Jon Jenkins, who joined Pinterest a year ago as its head of engineering, is leaving the company in what he describes on Quora as a “bittersweet” decision. Jenkins says wants to launch his own company, a wish he had even before he joined Pinterest. We’ve contacted Pinterest to ask for more details about who their next engineering head will be.
“Long before I made the decision to move to the Bay Area I had the spark of an idea brewing in the back of my mind,” Jenkins wrote. “Since being immersed in the startup rich environment of San Francisco that spark has grown into a flame and now is the time for me to see if I can turn that idea into a real business. In the coming months, I’ll be developing the concept and talking with investors about how to build an entirely new business. I’m really excited for what lies ahead for both Pinterest and myself!”
Jenkins also said that during his year at Pinterest, the company’s engineering team has more than tripled in size. New features launched include place pins, a localized Japanese site, its first API for partners and new versions of its Android and iOS apps.
Before joining Pinterest, Jenkins served as Amazon’s engineering lead for eight years and led the team responsible for the Silk browser on the Kindle Fire. He was also director of development tools, director of platform analysis and director of website platform. Jenkins’ hire was a sign that Pinterest, which has three non-technical co-founders, was starting to get serious about the technical challenges of building up its site’s infrastructure.
As Pinterest opens its doors to advertisers, retailers have been carefully monitoring the service’s ability to drive traffic to their sites, and more importantly, increase conversions that impact their bottom lines.
Over the Black Friday/Cyber Monday shopping holidays, Pinterest delivered on this promise – or so claims a new report from marketing and analytics provider firm Piqora. The company found that Pinterest doubled the revenue sent to retailers on Black Friday, and more than tripled the revenue (up by 3.6x) on Cyber Monday, when compared with the 30-day average preceding the Thanksgiving holiday.
And since the after-Thanksgiving sales began a little early this year, it’s also worth noting that Pinterest drove two times the revenue on turkey day as well.
According to Piqora CEO Sharad Verma, whose company helps retailers and other brands market themselves across the “visual web” on sites like Pinterest, Instagram, and Tumblr, what the Black Friday/Cyber Monday figures show is that Pinterest users aren’t just “pinning for the sake of pinning.”
That discounts a widely held assumption that users on the site have been saving items they found there in a more “aspirational” manner, rather than a practical one. Or to put it more simply, there was concern that a Pinterest save didn’t indicate buying intent.
Says Verma, that’s not so. “[Pinterest users] are pinning to buy and they are going to Pinterest to look for products to buy. They thought of Pinterest as a destination for their holiday shopping circuit,” he explains. “That never happened with F-commerce or Twitter, else we would have known it by now.”
However, though revenue sent to retailers via Pinterest increased over these recent, lucrative shopping days, traffic across the site remained flat. This is because users on Cyber Monday and the like are more in “buying” mode, and less in “collecting or discovery” mode, so the overall clicks on pins and outbound traffic didn’t see any meaningful jump.
But though there were not more clicks, the clicks Pinterest delivered those days were more profitable. “We know that Pinners pin before they buy, and they click on their past pins when they are ready to buy them,” Verma says. “A bulk of those purchases (from self pins) happen between the second day of pinning and four weeks,” he notes.
For retailers, that means those who had optimized their websites for pinning ahead of the Black Friday/Cyber Monday benefitted the most. The higher the share of pins they offered, the larger their Pinterest catalogs, the more the clicks. And, apparently, the more revenue as a result.
For this latest report, Piqora also took the time to study the top tags and images across the site during the Black Friday/Cyber Monday shopping days to determine what exactly people were pinning and buying. Not too surprisingly, given the season, the answer was simply “boots and coats.”
Though the findings are a bit self-serving given Piqora’s interest in helping companies market themselves on Pinterest and elsewhere, its data holds up against reports from others which also previously found Pinterest capable of driving more social media traffic and revenue than Facebook or Twitter. Large retailers are abundant on the site, and though they may not discuss their exact numbers, many have been shown to be very bullish on the benefits of being on Pinterest.
For instance, Nordstrom embraced Pinterest so fully that it’s testing popular Pinterest items on floor displays, and armed sales staff with iPads which contain an internal app showing the most pinned merchandise. Meanwhile, Lowe’s director of social media, Brad Walters, said in an interview earlier this year that the company would consider Pinterest’s advertising platform.
