Pinterest faces the monetisation challenges that other social platforms encounter. Unlike Facebook’s robust set of traditional demographic and interest information, Pinterest has a collection of artefacts that may have different levels of identification. When you pin something, the enterprise may know about that product but other enterprises may know nothing, creating a real profiling challenge. Media dollars follow eyeballs, but they need to understand who those eyeballs belong to and what they view to make ad-buying decisions. Building marketing profiles based on Pins is a significant behavioural challenge, but if solved, will significantly improve Pinterest’s monetisation opportunities.
Pinterest will also face challenges around content control because serious ad-buyers want some degree of content control. Pinterest is a content mishmash and the most obvious types of targeting could leave a visitor viewing your ad next to a pinned product of a competitor. So while any platform with multiple unique visitors can sell ads, Pinterest as an ad platform has some challenges.
The biggest advantage Pinterest has is the existing model of driving significant referrals. Pinterest can’t easily charge for referrals, but it can add value to them. Most enterprise sites want to understand more about their anonymous visitors and any expert enterprise can find ways to understand their identified customers and optimise their experience.
Third-party aggregators are building businesses around tracking visitors across properties and profiling them in real-time, improving a site’s customisation for anonymous visitors. Given the high-volume of referrals that Pinterest generates, there may be a monetisation opportunity to profile visitors during the pass-off. A standardised interest-based profile would allow Pinterest to treat referrals as an advertising pass-off. Instead of charging for the pass-off, they could charge for the Pinterest profile that could come along with it. Pinterest has an advantage because referring out to sites is a natural and constant function of Pinterest.
Products that appeal to the Pinterest demographics have a real shot at high marketing ROI. Compared to Facebook or Twitter the ease of fitting Pinterest into a product-based ecommerce strategy is striking. But while that ease of third-party monetisation is sure to attract a healthy enterprise community, it doesn’t necessarily solve Pinterest’s own monetisation challenges. With eyeballs comes revenue. But revenue per eyeball will be dependent on Pinterest’s ability to behaviourally profile its audience in an interesting fashion and find ways to monetise the pass-off.