Pinterest has begun alpha testing of a new ad product that allows brands to reach consumers from a more prominent position within the company’s mobile app. The “Premiere Spotlight” ad, as the new format is currently known, gives advertisers access to a premium placement on the search page of the Pinterest app for 24 hours. This allows them to reach out to Pinterest users while using one of the app’s most important features: the ability to search for Pins, inspiration, and ideas.
You can now see the new ad format on the most recent version of the Pinterest mobile app, where Kohl’s is currently promoting women’s spring apparel.
In addition to a short video that plays with text, there is also a button that takes you to Kohl’s website. The site opens in the Pinterest app, not as a separate tab. From there, Pinterest users can browse the retailer’s product suggestions, search for other items, add items to their cart, and checkout — just as they could if they visited Kohl’s website directly.
For years, Pinterest has served advertisers by allowing them to create Pins featuring products or ideas that they pay to promote and target to different audiences. These pins then appear in the Pinterest home feed and in relevant search results. But many Pinterest users don’t open the app to browse the feed, nor are they looking for a specific product. Instead, they go to the search page to type in a more general query. Today, 97% of searches on Pinterest are unbranded, company data shows.
The new format would allow advertisers to bring in these new customers, including those who may not have seen their ad before if they were not in the intended audience.
While the ads are sold in 24-hour blocks, it would be possible for marketers to book the ads one after the other to hold onto the top spot even longer.
As an alpha test, the ad price isn’t shared yet, as it could potentially change between now and a more public launch. Kohl’s will be followed by other pilot testers in various categories, including those interested in promoting a product launch or taking advantage of seasonal moments, as Kohl’s does with its spring fashion trends. There will likely be some curation in terms of what brands and types of creatives are allowed here. All ads also include Pinterest’s max-width video size.
Pinterest confirmed the ad pilot with a statement.
“We’re constantly looking for ways for advertisers to reach the people who come to Pinterest with commercial intent,” said a spokesperson. “As we continue to build a suite of products to improve performance across the entire funnel, we are exploring a new acquisition feature that showcases a brand in a new premium, exclusive placement.”
In recent years, Pinterest has worked to fuel the growing interest in video from both consumers and advertisers. While originally a pinboard website, the company switched to video with the launch of Idea Pins in 2021, which offer creators a more TikTok-like experience. Last year, it enabled marketers to turn their Idea Pins into advertisements. This year, the company pushed further into the short video space with a new agreement with Condé Nast, who will produce 160 exclusive videos for the site from top brands Vogue and Architectural Digest.
During its Q4 earnings call earlier last month, Pinterest noted that it had increased its video content offerings by 30% quarter on quarter, adding that high-quality content would help better engage users, particularly Gen Z.
“Monetization per user should also be driven by our advertising initiatives,” said CEO Bill Ready, who joined Pinterest from Google last year, where he led commercial initiatives. “Pinterest is unique because users come to our platform with an intent, and we are one of the few places people can go from seeking inspiration to fulfilling that intent through action,” Ready added.
However, shares of Pinterest fell after earnings as it missed out on revenue by $877 million versus the expected $886.3 million, and it forecast growth in the low-single digits in the first quarter of 2023.
Despite the revenue issues — which aren’t unique to the company given the economic downturn — Pinterest is seeing more traction with users. It noted that its global monthly active users were up 4% year over year to 450 million and its average revenue per user in North America was up 6%. Generation Z has grown especially fond of the service and was once again Pinterest’s fastest growing demographic in the fourth quarter, also accounting for nearly half of the video content pinned in the quarter.
Video ads may appeal to those younger users better than image Pins, as they are used to being inspired to shop through video elsewhere, including TikTok, Reels, and YouTube.
Pinterest didn’t say when the new ad format would be more widely available.