Pin­ter­est to start first ad cam­paign

CEO wants peo­ple to know app isn’t a so­cial net­work but a visual search en­gine

Toronto Star - - BUSINESS - SARAH FRIER BLOOMBERG

Why join yet an­other so­cial net­work?

That’s the ques­tion keep­ing peo­ple from sign­ing up for Pin­ter­est, ac­cord­ing to chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Ben Silbermann. Ex­cept they have the wrong im­pres­sion.

Pin­ter­est is a site for com­ing up with ideas, he said.

Peo­ple do post photos and videos, but it’s not to get likes or comments — it’s to re­mem­ber what in­spires them.

This sum­mer, Pin­ter­est is launch­ing its first ma­jor advertising cam­paign in the U.S. It’s con­sid­er­ing spend­ing on bill­boards, web­sites, news­pa­pers and mag­a­zines to get its mes­sage across.

“The No. 1 chal­lenge is get­ting peo- ple to un­der­stand that Pin­ter­est isn’t a so­cial net­work,” Silbermann said in an interview for Bloomberg’s De­crypted pod­cast.

He says the app is used best as a visual search en­gine.

“The hope is that you’ll get ideas for your real life, and you’ll close the app, get off your phone and try those ideas.”

Pin­ter­est is advertising to add users as other, larger net­works start to mimic parts of its product.

In­sta­gram, for ex­am­ple, re­cently added a fea­ture that al­lows peo­ple to save other users’ pic­tures into col­lec­tions that they can re­visit later.

Al­pha­bet Inc.’s Google re­cently added shop­pable photos in im­age searches.

Since the ad cam­paign is still in its plan­ning stages, Pin­ter­est wouldn’t say how much it in­tends to spend or whether it will in­clude TV ads.

The com­pany is work­ing with Janet Champ, a cre­ative di­rec­tor known for Nike cam­paigns, and hopes to high­light users who went “from dream­ing about their life to de­sign­ing it,” ac­cord­ing to a spokesper­son.

Last year, the com­pany did an ad cam­paign in Lon­don with tele­vi­sion and posters in pub­lic tran­sit.

This year, the ef­fort is larger, in the U.S. as well as in­ter­na­tion­ally.

Still, amid the ris­ing com­pe­ti­tion, Silbermann says the most ef­fec­tive way to add users isn’t advertising. It’s im­prov­ing the product.

“Es­pe­cially as a smaller com­pany than the tech giants like Google and Face­book, it’s not ne­go­tiable that we have to move re­ally, re­ally quickly,” he said.

“Oth­er­wise you’re go­ing to lose.”

“The hope is that you’ll get ideas for your real life, and you’ll close the app, get off your phone and try those ideas.” BEN SILBERMANN CHIEF EX­EC­U­TIVE OF­FI­CER OF PIN­TER­EST

LIONEL BON­AVEN­TURE/AFP/GETTY IM­AGES FILE PHOTO

Pin­ter­est wouldn’t say how much it in­tends to spend on its cam­paign in the U.S. or whether it will in­clude TV ads.

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