Though Pinterest is a young site, has raised a massive amount of funding which values the business at $3.8 billion, and is only now launching its own advertising platform, the company has momentum among online retailers. According to Internet Retailers’ October study, 59.5% of respondents said they would increase use of Pinterest this holiday season compared with last year. For comparison’s sake, 54.8% said the same about Facebook, and 32.6% said so for Twitter. In addition, 78% of the retailers in the site’s 2013 Top 500 Guide are active on Pinterest.
Welcome to this morning’s edition of “First To Know,” a series in which we keep you in the know on what’s happening in the digital world.
Today, we’re looking at three particularly interesting storiesPinterest added a new location-based feature on Wednesday that uses Place Pins as a way to map out vacations and favorite areas. Southwest Airlines is providing Wi-Fi access from gate to gate for $8 per day through an onboard hotspot. And in an effort to ramp up its user base, Google Wallet is offering a debit card that can take out cash from your bank account as well as funds from your Wallet account. Read more…
For example, if a user pins a photo of a burger from a local restaurant in her neighborhood, she can also add the restaurant’s location to a map on her board. With these locations, users can better create pinboards for trip planning and highlighting hotspots in their particular neighborhood, according to Pinterest CEO Ben Silbermann.
Users can click “add a map” on a new board or in the settings of an existing board to start adding Place Pins. They can then add the pin’s location through a Google-type search bar. Some pins from early Pinterest partners, such as Airbnb and OpenTable, already have the location included. Read more…
Pinterest released a new set of tools for users that would help them “explore” and share the things around them. At an event with 150 “Pinners” (and an untold number of journalists) at Pinterest HQ in San Francisco, CEO Ben Silbermann announced that the company would introduce new ways to plan trips.
“We’re excited to inspire you to go out and do things,” Silbermann told the audience. The new product, called “Place Pins,” is designed to help users provide a visual guide to finding places to go and things to explore.
Pinterest users, or “pinners” can beginning planning trips by creating a new board based on location, and then adding pins with locations to those boards. The tool adds a map, images, and relevant information to the pins, and allows pinners to view the places they’d like to visit both online and on mobile.
While being able to share online could help users find inspiration and plan trips together, the real killer app is on mobile, where Pinterest users will be able to keep track of places even while they’re on the go. (And hey, how important is it that you can access those places while traveling?)
The new Pinterest Place Pins depend on Foursquare’s location API, along with Mapbox’s map technology. But even if a location isn’t on the map doesn’t mean that pinners can’t add them – they can also add locations of their own. And Pinterest users can also use their mobile apps to get directions, based on location information they have collected.
The announcement comes not long after Pinterest raised a huge new funding round, bringing in $225 million from Fidelity Investments, as well as existing investors Andreessen Horowitz, FirstMark Capital, Bessemer Venture Partners and Valiant Capital Management. To justify that investment, which valued the company at $3.8 billion, Pinterest has begun looking for ways to make money off the massive number of user-curated pieces of content that have been collected from around the web.
One of the ways Pinterest is accomplishing that is with Promoted Pins, which are paid placements from various brands and advertisements that show up within Pinterest category and search fields. There are a number of other features the company has recently rolled out, such as a now-trending tool, personalized pin recommendations, price alerts, and more tools for businesses that are designed to increase the reach of companies trying to connect with potential customers.
While Pinterest didn’t mention monetization plans at the event, it seems like a no-brainer that connect its users to local businesses in places all around the world. Because if it knows they want to go to the place, offering up discounts or providing some other incentive to get them there seems like an obvious next step.
Pinterest continues to expand overseas, and the company isn’t slowing down any time soon
Pinterest added four new languages Friday as the company expanded into Denmark (Danish), Sweden (Swedish), Norway (Norwegian Bokmål) and Finland (Finnish). The company shared the news in a blog post, confirming that Pinterest will expand into five additional countries before the year ends with another 10 planned for 2014
Since first expanding overseas in June with the site’s French and UK versions, Pinterest has added a total of eight new countries, including its first employees in London, Paris, and Tokyo. Read more…
Pinterest is opening its API to retailers who wish to embed pins directly on their websites, the company announced Thursday
A handful of Pinterest partners now have the option to surface their most popular pins directly on the homepage of their websites. Initial Pinterest partners include major brands like Walmart, Disney, Random House, Zappos and Mashable
See also: 15 Stylish Ladies to Follow on Pinterest
In addition to brands surfacing top Pinterest content on their sites, users will be able to re-pin images and posts that they like directly from the company’s website. The content will update in real time, meaning the list of “favorites” will update as more users interact with Pinterest, according to a Pinterest spokesperson. Read more…
Pinterest Launches Its First API, And It’s All About Big Brands And Big Media, With Zappos, Walmart, Disney, Nestle, Random House, Hearst Using Top Pins And More
Pinterest is today, at long last, releasing its first API for developers, which will let third-party sites embed Pinterest pins, and make it easier to post content into Pinterest itself. First partners for the service are a list of big brands and retailers – including Zappos, Walmart, Disney, Nestle, Random House and Hearst – underscoring how the site is ramping up for revenue generation with advertising and cross-marketing.
