It was another solid quarter for Facebook ads in Q4 of 2013, as the company recorded its best quarter ever in terms of overall engagement, according to new research from Adobe
Facebook saw record highs in areas such as total ad clicks and click-through rates last quarter, according to Adobe’s Q4 2013 Social Intelligence Report, which analyzes ad clicks and referral traffic for most major social networks. The social network’s click-through rates were up 365% over Q4 2012, and total ad-click volume more than doubled over the same time period last year
Earlier this week, some Pinterest users noticed that the company was experimenting with support for animated GIFs on its site – the popular, moving images that, until recently, defaulted to static photos when pinned. Today, Pinterest says that it’s rolling out support for GIFs to all pinners on the web, with mobile support expected “soon.”
According to the company, around 1 million users see a GIF on Pinterest every day, and there are already 10 million GIF images across the site. These pins will retroactively become animated GIFs, it seems.
Going forward, when you pin a GIF to Pinterest, a “play” and “pause” button will appear in the lower left-hand corner of the pin itself, Pinterest explains.
That doesn’t mean you’re in charge of determining whether your pin will be animated or not when you post – instead, the play button is visible on the GIFs found in Pinterest’s main feed, category feeds, and search results pages. In other words, Pinterest is keeping the look-and-feel of its site the same as before (meaning, static images), but now you at least have the option of clicking play to see the GIF right on Pinterest, instead of clicking through to the site where it’s hosted.
GIFs have been popular on the web for some time, but until now, Tumblr has been the social service best known for GIF sharing. With Pinterest’s support, that could change. (Especially with Tumblr traffic looking flat these days.)
Meanwhile, Facebook has rolled out autoplay videos, which some suspect may be a precursor to animated GIF support. But while the social network could technically enable GIFs at any time, it may not have wanted to dilute the experience with the busy, and sometimes bothersome, images.
Pinterest, however, seems to have found a nice middle ground.
When users come across a GIF within Pinterest, it will now show a small “play” button in the lower lefthand corner where users can start and pause the GIF.
This is the same feature that Pinterest has been testing with select users, as reported earlier this week by Mashable. It will be available to all web users, including international users, beginning Thursday, according to a company spokesperson.
Pinterest is introducing a new way to browse its site with the addition of a category called “Personalized for You.” This new section is essentially a version of Pinterest based entirely on your interests. For example, a fashion-focused Pinterest user might see categories like boots, jackets, dresses, or jewelry on this page, which they could then click into and further explore.
The feature is not yet available to all users, indicating that it could be the first step within a larger rollout, or a public-facing personalization experiment. We asked Pinterest to clarify this, but the company declined to offer further details.
From our understanding, some selection of the Pinterest user base is seeing a notification asking them if they would like to try this new feature when they log in.
This option started appearing in select users’ accounts this week, where it becomes available in Pinterest’s top navigation. That’s where you find your “Home Feed,” the “Popular” feed, the “Everything” feed, and other categories like “Art,” “Food & Drink,” “Home Decor,” “Travel,” “Weddings,” and many more. For those users who are able to access the new personalized section, it is now the first option in this category list.
Your “personalized” page itself is a collection of words and topics that seem to be based on your pinning activity. What’s different about this section is not only the content, but also the look-and-feel, which is somewhat Flipboard-esque. Instead of uniformly sized pins, some sections here are larger than others, likely indicating you’re doing more pinning around that particular topic.
Also interesting is that each individual category page within your personalized section shows which pins inspired its suggestions.
The only somewhat negative review we’ve come across so far is one posted on a blog called “Posh Purpose,” where the user complained that she had no interest in one of the categories presented on her page, saying she was only doing research on the topic. Of course, this “research” took place before she apparently wrote about the subject and then pinned her own article to Pinterest – so I’d argue Pinterest understands her pretty well, in fact.
As you may recall, Pinterest has been slowly working to better personalize its service since the middle of last year, when it first introduced a way for users to opt out of having their activity tracked. The company’s decision to implement this “Do Not Track” toggle switch was meant to head off any future complaints before the company scaled up its personalization efforts in full force.
At the time, Pinterest noted that it would introduce a new “Edit Your Home Feed” button on web and mobile which would make it easier for you to follow and unfollow boards. When users entered into this editing mode, they would then be met with personalized pin and board suggestions based on things they had already been pinning on the service.
