As Pinterest announces a new video advert format, its success in mobile will hinge on bringing its communities together

Paul Carolan
It is unsurprising that Pinterest is trying to emulate the success of Google and Facebook, but it is an entirely different platform (Source: Getty)

Pinterest announced the launch of a new promoted video format last week which is click-to-play and mobile only.

It operates differently to the auto-play formats popularised by the likes of Facebook and Twitter, instead offering a glimpse of the video content and encouraging users to click to see the full content. Pinterest’s in-house creative team, The Pin Shop, will be on hand to help brands design for this new video-lite format.

The move follows a summer of earning calls and ad spend figures which indicate mobile video is the future for digital revenue. In April, the Internet Advertising Bureau announced that video spend on mobile in the UK increased by 98 per cent to £353m “due to the increasing numbers of people watching video, TV and film on smartphones”.

Both Google and Facebook’s phenomenal results were similarly attributed to harnessing the power of mobile video for advertising, so it’s unsurprising that Pinterest is aiming to emulate the success of these online advertising behemoths.

Read more: Mobile advertising will allow Google and Facebook to sustain their growth

However, Pinterest is an entirely different platform to Facebook, Snapchat or Twitter. Recent data by Mary Meeker shows that 75 per cent of all the content on the platform comes from businesses, and that 55 per cent of its audience wants to shop for products. This all sounds positive, but the issue could be that its current success rests upon businesses directly benefiting from engaging with niche audiences who buy niche products, such as those planning a wedding, or people interested in crafts.

This niche targeting is largely at odds with where the mobile advertising market is moving, and so runs the risk of failing to get the attention of some of advertising’s biggest spenders. Procter & Gamble (P&G) notably reduced its purchasing of targeted advertising on Facebook recently, which is significant given that roughly 80 per cent of Facebook’s ad revenues come from mobile. P&G’s chief marketing office commented: “We targeted too much, and we went too narrow… and now we’re looking at: what is the best way to get the most reach but also the right precision.”

This is a shift we’ve noted at Widespace, where brands are increasingly looking at mobile as a branding tool rather than purely for direct response.

As brands become more attuned to the way consumers use mobile – where they often second screen with other channels like TV, but with mobile increasingly becoming the primary screen – advertisers are looking to replicate that broader reach that they get with traditional channels, but digitally.

There’s a unique way that we connect with mobile devices that isn’t present elsewhere. It’s hugely personal but primarily a discovery tool, so perfect for driving brand awareness.

Read more: As social media gets better at monetising, what can marketers expect

For Pinterest to compete, therefore, it must harness its new mobile video offering to give brands access to broader audiences. Figuring out what brings its small communities together, rather than what makes them unique, will enable the platform to offer broader segments to advertisers, emulating that broad reach of TV but backed by data and accountability – the holy grail for any advertiser.

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.

Related articles