“We’re releasing documentation for multiple APIs that will roll out to partners over the coming weeks,” the company notes in its blog. These will include Top Pins API (showcase top clicked pins / top re-pins, launching on partner sites today); Domain search (surface trending results for keywords such as “Men’s Boots”, “Thanksgiving recipes”, or “Fashion Week”); Most Recent (bring a stream of your latest pins to your site); and Related Pins (suggest other pins people may like based on the item or content they’re viewing).
More features will be getting added to the API over time, the company says.
Pinterest has already proven itself to be a strong driver of referral traffic on the web – second after Facebook in a list of leading traffic referral sites from Shareaholic, but growing the fastest.
What adding an API will mean is that Pinterest is now laying the groundwork to expand that role. It will make existing pins more useful to sites and brands, and also make it easier for people to post to Pinterest. Both of these will also help Pinterest string its data together in a more actionable way. Just as the recent deal with Getty will provide more metadata to pins that use Getty images, stronger links between pins and the sites/brands from which they come will mean that they can be better tracked by Pinterest, and those brands themselves. That will mean, too, potentially more marketing spend against that.
Pinterest notes also that users can now pin directly from these sites, “so there’s no need to interrupt your shopping, reading, or browsing.” The full list of partners for the early roll out are AllRecipes, Better Homes and Garden, BuzzFeed, Disney sites Babble and BabyZone, Elle Magazine, Mashable, ModCloth, NBC News Digital’s iVillage, Nestlé, Random House, Snapguide, Target, Walmart, Wayfair, Whole Foods,Zappos, Zulily, with Spoonful and Taste Book coming soon.
According to new data sourced by the social marketers at Piqora (previously Pinfluencer), the value of a pin on Pinterest growing – today, a pin generates 78 cents in sales, on average. That’s up by nearly 25 percent from Q4 2012, says Piqora. More importantly, perhaps, is the fact that a pin can drive both pageviews and orders several months after its original pinning.
Pinterest pins deliver two site visits and six pageviews, on average, and more than 10 re-pins. That’s more viral than Twitter, the company notes, where posts are only retweeted 1.4 percent of the time
Piqora, which originally arose to track Pinterest usage before Pinterest itself got into the analytics business, has since expanded its reach and rebranded to reflect its broader footprint across other social networks, like Tumblr and Instagram, for example. But it still has a deep understanding of what’s going on across the Pinterest network, thanks to its earlier efforts.
Today, hundreds of brands turn to Piqora for its insights, including Overstock.com, Steve Madden, Crate&Barrel, ZGallerie, AMC, Sephora, Orbitz, HauteLook, and Shape, to name a few.
To reach its conclusions about the growing value attached to a pin, Piqora’s engineers analyzed 1,000 brands on Pinterest from February of this year through the end of October, including both e-commerce brands and other publishers. It found that, overall, Pinterest was maturing as a social commerce platform, as more brands began to add “Pin It” buttons to websites, and introduce more Pins that led back to product pages.
In terms of the pin’s value calculation, the company explains that includes the visits and orders driven by the re-pins across the Pinterest network, too. And if you’re surprised by the number, remember that it includes a wide range of brands – not just e-commerce sites that appeal to Pinterest’s core, and largely female, audience, but also other publishers.
Says Piqora CEO Sharad Verma, some categories among e-commerce brands could do even better, when they’re more in line with what Pinterest users like. “Martha Stewart was getting 10x more traffic last year from Pinterest than from Facebook,” he says. “So obviously there are cases where a publisher or retailer in a visual space like food, fashion or home decor is very likely to be getting way over two site visits [per pin].”
In other words, a pin’s real value depends on what you’re selling – so the numbers will vary from site to site.
