How brands can build an optimistic future

Amid a year of protests, politics and pandemics, where your ads show up matters now more than ever. 

By Louise Richardson, Director of Marketing, Europe, Pinterest 

19 October 2020

Louise Richardson, Director of Marketing for Europe at Pinterest

‘When I see brands in negative and unsafe places, I start to lose my confidence and trust in them that they are coming from a good place. As a result, I’m less likely to purchase from them.’

Female Pinner, 20s

Ads only stand out when they fit in

Outside of work I am what you might call a Pinterest fanatic. For many years now, it’s been the place I turn to daily for inspiration and, most importantly for me, for bringing that inspiration to life.

Pinterest has helped me to do my job, raise my kids, style my hair and decorate my house. I have literally pinned thousands of ideas to hundreds of boards—the vast majority of which came from brands. But until about a year ago, before I was recruited by Pinterest, I had never seen it as an ads platform—precisely because it is such a good ads platform.

On Pinterest, the interests of Pinners and advertisers are perfectly aligned: people come here to find new stuff; brands sell the stuff. It’s really that simple.

Negative online spaces are draining your brand spend

Various images of party scenes and food

Let’s face it: 2020 has been anything but simple. It’s been a year of protests, politics and pandemics, leading to frustration, disconnection from society and bad actors airing their grievances on digital platforms.

However, at Pinterest, we started to see some good news surface. In the last six months, Pinner engagement went through the roof: Up to 416 million people now come to Pinterest every month, a 39% increase year on year. 1

Most notably, our search data began to show Pinners emerging from the negativity of their offline and online worlds. They were turning to Pinterest as a place to plan for recovery and rebuilding. So we commissioned some research to find out how the Pinner’s positive mindset mattered when it came to brands and advertisers.   

Here’s the thing: Anger and divisiveness may encourage people to scroll (and troll!) but it doesn’t get them to buy.2 Our latest research shows that negative environments make people less likely to remember, less likely to trust and less likely to purchase from brands.3 In other words: It pays to be positive. Literally.

Context matters

Funnel graph

Gone are the days when people turn a blind eye to the environment in which your messaging appears. They want a more inspired internet and they’re seeking out positivity in online spaces. 

Our own search data offers powerful insights into the world’s search for positivity this year. Alongside the  increases you might expect during lockdown—homeschooling, lunch ideas, home office decor—Pinterest search data shows a hard trend towards actively seeking out positive messages. Searches including “spread positivity” are up 3x, while “positive habits” and “positive mindset” are both up nearly 60%.4

Our research shows that positive online environments have a halo effect on the brands that show up there—from awareness and sentiment to trust and purchase. And 70% of consumers will forever hold brands accountable for how they show up during this year of crisis.5

Freedom of speech isn’t freedom of reach

Timeline of policy milestones

Positive places don’t happen by accident—they happen because of proactive policy decisions made by leadership. Pinterest has deliberately and consciously engineered a place where positivity is built into everything we do. 

We’ve always had a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to harmful content and go the extra mile to ensure it has no home on our platform. We have industry-leading positions on content safety and we invest heavily in measures like machine learning technology to maintain them. If there’s a search term that we’ve determined presents a risk, we’ll prevent your ads from appearing alongside it. 

Not only does this protect Pinners from harmful content, but it also provides a safe space for brands to appear, to embed themselves in the mindset of the Pinner finding inspiration to lead a life they love. 

In a post-COVID world, the majority of adults agree it’s a brand’s responsibility to advertise in safe, positive places. And advertisers agree that place is Pinterest: 92% of US Pinterest advertisers surveyed ranked us first on overall reputation among eight leading platforms—nearly 20 points above the nearest competitor.6

This is no longer just a moralistic argument. Our research proves that when ads show up in a more positive environment online, they can drive impact at every stage of the purchase funnel. So whether you’re building brand awareness, consumer trust or driving conversions—or even just trying to make it through 2020—it pays to be positive.

Download our report

Images of road trips

Our research suggests showing up in a more positive environment online drives impact at every stage of the purchase funnel. Learn how—and what it means for your brand.