Over the years, the field of search marketers has expanded enormously. Next to the traditional search networks Google and Bing, there is an increasing number of options for search marketers to claim visibility to the public, such as marketplaces and YouTube. At the same time we experience an increase in budgets for branding purposes within paid search. Hein van der Honing, Head of Search at Greenhouse, stated early on: "Search currently is (and should) be categorised mainly as a performance channel. When pursuing awareness, this is generally and more efficiently done through other channels. These other channels contribute to targeting people through search elsewhere in the customer life-cycle. However, search is becoming more conversational and mature, which means we are increasingly finding opportunities to tie in to more awareness-driven campaigns, even within a performance-driven channel like search. Creating awareness from search requires a different approach from both a search marketer as well as a brand marketer. Although demand for these kinds of campaigns is increasing, many are still missing out on this opportunity. Since search is present in every part of our daily lives, it should also be part of every campaign.”
A platform that seamlessly matches both these trends is the inspirational platform Pinterest. The traditional search landscape rapidly evolves due to innovations such as voice search and visual search. Pinterest could perfectly fit in this evolving landscape. However, this might require an adjustment in the fundamental way of thinking of today’s search marketers.
Pinterest Search Advertising
As is usually the case with successful platforms, Pinterest offers the opportunity for advertisers to advertise on their platform. This started with social advertising based on interests and was later extended with search advertising, in which advertisers are able to show ads around search queries by Pinterest users. It should be mentioned that search advertising isn’t available yet in the Netherlands. At this moment Pinterest is testing search advertising in France, which is probably the last stop before the Netherlands. However, it seems to be a matter of time before search marketers could go completely nuts within the visual platform.
Probably the biggest pitfall for a successful use of Pinterest within the complete media mix, is the search marketer himself. Search marketers grew up with performance imprinted in their train of thought. KPI’s such as CPA and ROAS calculated from pure sales have penetrated the thinking of search marketers and has become a fundamental way of thinking. A search ad without a clear call-to-action (preferably in as many headlines and descriptions as possible) is almost unimaginable. Screaming terms such as ‘Order Now’, ‘Buy Today’ and ‘Shop Now’ should be eliminated from the search marketer’s system to transform Pinterest into a successful advertising platform. Why? Because Pinterest is about inspiration rather than capitalization.
But does the search marketer get enough freedom and trust from the client to use Pinterest Search Ads in a successful way? For years, lots of scientific research was published that stated that stronger brands outperform less strong brands based on sales growth, and that brands investing in brand growth (recognition, emotional connection and availability) outperform brands that act on short-term sales uplifts. However, this requires a long-term vision from clients as well, and this goes against the perception of search advertising being a pure performance channel. In my opinion, the success of Pinterest Search Ads relies on the ability of the search marketer to manage expectations. Discussing, developing and explaining brand metrics is at the heart of this process. Traditional performance-based metrics such as ROI and ROAS often do not fit well, so it’s the search marketers’ job to decide what metric does. Pinterest, and also many other tools, deliver various brand metrics like the average number of repins, total likes or average daily impressions. These metrics should be determined and evaluated. Subsequently the client needs to be educated to align expectations and goals in order to create successful search campaigns within Pinterest.
It won’t take long before the search madness will erupt within Pinterest. The platform will reach 3.5 billion users in the Netherlands in 2019 (+18% YoY), while other frequently used platforms such as Facebook and Snapchat are in heavy weather. Combined with the fact that as much as 97% of the searches on Pinterest are non-branded (which indicates a lack of brand preference), a perfect branding opportunity appears. However, please prevent sales-based pollution of the inspirational environment. If we succeed in this, the creative opportunities are almost endless. Exiting? For sure! Challenging? Really! The visual adventure is about to begin, let’s just board the inspirational train.