But what’s interesting about the collected data is that it shows the network can enable product discovery over a period of time, well after the first pinning takes place. Half of site visits take place 3.5 months after the first pinning, while half of orders take place 2.5 months after the pinning.
“Good pins are frozen in time on Pinterest,” explains Verma. “The network has a very strong memory – if a product is pinned, it signals it’s a product worth buying.”
The reason products do well for so long on Pinterest is the way the site is structured. On social networks like Twitter and Facebook, information discovery and the user experience is concentrated on the feed. Users are not browsing much beyond their feed to look for other information. But on Pinterest, users navigate to other categories and popular sections, allowing them to find more items.
These new findings are relevant given Pinterest’s high valuation following several large funding rounds, which value the network at $3.8 billion. Over the course of this year, Pinterest has finally started its monetization efforts, initially by introducing tools for brands like rich pins and product pins, as well as pin recommendations (ads) that appear in users’ feeds and category pages.
Verma notes that Pinterest’s traction on mobile could be a hint toward where the company could go with those monetization efforts in the future. Piqora’s analysis found that Pinterest’s mobile user base grew by 50 percent this year with 75 percent of the usage happening on mobile (according to data from brands’ own analytics).
“I do believe that Pinterest is gradually becoming the Google of the visual web,” Verma says. “We believe that Pinterest is emerging as the starting point of product discovery and product entertainment on mobile devices.” Users could begin turning to Pinterest when they want to look something up in the product realm, and that could lead the network to own e-commerce product discovery. “Advertisers could then pay for persistent and prominent product placements, just as those advertisers did on Google,” he adds.
It’s worth noting, too, that the clicks and revenue data Piqora collected comes ahead of the 2013 holiday season, when those are likely to surge as users go online shopping for gifts this month and next. Last Q4, the company found a pin was worth 64 cents, and ahead of the holidays, it’s already worth much more. Piqora should have additional analysis around Q4 2013 when this shopping season wraps.
[Image: Modified from Shutterstock]
The Japanese version of Pinterest is now live as the site ramps up its global expansion. The launch comes 18 months after Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten became an investor in Pinterest. For the first time ever, with Japanese Pinterest, Rakuten login is available on a non-Rakuten product. Japanese users can log onto the site using Rakuten Connect, its version of Facebook Connect which gives access to Rakuten’s online store and other services. Rakuten has 80 million members, compared to Pinterest’s current base of 70 million users.
The localized site features subcategories that cover 100 different topics for hair styling, paper crafts, products, design, art and food popular in Japan. A Pinterest blog post says that the company took into account market research in Japan, as well feedback from a beta version. We’ve contacted Pinterest and Rakuten for more information.
Rakuten lead a $100 million Pinterest in May 2012 in a round of funding that was said to value the site at $1.5 billion. Then in October 2013, that valuation was bumped up to an impressive $3.8 billion after Pinterest raised a Series E of $225 million from Andreessen Horowitz, FirstMark Capital, Bessemer Venture Partners and Valiant Capital Management. Rakuten did not return for the Series E, but Pinterest said that the proceeds would be used for corporate purposes including international expansion to build on its 125% international growth since the beginning of the year.
Pinterest’s new Japanese site comes on the heels of its launch into the UK, France and Italy. It said it plans to launch in 10 more countries by the end of this year (now presumably 9, since it’s checked Japan off that list). The company also added that it would continue to develop its monetization model, which began testing earlier this month, into a global program. Pinterest’s Japan launch comes amid continuing questions about how the site will justify its rich valuation. Potential answers include a developing a new advertising scheme that resembles a revenue share where it gets paid dollars when its ads lead directly to people buying items, opposed to getting paid cents per impression.
Last year, Rakuten’s CEO Hiroshi Mikitani told AllThingD that his company made its $100 million bet in Pinterest in part because he had developed a strong relationship with its founder Ben Silbermann.
Rakuten’s stake in Pinterest also fits into its ongoing investment into U.S. e-commerce startups. In 2013 alone, it has helped fund Slice, a company that organizes commerce data by tapping into your inbox; Apcera, an enterprise IT platform; retail marketplace Daily Grommet; and luxury retail site AHAlife. It also acquired Webgistik, a e-commerce fulfillment company, to help expand into the US. All these companies may help Rakuten fuel the expansion of its e-commerce business outside of Asia and make it a stronger competitor against Amazon.