Bookmarking site Pinterest has established itself as one of the top social networking sites on the web with some 70 million unique visitors per month, according to comScore. But the company, whose last funding round valued the business at $5 billion, is still in the early days of experimenting with its revenue model, and building out relationships with advertisers and partners. Playing a key role in this area is Pinterest’s Head of Partnerships, Joanne Bradford.
In May Bradford will join us at TechCrunch Disrupt NY to talk about the changes she’s spearheaded at Pinterest, as the company looks to make good on its multi-billion dollar valuation.
Bradford joined the fast-growing social bookmarking site in late 2013, having previously served as President at The San Francisco Chronicle. Prior to that, she was Chief Revenue Officer at Microsoft, Senior Vice President at Yahoo, and Chief Marketing and Revenue Office at Demand Media. Over the years, she’s worked with top brands like American Express, L’Oreal and Unilever.
Her hire by Pinterest signaled the company’s readiness to focus in earnest on generating revenue, and gave her the responsibility of overseeing both commercial and content partnerships globally.
While at Pinterest, Bradford’s focus has been on helping the company develop strategies related to its brand and content partnerships, including what sorts of ad products Pinterest develops and how they should perform.
While Pinterest seems to more easily lend itself towards advertising, given that much of its content includes products people are interested in buying, it still requires a careful balance to not overrun the site with ads that frustrate users. After all, Pinterest’s user base had grown to love the service as way to serendipitously discover content – and for a long time, they had enjoyed an ad-free experience.
Over the past year, however, Pinterest has been steadily expanding its efforts with its “Promoted Pins” ad product under Bradford’s direction. The product was in testing for over half a year before opening to all advertisers this January. The results so far have been promising – the company found that Promoted Pins sometimes even outperformed organic Pins on the site, as many users found the Pins good enough to save to their own boards. Brand advertisers reported seeing around a 30% jump in earned media, and the Pins would often continue to perform well long after a campaign ended.
Pinterest also launched the “Pinstitute,” a program that helps advertisers learn how to leverage Promoted Pins through workshops and seminars.
To date, some of Pinterest’s advertisers have included major brands including ABC Family, Banana Republic, Expedia, GAP, General Mills, Kraft, Lululemon, Nestle, Old Navy, Target, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, and Ziploc, for example, all of whom were among the first to trial the company’s Promoted Pins.
In addition to working with larger brands and organizations, Pinterest has also experimented with “DIY” Promoted Pins aimed at smaller businesses, and has been testing CPC ads in order to go after the long-tail of ad dollars.
As the company gears up for 2015, Bradford will be involved in the next phases of Pinterest’s advertising initiatives, too, which include things like better ad targeting, measurement and the the addition of new ad formats. We’ve already seen at least one test of a new ad format underway, in fact. Earlier this month, Pinterest began trials of animated Pins, for example. It also rolled out tools that let advertisers target Pinterest users more narrowly, expanding beyond the 30 high-level categories to drill down into specific interests, as well as by audience.
There have also been rumors of Pinterest testing a “Buy” button on its service that would allow users to shop the site’s product directly without having to leave Pinterest.
It should be interesting to hear Bradford speak about these initiatives and more, as Pinterest tries to establish a role for itself as a go-to social media platform for advertisers.
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