest lets users find and share their favorite pictures from the Web and pin them to digital boards.

A recent study from comScore found that Pinterest is the fastest-growing social media site with a year-over-year growth of more than 4,377 percent.

While the new apps enable users to discover and pin home décor, fashions, recipes and other items while they are on the go, they do not appear to offer any features or functionality that makes the effort to download really pay off.

?Mobile devices, and especially tablets, are a natural extension of Pinterest?s desktop platform, and have played a large role in their success thus far,? Ms. Hanamura said.

?We can safely assume that Pinterest has a strong mobile application roadmap, and they may be entering the market with the simplest solution while the more complex features are properly vetted and tested,? she said. ?Hopefully this short-term disappointment in app performance will be overcome by brand loyalty and future enhancements.

?Mobile devices tend to be used in more relaxed settings which naturally fits well with Pinterest?s laid-back user experience. While Pinterest has always been available via mobile browsers, the new iPad and Android apps are intended to accelerate mobile growth and better serve mobile users.?

Marketers take notice
According to Pinterest, the new Android app works on both Android phones and tablets. Kindle Fire owners can download Pinterest from the Amazon Appstore for Android.

The iPad app offers new ways to engage with pins, including swiping the screen to resume browsing after viewing a board, or using the embedded browser to see what others are pinning from their favorite sites.

The revamped iPhone app is faster and introduces a two-column layout that lets users see more.

Pinterest has drawn the attention of marketers because of how quickly consumers have embraced it, with brands such as Sephora and Amazon integrating Pinterest into their marketing efforts.

Marketers are now adding Pin It buttons to their digital content similar to how they have added Facebook and Twitter buttons in the past. The Pin It functionality lets consumers share pictures by putting them on digital boards.

For example, Sephora has Pin It buttons on all of its product pages, enabling users to pin any of the 14,000 products from the company?s site.

The apps may be a preliminary step for Pinterest as it looks for ways to monetize its mobile use and give advertisers a way to reach its audience. However, the company may face some challenges here.

?It?s still too early for Pinterest to monetize their offerings via in-app ads,? Ms. Hanamura said. ?While this may be a goal for them, they have some challenges to overcome before their platform is a feasible option for advertisers.

?Critically, they don?t offer any robust data or analytics or a way for advertisers to measure ad impact,? she said. ?Pinterest also needs to address API functionality and Enterprise UX requirements such as multiple user sign-in.

?That said, advertisers are extremely eager for Pinterest to overcome these issues. The market is highly desirable - they have high incomes, long dwell-times, and are socially engaged.?

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