Philip Ellis
News & Views
Pinterest introduces autoplay video ads

After a year-long test period, Pinterest is introducing autoplay video — just in time for ad buying season. Universal Pictures, Visa, Adidas and Cheetos are among the first brands to sign up, and they’re already enjoying positive results. Universal saw a 20 percent increase in intent to see the comedy Girls Trip after targeting women planning their weekend activities, while Cheetos saw 51 percent growth in purchase intent among its target demographic.

Pinterest currently makes 100 percent of its revenue from advertisers, and with this year’s earnings expected to reach $500 million (up from $300 million in 2016), video advertising may well have a significant role to play.

The company has been trialling promoted videos with brands since August 2016; the most recent iteration places autoplay videos directly into the user’s feed and search results. This is a method favored by Facebook, although the viewability standards of that network’s autoplay content have faced criticism by third party measurement firms. Pinterest is hoping to avoid the same issues by making third party metrics a part of its video offering from day one, via partnerships with Nielsen and Moat — a move which echoes a similar decision from Snapchat earlier this month and indicates the growing necessity of impartial measurement.

“One of the unique differentiations for video on Pinterest was that it’s not only about inspiration, but it also helps people do things,” says product lead Mike Bidgoli. “Obviously the format moved to autoplay, which made it easier for advertisers to be able to buy and measure the same way that they are with everything else. The overarching point is that we wanted video to have third-party measurement from the get-go…. We’re going to continue to add more third-party measurement providers—the goal is we want this to be verified by the broader ecosystem [and built] the way that video buyers want to buy,”

Pinterest distanced itself from rival platforms such as Facebook earlier this year by announcing its intention to remove the “Like” button, defining itself as a place for “visual discovery” rather than a social network. It makes a kind of sense, then, that Pinterest has fewer strict guidelines than Facebook around what kind of content advertisers create for the platform. There is no limit on video length yet, for instance, unlike Instagram and Snapchat (and Facebook, which encourages advertisers to front-load content).

That said, Pinterest aren’t flying blind; their strategy is informed by a wealth of internal data. 75 per cent of Pinterest users say they are likely to watch videos with topics that interest them (compared to just 55 per cent on other platforms), while 80 per cent say that watching Pinterest videos helps them learn how to do new things.

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