Pinterest is late in launching video ads, but will offer something a little bit different

Better late than never.
Better late than never.
Image: Pinterest
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Pinterest will finally begin serving its shopping-obsessed users video ads.

The social network’s “Promoted Video” model, announced today (Aug.17), is more nuanced than the autoplay videos offered by other platforms: A person is served an in-feed preview, which animates as they scroll. But the video will only load and play after the user chooses a close-up option. Below the ad, a visit button will drive traffic to the brand’s website. Additionally, brands can display six featured pins alongside their ad. “Featured Pins are not required and we will not charge for them. … [They] can be buyable pins [that let you buy things on Pinterest], link to product pages, help users shop the look, or offer related use cases,” the company told Quartz. 

While Facebook and Twitter encourage people to share moments from the past or the present, Pinterest is more forward looking. Users browse and “pin” images of things that they aspire to own, making it a natural place for ads and commerce. People bookmark everything from clothes and holiday destinations to wedding decorations. The company improves each user’s personalized feeds by tracking their activity. Over the years, Pinterest has introduced guided search, which helps users narrow down their queries, as well as the ability to identify and find products in pinned images.

With spending on video ads projected to keep soaring, a late entry shouldn’t hurt Pinterest too much. Its strong association with commerce will likely be enough to entice brands. Among Pinterest’s 100 million strong user base, 55% already view it as a shopping destination, according to a recent report by venture capitalist Mary Meeker. By comparison, only 12% of Facebook and Twitter users visit those platforms with shopping in mind. Kate Spade, Lionsgate and BareMinerals are among the first brands to run video ads on Pinterest.

Video is ”something we’ve under-invested in in the past, and we’re changing that,” Jon Kaplan, Pinterest’s head of sales, told Bloomberg. ”This is all part of a broader push from the company to make video a bigger part of the consumer and advertiser experience.” There was a 60% increase in videos on Pinterest, with workouts, home projects and hair & beauty tutorials topping the charts, the company said in a blog post earlier this month. The video ads are one of the ways Pinterest is letting experts tests its new native video player.