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Pinterest?s new ad-targeting tools attract CPG, retail brands

Pinterest?s recent move to open its ad platform to all brands has the potential to significantly disrupt budgets this year, especially among marketers seeking to test direct response advertisements and target forward-looking mobile users.

The social network?s new advertising management tools have expanded their reach beyond Pinterest?s primary brand partners, enabling smaller and mid-size companies to bulk-edit their campaigns and use customer database targeting, among other features. Although Pinterest has generally been overshadowed by social behemoths such as Instagram and Facebook, the channel does offer lucrative revenue potential for brands that engage in long-term marketing strategies that will appeal to consumers planning for future home redesigns, parties or wardrobe shopping sprees.

?Pinterest is becoming a staple in any brand?s marketing mix,? said Jamie Tedford, founder and CEO of Brand Networks. ?We witnessed a 215 percent increase in the number of Brand Networks customers advertising on the platform from Q3 to Q4 of last year.

?Mobile in particular presents an interesting opportunity for brands,? he said. ?More people are shopping on mobile devices, and Pinterest is a discovery platform with a design that plays well to mobile-first audiences?a beautiful catalog of photos that?s simple and easy to scroll through.

?We anticipate a lot of brands will test mobile, direct response advertisements on Pinterest to capture this audience of mobile shoppers.?

Tapping into purchase intent
While Pinterest ads may not offer the immediacy of buy now buttons, as seen on Instagram or Facebook, they do have more than enough potential to sway consumers? interest during their journeys through the purchasing funnel.

Per Mr. Tedford, Brand Networks expects Pinterest to capture a large percentage of business in the near future, most notably among CPG and retail marketers.

The new ad manager platform lets companies increase the number of interests they can target against and narrow down keywords in addition to specific interests. Therefore, brands will be more apt to catch consumers at various moments during which they may be considering a product.

Previously, companies could purchase ads geared to only 30 broad interest categories, such as food or beauty. Now, they may target their ads to include 420 categories.

The customer database targeting feature also mimics Facebook?s similar service, allowing brands to use customer data to create a profile of ideal targeted users.

The advent of these new solutions may fuel more marketers to increase their ad spend for Pinterest, particularly as they will also be able to glean valuable information on what types of Pins individuals are looking at the most.

?Users already search and save products that resonate and interest them the most, giving advertisers valuable insight into purchase intent,? Mr. Tedford said. ?There?s a powerful opportunity to connect that intent with action by integrating direct response ads that are relevant to a user's interests and preferences, and that guide them directly through the purchase funnel.?

Cross-marketing tactics are also popular among brands who have already tapped into Pinterest?s popularity.

Budweiser spiked brand awareness ahead of the Super Bowl by rolling out sponsored advertisements on Facebook that linked to the company?s official Pinterest account, which featured recipes for party snacks that consumers could make with its beer (see story).

Meanwhile, supermarket chain Publix recently launched on social media platforms Pinterest and Instagram after realizing that its audience was already sharing branded content and has since seen a positive reception (see story).

?Relevance is key on Pinterest,? Mr. Tedford said. ?Brands have the opportunity to distribute strategic, data-driven advertising content based on purchase intent, interests, and keyword searches.

?We?re also really bullish on Pinterest?s new customer database targeting, which allows advertisers to use their email lists to create target audiences. Video is also becoming a more popular ad format across all platforms, and I think we?ll see more brands experimenting with Cinematic Pins and other animated formats.?

Relying on the future
Pinterest is typically best-suited for the slow burn method of marketing strategies: hooking users with enticing imagery or relevant content ? such as recipes ? which will in turn create favorable brand sentiment.

Then, when consumers are in the market for a new type of meal or a new outfit, they can visit their recent Pins and purchase one of those previously-liked items.

The social network claims brands that have spent $1 a day or more in advertising typically experience a 20 percent uptick in clicks on their posts.

Companies attempting to drum up brand awareness or sales prior to a major holiday ? such as Memorial Day weekend ? or a specific cultural event may want to allocate more of their mobile marketing budgets to Promoted Pins. This can help familiarize Pinterest users with their products or services before the brand offers the ultimate purchasing call-to-action during the desired time frame.

?My big takeaway on Pinterest is that it?s a new angle for marketers who want to target users who are future-planning,? said Melina Ex, East Coast managing director at Fetch. ?So rather than expecting direct results immediately, the goal should be to disguise your native content as quality pins that people will save to their boards as part of their larger [remodeling/hobbyist/travel/fashion] plans, to be acted upon at some point in the future.

?Some crazy high percent of users who Pin things end up acting on them at some point down the road. This should inform mobile strategists thinking they?ll be getting another quick-fix DR platform out of Pinterest to set their sights further down the funnel, knowing that over time their brand will start to bake into users? future purchase behavior.?