For some time Pinterest has been a favourite amongst users, but the free image sharing site is yet to successfully monetize its position; “They’ve gotten past the point of being successful with consumers [and] at some point, the business has to make money,” said Jeremy Levine who sits on Pinterest’s board.
Last week Pinterest announced they were beginning another round of investment that would give it a valuation of nearly $2.5 billion; not an easy figure to justify when so little progress has been made towards commercialising the platform. And while Pinterest certainly has plans to make it more attractive to businesses, none of these plans yet have specific dates and consequently marketers and businesses have been taking matters into their own hands.
In an attempt to fill the commercial gaps left by Pinterest, third party websites have emerged to help businesses monetise their Pinterest audiences more effectively. Pinbooster, for example, enables businesses to promote sponsored images to their audiences, while Pinfluencer, who yesterday signed up online retail giant Zappo’s, enable businesses to track the behaviour of their Pinterest audience so that they can more accurately quantify their return on investment. The situation is far from ideal, however, with Pinfluencer having to take users away from Pinterest to a separate but identical web page, in the hope that users don’t notice or distrust the change in domain.
It’s a precarious situation for these third party platforms. To develop a business model around the shortcomings of another is helpful to businesses in the short term but it’s surely only a matter of time before Pinterest offers a fully integrated solution that could instantly make these third parties obselete. However, for the time being the results are lucrative enough to justify the gamble. Pinterest lends itself so completely to positive brand awareness – with a much less cynical attitude towards consumer items than that often found on Facebook or Twitter – that businesses are happy to put their hands in their pockets if it means receiving the data and functionality that Pinterest seem so unable or unwilling to provide.