Pinterest

Instagram Shopping gets personalized Explore channel, Stories tags

Posted by | Advertising Tech, Apps, eCommerce, instagram, Instagram Explore, Instagram Shopping, Instagram Stories, Mobile, Pinterest, Social | No Comments

Instagram is embracing its true identity as a mail-order catalog. The question will be how much power merchants will give Instagram after seeing what its parent Facebook did to news outlets that relied on it. In a move that could pit it against Pinterest and Wish, Instagram is launching Shopping features across its app to let people discover and consider possible purchases before clicking through to check out on the merchant’s website.

Today, Instagram Explore is getting a personalized Shopping channel of items it thinks you’ll want most. And it’s expanding its Shopping tags for Instagram Stories to all viewers worldwide after a limited test in June, and it’s allowing brands in 46 countries to add the shopping bag icon to Stories that users can click through to buy what they saw.

Instagram clearly wants to graduate from where people get ideas for things to purchase to being a measurable gateway to their spending. 90 million people already tap its Shopping tags each month, it announced today. The new features could soak up more user attention and lead them to see more ads. But perhaps more importantly, demonstrating that Instagram can boost retail business’ sales for free through Stories and Explore could whet their appetite to buy Instagram ads to amplify their reach and juice the conversion channel. With 25 million businesses on Instagram but only 2 million advertisers, the app has room to massively increase its revenue.

For now Instagram is maintaining its “no comment” regarding whether it’s working on a standalone Instagram Shopping app as per a report from The Verge last month.  Instagram first launched its Shopping tags for feeds in 2016. It still points users out to merchant sites for the final payment step, though, in part because retailers want to control their relationships with customers. But long-term, allowing businesses to opt in to offering in-Instagram checkout could shorten the funnel and get more users actually buying.

Shopping joins the For You, Art, Beauty, Sports, Fashion and other topic channels that launched in Explore in June. The Explore algorithm will show you shopping-tagged posts from businesses you follow and ones you might like based on who you follow and what shopping content engages you. This marks the first time you can view a dedicated shopping space inside of Instagram, and it could become a bottomless well of browsing for those in need of some retail therapy.

With Shopping Stickers, brands can choose to add one per story and customize the color to match their photo or video. A tap opens the product details page, and another sends them to the merchant’s site. Businesses will be able to see the number of taps on their Shopping sticker, and how many people tapped through to their website. Partnerships with Shopify (500,000+ merchants) and BigCommerce (60,000+ merchants) will make it easy for retailers of all sizes to use Instagram’s Shopping Stickers. 

What about bringing Shopping to IGTV? A company spokesperson tells me, “IGTV and live video present interesting opportunities for brands to connect more closely with their customers, but we have no plans to bring shopping tools to those surfaces right now.”

For now, the new shopping features feel like a gift to merchants hoping to boost sales. But so did the surge of referral traffic Facebook sent to news publishers a few years ago. Those outlets soon grew dependent on Facebook, changed their news room staffing and content strategies to chase this traffic, and now find themselves in dire straights after Facebook cut off the traffic fire hose as it refocuses on friends and family content.

Retail merchants shouldn’t take the same bait. Instagram Shopping might be a nice bonus, but just how much it prioritizes the feature and spotlights the Explore channel are entirely under its control. Merchants should still work to develop an unmediated relationship directly with their customers, encouraging them to bookmark their sites or sign up for newsletters. Instagram’s favor could disappear with a change to its algorithm, and retailers must always be ready to stand on their own two feet.

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Pinterest is adding a way for users to collaborate on boards

Posted by | Mobile, Pinterest, Startups | No Comments

Pinterest is trying to further tap its popularity as a place to plan events, this time adding ways for users to collaborate across boards that are baked directly into the app.

Group boards will have their own designated feed, where users will be able to communicate with others collaborating on that board and also get updates on new member additions or added pins. There are also the other typical social structures you’d expect on an app these days, including @-mentions or liking comments. It’s another step to get people onto Pinterest and sticking around as they look to plan events, and create more ways to make the platform more and more sticky. It’s also another quality-of-life improvement that Pinterest seems to have needed for quite some time.

It’s those kinds of events — weddings, parties and others — that propelled Pinterest initially to become one of the larger social networks in the early 2010s. The company late last year said it had more than 200 million monthly active users, which while small compared to the likes of Instagram or Facebook, serves as a hub for a different kind of user behavior than you might find on those other platforms. The majority of the content on Pinterest is high-resolution products from businesses, where people will search for or save those products as they look to plan future life events.

Pinterest has tried to position itself as one of the best ways to discover new ideas, whether that’s stumbling upon something in a primary feed or finding something through searching. Over time, it’s added more and more tools to try to get people to come back more regularly, and if it continues to improve those recommendation engines, it can continue to run that feedback loop and keep users more and more attached to the platform. Adding a sort of light social pressure from friends that are sharing ideas and looking for feedback is one way to do that, in addition to it generally being useful.

