Pinterest is losing to Snapchat in the battle for digital ad dollars

Pinterest versus Snapchat
Pinterest versus Snapchat
Image: AP Photo/Jeff Chiu
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Snapchat and Pinterest are two of the hottest new social media apps. In their quest for revenue, they’ve become rivals.

Pinterest recently poached Snapchat’s advertising analyst expert Gunnard Johnson, a former Googler who was at Snapchat for a mere five months. He will be the head of measurement science and insights at Pinterest, and will lead a team of 12 focused on better understanding Pinterest’s audience and provide better metrics for advertisers, according to Fortune.

The hire underscores the fight for digital advertising dollars between the two companies. On paper, the two social media startups couldn’t be more different. Pinterest, valued at $11 billion, is a digital scrapbook that lets you “pin” content for later—whether it be recipes, clothing, or hairstyles. Its has 100 million monthly active users as of September 2015 who are predominantly women. Snapchat has a reported 150 million daily active users who use the photo and video messaging service; the majority of them are young people.

But in the ad world, they’re fighting for the same spending. And it looks like Snapchat is winning. A March 2016 online marketing survey conducted RBC Capital Markets shows that advertisers were interested in both Snapchat and Pinterest, but Snapchat passed Pinterest for the first time. “A record high 45% of respondents indicated an interest in advertising on SnapChat…impressive,” the report wrote.

The differentiator may be the sites’ advertising strategy. Pinterest powers its ads via its users’ interest in a particular item. It creates sponsored pins and makes items that are pinned available for purchase through a “buy” button. Buy buttons are good ideas that haven’t taken off; Facebook and Twitter have failed to make them work to drive revenue.

Snapchat is capitalizing on its youthful core user base to create sponsored filters, or Lenses. It’s also inserting vertical video advertisements inside its Discover feature, a product where media companies like Vice and Mashable post video content.