Business

Pinterest gets serious about ad revenue with new ‘promoted pins’

Pinterest is ready to generate some real revenue with its “promoted pins” service.

The Wall Street Journal reports today that the company will start selling ads, the promoted pins, to marketers in the second quarter of 2014. Joanne Bradford, the recently appointed head of partnerships, said Pinterest will make artful ads that people actually love.

The idea is that Pinterest fans can “pin” ads to their boards, in the same way that an avid magazine reader might paste a slick ad to their bedroom wall. The firm plans to start with a select group of marketing execs, who will pay for these ads, the promoted pins.

These ads can be served on the Web or on mobile: Pinterest claims that about 75 percent of its audience is on mobile.

A Pinterest spokesperson has not responded to a request for comment on the precise timing or costs of the ads.

The $564 million-funded scrapbooking website offers a service for people to “pin” images, videos, and objects to a digital board and share these with friends.

As of February, marketing-analytics company ComScore reported that Pinterest had 48.7 million users globally. Research firm eMarketer reports that 34.9 million people accessed the site at least once each month in 2013, and it claims that traffic could grow close to 13 percent in 2014 to reach 38.8 million. About 30 million of these folk are women, compared to less than 5 million men.

Like many of Silicon Valley’s fastest-growing consumer startups, Pinterest hasn’t focused too much on revenues in order to ensure the product is popular. However, chief executive Ben Silbermann hinted at the tail end of 2013 that he would start experimenting with the business model.

Pinterest first announced its promoted pins service in late October and gave the press a glimpse into what an ad would look like. This service was initially rolled out as a test with a small segment of the market.

“People interact with those pins in a lot of the same ways that they interact with Pinterest in general,” Silbermann told the Wall Street Journal in a recent interview. “They repin things they want to keep for later or they want to share. They have conversations about those objects. It seems there’s an alignment between what people are there to do on Pinterest, which is discover things they care about, and what advertisers’ objectives are, which is to be discovered by people who are interested.”

Pinterest is a prime vehicle for advertising. Unlike other social sharing services like Facebook or Twitter, people explicitly use their boards to save stuff they would like to buy.

Investors peg Pinboard’s value at $3.8 billion even though the company hasn’t generated any revenue yet.

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