All that is good for its pitch to advertisers as well. Pinterest, in addition to trying to cater to that unique kind of user behavior, is also trying to sell itself to advertisers as a platform where they can reach potential customers through ways they wouldn’t be able to with primary advertising channels like Facebook or Google. By making the platform more sticky, it can go back to those advertisers and offer them better engagement metrics and show that users stick around and are paying closer attention to content on Pinterest, which can in turn drive that additional value to advertisers.

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Pinterest is slowly rolling out its automated shopping ads to more marketers

Posted by | advertising, Apps, Mobile, Pinterest, Social, Startups | No Comments

Pinterest is looking to continue to increase its portfolio of ads, though sometimes that can take a little while to see the light of day — and that includes a new-ish tool called Shopping Ads that’s slowly getting opened to more marketers and advertisers.

Getting new ad formats is important for a smaller company looking to build out an advertising business, as it has to show potential advertisers it can offer an array of tools to play with as they experiment with that service. The company said today that it’s expanding those shopping ad tools to hundreds of additional advertisers after launching a pilot program last year as it looks to continue to ramp up that tool. Pinterest has to be able to convince marketers that it should be a mainstay advertising purchase alongside Facebook and Google, which are able to routinely show returns in value for their advertising spend.

Shopping ads automatically create promoted pins from an existing product feed for a retailer. That means it’s basically one less thing for retailers to worry about as they add more and more content to the service. Most of Pinterest’s content online is business content as users share products they might be interested in one day buying or already own. As Pinterest gets more and more data on this, they’ll have a better handle on what ads work best, and hope that businesses will hand off the process in full to something more automated.

Pinterest hopes to capture that routine user behavior of planning what they want to do next, whether that’s an outfit to wear that day or some kind of major event or purchase down the line. Getting a hold of those users in the moment they might be interested in a new product is key to the company’s pitch to advertisers. You can more or less consider this a continued test as the company starts to slowly give the tool to the advertisers it works with before it becomes generally available. If it works, it could probably end up down the line in the hands of all advertisers, which could help for small- to medium-sized businesses without a lot of experience build out their early marketing campaigns.

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Clarifai rolls out an on-premise visual search tool for businesses

Posted by | Clarifai, Enterprise, Google, Matt Zeiler, Mobile, Pinterest, Startups, TC | No Comments

 Clarifai has traditionally been known as a web-based visual search tool that developers can integrate into their services. But as more and more businesses start to get onto the service, with their own specific demands — like getting them in-house — the New York-based startup has to grow up a bit.
Today, the company is starting a few early steps to do just that. After raising $30… Read More

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Pinterest hires former Square and Google exec Francoise Brougher as its first COO

Posted by | Francoise Brougher, Google, Mobile, Pinterest, Square, Startups, TC | No Comments

 Pinterest today is adding another executive to its upper c-suite with the hire of Francoise Brougher, who was most recently business lead at Square and prior to that VP of SMB global sales and operations at Google, as its first chief operating officer. Both of those previous positions are probably going to be of particular interest to Pinterest, as someone with Brougher’s experience… Read More

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Pinterest will finally let you rearrange your pins

Posted by | Mobile, Pinterest, Startups, TC, very good things | No Comments

 Good morning and happy Wednesday, everyone! Here is a thing that falls under Today In Very Good Things: Pinterest is going to, finally, finally, let you move pins around on your boards.
This seems really small and trivial but, really, this is one of the biggest quality of life improvements to the service that I’ve seen (and probably many others) in many months now. Pinterest has been… Read More

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Pinterest hires a new head of computer vision

Posted by | Apps, Chuck Rosenberg, Mobile, Personnel, Pinterest, Startups, TC, visual search | No Comments

 As Pinterest increasingly tries to sell itself as a startup specialized in computer vision that it plugs into visual discovery, it’s continuing to pick up additional pieces to help continue to build that out. Today, the company said it is hiring former Google computer vision research lead Chuck Rosenberg. Read More

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Pinterest integrates deeper with Facebook with a new bot and messenger extension

Posted by | Apps, facebook messenger, Mobile, Pinterest, Startups, TC | No Comments

 As Pinterest looks to further expand beyond just the audience you’d expect to use it, it’s going to have to start chasing down users and meet them on different territories — and that includes messaging apps. So today Pinterest is launching a pair of updates that is going to help it tap into that audience of people that are sharing content on Facebook Messenger. Read More

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Pinterest Lens now gives users a way to figure out their outfits with the clothes in their closet

Posted by | camera+, lens, Mobile, Pinterest, Startups, TC, visual search | No Comments

 Looking for what to wear is one of the bigger use cases on Pinterest, but as the company looks to make the process of getting the right content to users more seamless, it’s been increasingly focusing on its interface with the real world with the camera. Now the company is going a step further by letting users tap the camera’s visual search technology with clothes that are already… Read More

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