Later, when Pinterest rolled out support for “Promoted Pins” (in beta testing with advertisers now), the idea was to not inflict an awful advertising experience on the Pinterest user base with things like flashy banners or pop-ups, but instead showcase native ads in the form of subtly marked sponsored pin placements that blend into the overall look-and-feel of the site.
And most importantly, which Promoted Pins a user sees is, again, dependent on their interests.
Brands testing the Promoted Pins beta today include big names like Disney, Nordstrom, Four Seasons, Hellmann’s and Tresemme (Unilever), to name a few. A fully personalized version of Pinterest would offer brands like these and others a great place to showcase their Promoted Pins, where their placement would make even more sense to the end user.
The personalized page has another benefit as well – it allows you to explore Pinterest in a way that’s not dependent on who you follow on the service. That’s something which Pinterest has struggled with, as advertisers and brands looked to the “following” metric as if it was meaningful. In fact, Pinterest has even considered discarding this metric entirely, from what we’ve heard.
It’s easy enough to envision a different sort of Pinterest where what you see and explore is less about which friends or accounts you follow on the service, but rather what sort of things you like to pin and share.
UPDATE, 5:45 PM ET: This article was updated to reflect Pinterest’s comment. The full statement provided states, “We’re always working on ways to help people discover the best Pins for them based on their interests. We’re currently testing features to help people get to these Pins quickly, but have no further details to share at this time.”
(Image credits: TechCrunch sources and Posh Purpose blog)
Pinterest has cooked up a new way for users to find relevant recipes on its platform
Users can now enter individual foods and ingredients into the search bar on Pinterest, which will then surface relevant recipe pins from across the site. Previously, searching for ingredients returned recipes alongside other photos and pins. Starting Tuesday, users can filter so that only recipes are returned when ingredients are searched.
See also: 15 Stylish Ladies to Follow on Pinterest
Aspiring chefs will be able to filter the results by selecting from a handful of cuisine options along the lefthand side of the page, including vegetarian, vegan, gluten free and paleo. Another filter, “indulge me,” will surface the recipe pins that aren’t concerned with calorie counts Read more…
Pinterest today is announcing a new feature designed to make it easier for those who use the site to discover, save and share recipes with each other: recipe search. Effectively turning Pinterest into a much smarter search engine, you’ll now be able search by recipe type or even specific ingredients, in order to find matching recipes from your own collection of pins or those found across the site.
The addition plays right into one of Pinterest’s strengths: food and recipes are continually a top category on the service, having grown from around 11% of all pins on the site in 2012 to 18% as of fall 2013.
Going forward, when you search for a recipe or ingredients on Pinterest, you’ll be able to filter your results by category, in order to see only vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free or paleo meal ideas, for example. An “indulge me” option is also available, for when you’re looking for something not quite as healthy, Pinterest notes, while detailing the feature’s release on its company blog.
Searching for a specific ingredient or ingredients is simple. You just type in what you’re looking for in the search bar (e.g. “salmon with asparagus”) then click the “All Recipes” option on the results page. Once there, you can, of course, save your favorites to your own boards for easier access in the future. And as your own recipe collection becomes fairly large, this same search function can be configured to search only within your own boards, if you so choose.
Pinterest tells us that the new feature was developed by Jeff Miller, previously the founder and CEO of Punchfork, the recipe search and discovery service Pinterest acquired back in January 2013 – its first acquisition, in fact. That startup had once offered its users very similar options as Pinterest does now, in terms of searching for meals by ingredients or filtering recipes by diet.
Recipe search is one of many efforts surrounding Pinterest’s “more useful pins,” which aim to use structured data to not only find the exact thing you’re looking for on the site, but also display relevant information right next to the pin itself, when “rich pins” are involved. In the case of recipes, that means making things like the ingredients, cook time and number of servings more visible to searchers. Other rich pins, which are built by adding a bit of code to a content creator’s website, include Movie pins and Product pins, for example.
Not only does having an understanding of what sort of data a pin includes help Pinterest users searching and browsing the site, it can also help the network better target the right pin to the right person by matching up a user’s interests with Pinterest content. This is something the company has been slowly working its way up to through the addition of personalization capabilities, and now, Promoted Pins, Pinterest’s first ad product, currently in beta and expected to go public later this year.
Recipe search is arriving on the web now, and will come to mobile soon, says Pinterest.
