Pinterest will roll out new features for brands to promote products and ideas to users, the digital pinboard company said Wednesday, part of an effort to grow online shopping on its site.
The features come as social media rivals including Facebook, TikTok and Snap compete for the lucrative e-commerce market with in-app shopping or virtual clothing try-ons.
Brands can now upload their product catalogues and Pinterest will automatically pull items into a slideshow advertisement that will be tailored to users based on their interests, the company said.
What are the new features?
Buyable pins—digital photos or gifs of a product that can be purchased from a Pinterest page—can now be tailored to the interests of the user who sees it, with the exception of a user’s age.
Pins can be clicked on and bought. But no shipping will be charged until the shopper converts from the ad into a purchase.
The second change is around product discovery, with the introduction of Product Pins. In addition to giving users more ways to discover products, they will be personalized to their taste based on what they have previously searched for on Pinterest and on external sites.
Pinterest said the two features would be available to more brands in the coming weeks.
How will brands use them?
If the user’s interests align with a brand’s merchandise, the company’s sales team can reach out to the user directly and promote its products directly through their Pinterest account.
At launch, the feature is available in the United States and will roll out to more countries later this year, Pinterest said.
“We’re really excited about the potential to drive up sales,” said Pinterest’s head of product Tom Saretsky.
Earlier this year, Pinterest also partnered with Amazon.com Inc. AMZN, +0.70% to test same-day delivery in Seattle.
The new ads feature comes as other social media companies introduce ads as part of a growing effort to support their e-commerce efforts and boost revenue.
What benefits do they bring to Pinterest?
"We are seeing a huge shift to see discovery channels like Pinterest or Instagram as the first stop for when someone is shopping for a new purchase," said Jon Osborne, head of business development at Pinterest.
Users will be able to click to purchase the products that catch their attention in the ad, he added.
Pinterest's shopping ads are a way for brands to reach consumers and encourage purchases without running TV or print ads.
Pinterest, which made its name as a pinboard where users create virtual bulletin boards, said 50 million businesses use its service to create boards that can attract members to buy their products.
What are the challenges for brands?
“There are a couple of issues for brands that want to get on Pinterest,” said Jonathan Badeen, chief operating officer at Pinterest. “One is there aren’t many ready-made layout templates that brands want to move to the web from their mobile app.”
To be ready for this, Pinterest said it built in tools that allow brands to customize their ad, including changing the size of the images, to “have a more seamless experience on the web.”
Another challenge: Product inventory is still a struggle for many brands. Pinterest launched “style labels” so users could find ideas by the types of clothes or accessories they offer.