Pinterest is the world’s inspiration company. Over 300 million people come to our platform every month to get inspired. They’re looking for ideas for big things, like planning a wedding or renovating a home. Or smaller ambitions, like finding the perfect interview outfit, or a recipe that will get their kids to eat cauliflower.
On our journey to growing the company, we’ve learned an important lesson when it comes to advertising. Ads stand out more when they fit in. People are looking to brands for solutions on how to make their dreams—big and small—a reality and they want them to show up in a helpful and relevant way. In fact, more than 8 in 10 people on Pinterest have purchased something they saw from a brand on Pinterest.2
So what makes an inspiring ad? Our research shows:
- They’re beautiful: The brain responds to unique and beautiful aesthetic, period.
- They’re novel: They take a new perspective, even on an old thing.
- They’re positive: They aren’t rooted in fear or self-loathing. Think “could” not “should.”
- They’re attainable: It’s a stretch within reach.
- And they’re actionable: The consumer can take action right now if they want to. It’s clear how to try, make, do or buy.
It’s hard to be all five of these dimensions at once—and you don’t have to be. It’s about making a conscious choice to create ads that contribute to a collection of humanity’s best ideas, rather than distracting from them.
The last few years have been a time of reckoning for the ad tech industry. I could sense a strong desire for change at Advertising Week. Everybody seems to be looking at each other to find a way to rebuild consumer trust. But here’s the thing: this industry will only change if we make it.
The partners you choose today will decide what technology and media and advertising look like tomorrow. We all have a responsibility to make sure we’re putting our money where our values are. And that means knowing your personal values. It’s something we don’t talk about often enough: companies don’t actually have values. People do. As marketers, we can all recite our company values; but do we know our own?
Here’s my advice: Know your values. Apply them to your partners. That will catalyze the change we all want for this industry.
Pinterest isn’t perfect, but we are willing to make the hard choices that keep us aligned with our values. For example, we don’t serve political campaign ads. We don’t allow clickbait. We don't allow ads that imply outrageous or dangerous results, like "miracle" weight loss solutions. And when you search vaccine-related terms on Pinterest, we only serve results from reliable sources, like the American Academy of Pediatrics and the World Health Organization.
There’s no question the shopping industry has experienced tectonic shifts over the last few years—look no further than America’s abandoned malls as evidence. But in our new world of one-click purchases and instant delivery, it’s easy to forget that people still love to browse. They still want to experience the magic of shopping.
We’re solving for that at Pinterest. Using Pinterest with a shopping mindset should feel like walking into a mall filled with the world’s best ideas. It’s a place to discover new things, and then get connected to what you need to do those things in the real world. Pinterest is about your actual life. Not just your online life.
And we’re constantly innovating to recreate that magic of discovery that you experience in the offline world. Take Pinterest Lens. With Lens, if you see something you love offline—like a Danish modern chair at a friend’s house—you can snap a photo of it with your Pinterest app and we’ll help you find it—and buy it—online.
We made these updates to Lens as we know people love to search for things visually—it’s the “you’ll know it when you see it” thinking. Visual searches are becoming more and more common—we’re seeing hundreds of millions of visual searches every month on Pinterest.
People like to look for what they love. When we innovate to make the shopping experience better, it gives advertisers an opportunity to turn inspiration into action.
“It’s about making a conscious choice to create ads that contribute to a collection of humanity’s best ideas, rather than distracting from them.”
I gave a talk at Advertising Week on my values. I value inspiration. I value courage. I value innovation. I came to Pinterest because it aligns with all three. Together with the industry, we can make ads inspiring again. We can make the change we want to see in the industry. And we can innovate in ways that enhance the shopping experience.
When advertisers are brave, ads are brave—and they’re more likely to break through the noise, stand out, make a difference.
—Andréa Mallard, currently saving to Beekeeping
1eMarketer, “Ad Blocking Growth Is Slowing Down, but Not Going Away,” July 2019
2GfK, US, Pinterest Path to Purchase Study among Weekly Pinners who use Pinterest in the Category, Nov 2018