Pinterest Marketing Platform Ahalogy Scores $3 Million Series A By Helping Brands With Content & Optimizations
With Pinterest poised to take its first ad product, Promoted Pins, public, retailers and brands that have so far been testing the waters on the social pinboard are now beginning to look more seriously into optimizing their activity on the site. One company that has been helping in that area is Ahalogy, a Pinterest marketing platform which is today announcing $3.1 million in Series A funding, co-led by Hyde Park Venture Partners and Origin Ventures.
Also participating in the round were CincyTech, North Coast Angel Fund, and Vine Street Ventures. In addition, the round will see Ahalogy gaining two new board members: Origin Ventures’ Brent Hill, previously an exec at Twitter, Google and Feedburner, and Tim Kopp, former CMO at ExactTarget, and exec at Procter & Gamble and The Coca-Cola Company.
From Fashion Startup To Pinterest Platform Maker
First launched in fall 2012, Ahalogy co-founder and President Bob Gilbreath has an extensive history working with brands, and a practical understanding of their marketing needs.
Before Ahalogy, he worked at P&G, later joining digital agency Bridge Worldwide, which was sold to WPP. Within WPP, the Bridge team put together digital interactions agency Possible Worldwide, where he remained for a year as Chief Strategy Officer, before moving into the world of investing at Cincinnati-based CincyTech (now also an Ahalogy investor).
While there, Gilbreath met up with his Ahalogy co-founder Michael Wohlschlaeger, who had gone through the Brandery accelerator and was working on an idea called StyleZEN, a “Pandora for fashion,” so to speak. Gilbreath invested in the startup, and joined the board, but the startup struggled to drive traffic.
Wohlschlaeger experimented with Facebook and Google to increase traffic, but nothing was working, Gilbreath explains. “Out of desperation, he began doing rapid experimentation on Pinterest, and ended up developing a methodology and writing some tools that led to some amazing growth and traffic from Pinterest,” Gilbreath says. “We sort of looked at this and said, ‘I think you just discovered what Pinterest can do at scale,’” he recalls.
They realized that the technology itself had more potential than StyleZEN did, and decided to form a company that would place it in front of the thousands of brands waking up to the realization that Pinterest now mattered. That company, of course, became Ahalogy.
How Ahalogy Works
Today, Ahalogy works with a little over two dozen brands, including names like Kellogg’s, Townhouse, Eggo, Rice Krispies, Kraft, other P&G brands, Gap, Piperlime, Frontgate, Grandin Road, and more. Gilbreath explains that while other firms may have hundreds of clients, Ahalogy goes deep with a smaller number – they even turn down customers when they don’t feel that they would benefit from the optimization and marketing assistance Ahalogy currently offers.
Another key difference between Ahalogy and competing firms is the business model: it’s not a social media software platform sold on a subscription basis (SaaS).
“To be honest – I know this from being there – marketers don’t have more time. They don’t have time to be experts on any one platform,” says Gilbreath. And if they don’t end up actually using the software, then renewals can become a challenge. Plus, he adds, brands don’t like a monthly fee type of model because it comes out of their cost center budget, rather than their media budget, and it’s disconnected from real-world performance.
So Ahalogy is a pay-per-performance model instead. The company works with its clients to source and optimize their content, uses a scheduling algorithm that helps to place pins at the right time, and works with brands as to what should happen when consumers then click through from the pin to the website. (Typically, they show an interstitial which prompts the user to convert to a follow, or take some other action.)
A Content Network, Too
Another key thing Ahalogy has developed is a content network. Because gaining visibility on Pinterest means posting more than a pin per day and hoping for the best, the company has developed a content network to provide brands’ with things that they can pin in order to promote themselves on Pinterest. The network includes a variety of bloggers, like those covering fashion, food and recipes, or other popular Pinterest categories, plus larger groups like StyleCaster, and more. These content creators were the original beta testers for Ahalogy’s tools, and have agreed to allow the brands to use their content and images for free in exchange for access to the traffic-boosting Ahalogy technology platform.
With the content in hand, and the marketing optimization technology from Ahalogy that helps drive traffic to the brands’ own sites, Ahalogy is now seeing a million-plus run rate, says Gilbreath, with pricing that’s at a minimum in the $5,000-10,000 range. In return, brands see 80% re-pin rates, and 1-2% average click-throughs.
With the additional funding, Ahalogy will grow its 23-person team, and will focus on expanding its efforts on Pinterest when Promoted Pins goes live. It will also expand its content network to assist with brands’ needs on other social networks, as well, including Facebook and Instagram.
“We have over a thousand content creators, 140,000 pieces of content with images, all categorized by topics..and the analytics as to what’s working right now,” Gilbreath notes. “We’re figuring out ways to take the great content that’s out there, scoring it on quality, then giving the brands the flexibility to share that in many ways,” he says.
You may soon be pinning GIFs alongside your favorite meals and workout photos.
A new Pinterest feature available to select pinners allows them to play GIFs within the platform, a feature that was previously unavailable.
See also: 15 Stylish Ladies to Follow on Pinterest
After uploading a GIF to a pinboard, users can play or pause the GIF by clicking a small “play” button in the lower left-hand corner of the image. Previously, when users uploaded GIFs to Pinterest, they appeared as still images unless users followed the link back to the GIF’s original source outside of the platform.
A Pinterest spokesperson has confirmed that the company is testing out the new feature. Read more…
Why bother with a gift registry or wish list, when you can just pin favorite products to a Pinterest board? With newly launched iPhone app LoveList, you can do just that, even when you’re out shopping in the real world. The app lets you quickly expand your Pinterest collections with products you find on store shelves, simply by scanning an item’s UPC barcode.
The app itself is a side project created by Cincinnati-based Brad Mahler, currently a creative director at global digital ad agency Possible, and Mark Tholking, an independent iOS developer located in San Diego, who previously co-founded BigSho. The two have known each other for nearly a decade, after meeting through the same agency where Mahler still works.
The idea for LoveList, explains Mahler, was prompted by his own shopping trip out in the real world.
“My fiancée and I were shopping and we found an item we wanted to add to our Amazon registry,” he says. “We keep a Pinterest board for that purpose, so as my fiancée was pinning it she asked, ‘why can’t I just scan this to Pin it?’” Mahler knew this would be possible, but no one had built a tool that made that easy to do yet. (Pinterest’s own app lets you pin places, photos or links, but not actual products via barcode scans.)
Mahler adds that he believes Pinterest works best when pinned products are actually available for purchase. As it turns out, this has been a problem with Pinterest for some time. According to mobile commerce vendor Branding Brand, almost 60 percent of Pinterest traffic to retailers’ sites during the 2013 holidays came from those in search of a product that doesn’t exist anymore. And this figure has been over 50 percent since the service launched. Of course, pinning real-world items to Pinterest doesn’t necessarily solve that problem. Eventually, those items could also disappear while Pinterest continues to recycle their links.
About The App
Mahler says they built the LoveList app quickly. It went from an idea to proof-of-concept prototype in a day, and not too much later, it went live in the App Store.
Not surprisingly then, the app is exceedingly simple. Similar to how you can use Amazon’s app to scan items and add them to a wish list, LoveList also lets you scan barcodes while out and about. That’s all it does, too, which means it takes fewer taps to do so than with Amazon’s own flagship application. You just scan, tap the board you want to pin the item to, and you’re done.
Currently, the app is only connected to Amazon’s own product database, which, while large of course, is still limited. But Mahler says they want to quickly put LoveList in the hands of users, and hopes to add support for large and small individual retailers in the future, including those with online stores.
For now, the app is a paid download at $0.99, but they’re considering an affiliate model and retailer partnerships further down the road.
LoveList is certainly a useful tool to have on hand while shopping, but until it expands beyond Amazon.com products, it may not be worth moving away from Amazon’s own wish listing feature just yet. (Unless you’re heavily into Pinterest, or never use Amazon wish lists, perhaps). Plus, Pinterest could also just as easily add a barcode-scanning function to their own app if such a behavior proves to be popular, which could be a problem for LoveList if it doesn’t grow its feature set to offer more than product scanning.
LoveList is available here on iTunes ($0.99). Below, a quick demo video. (And thank you for not choosing that cloying Apple-esque music everyone is using now.)
A simple Graph Search query for “People who work at We Heart It” returns hundreds of results, many of them young females with titles like “Boss,” “Heartbreaker,” and even “Chief Executive Officer,” all claiming to work at the 2-year-old startup.
See also: 10 Hot Social Networks to Watch
This list is not the actual staff roster from the San Francisco-based social network. In fact, We Heart It has only 18 employees. Instead, these are the platform’s loyal users, and the counterfeit job titles somewhat baffle, but ultimately please, the startup’s actual CEO, Ranah Edelin Read more…