With a reported 450 million active users every month (MAUs), and a growing number of consumers that frequent the channel for product discovery, Pinterest has emerged as a powerful social platform for brands looking to diversify their paid social media mix. This makes sense when you consider that “shoppers on Pinterest spend 2x more per month than people on other platforms.”
In addition to exponentially growing its base—with notable increases in Gen Z, Millennial, and male users—and improving media sharing features, we’ve seen Pinterest make great strides in advertising capabilities for brands as well as strengthening its agency partnerships. In fact, 2022 was Pinterest’s best year for revenue and total active users to date, and this trend shows no sign of slowing.
In this guide, we dive into everything a brand should know about Pinterest ads: the different campaign types, targeting, creative, and some strategies from the experts.
“In recent years, Pinterest has taken leaps to improve their shopping capabilities and experience within the platform. These changes have resulted in more regular users, higher conversion intent, and more options for advertisers to attain new customers.”
— Dimond Gooden-Hilton, Associate Director of Paid Social at Tinuiti
Table of Contents
Since 2009, Pinterest has fostered an online gathering place for people seeking gift ideas, recipes, DIY projects, and general inspiration. With enhanced business features like product feeds and on-platform checkout, it has become an important sales and marketing channel for large and small retailers alike.
While 2020 was a tumultuous year for advertisers due in large part to the COVID-19 pandemic and iOS14+ impacts on signal loss, Pinterest has seen steadily impressive growth within their engaged user base since the second half of 2020. Many point to the positivity of Pinterest as a driving force for advertisers more heavily embracing the platform during the pandemic just a few short years ago.
As The Motley Fool noted at the time:
“What makes it stand out from competitors like Facebook and Twitter is that it is focused on the finer things in life while avoiding hot button issues like politics or news stories. This makes using Pinterest fun for users and “brand safe” for advertisers.”
Pinterest is specifically designed to encourage users to discover new products, explore projects, and uncover gift ideas. It’s a social marketplace where sharing and promoting products isn’t perceived as intrusive (as it can be on other social networks) — it’s actually encouraged.
Compound that with 72% of surveyed Pinners reporting that “Pinterest inspires them to shop when they aren’t actually looking for anything,” and 70% saying they “discover new products on Pinterest,” and you have a good case for your brand to be present and active on the platform.
Pinterest is Continuing to Grow in 2023
Tinuiti advertisers were among those leaning more heavily into Pinterest in 2022, with triple figure increases in adoption rates. After 2020, advertisers have become more open to exploring social platforms that historically took a backseat to Facebook and Instagram. As Facebook’s active user rate declines, consumers are becoming more engaged with other platforms, creating the perfect opportunity for brands to reach new audiences in innovative ways.
In the chart below we’ve highlighted advertisers’ year-over-year growth in adoption for Pinterest. Tinuiti client’s mirror this increase as we’ve seen an astounding 169% investment lift from 2021 to 2022 as Tinuiti advertisers have found success in the platform’s growing ecommerce capabilities.
Pinterest uses a unique system of Pins that users can save and review later.
Retailers and creators make Pins and users can then search through them and ‘Pin’ them to their profile.
Pinterest uses associated keywords and hashtags with these Pins to help customers find what they are searching for more easily. Here’s an overview of the different Pinterest Promoted Pins that you can create.
Idea Pins were launched in 2022, and are sometimes referred to as Story Pins. These Pins are designed to give Pinterest users not only inspiration, but information about how to act on that inspiration. These Pins can include up to 20 individual graphics, or take the form of a short video. Popular use cases for Idea Pins include tutorials, such as how to apply a certain makeup look or put together an outfit and accessories.
Idea Pins are packed with features aimed at increasing conversions. In addition to having the ability to tag users, you can employ unique text and graphic overlays, interactive stickers, and of course, use relevant hashtags to aid in content discovery. You can even add a voiceover and/or detail pages that outline things like the list of products used in a Pin.
Try on product Pins
As much as we all love online shopping, it can be difficult to determine how an outfit will actually look on our body, or what a makeup product looks like once applied to the skin. Enter Try on product Pins, a 2022 launch that has proven successful and popular with brands and users alike.
To use Try on product Pins, brands are required to have a Pinterest Business account and active product catalog, and work with a Pinterest account manager to create and activate.
Using their mobile phone’s camera, users can virtually ‘try on’ items that are featured in Try on product Pins, which leverage augmented reality to ‘apply’ products. In addition to makeup and clothes, common Try on product Pins include accessories and eyeglasses.
Pinterest Promoted Pins do exactly as their name implies, sending your products and the information provided for them directly to the potential customer to save. If another Pinner then repins the Pin (that was originally Promoted) from one of that user’s boards, the Promoted label is not carried over to the repins, which will be ‘free’ earned media.
Promoted Pins are similar to organic Pins, with the exception that retailers must pay to have them seen by more Pinterest users. Typically, these native ad units perform just as well, if not even better than organic Pins, expanding visibility to relevant search results, category feeds, and the home feed. Promoted Pins can take the form of a static image, or a video.
Brands can use Promoted Pins to:
- Raise brand awareness
- Promote engagement campaigns
- Drive traffic campaigns
Within Promoted Pins, you can have Standard Pins, but we recommend installing the Pixel and meta tag to create Rich Pins.
Rich Pins are an exciting free option for Pinterest advertising that is available to all Pinterest users. Rich Pins allow you to link metadata from your company’s web page directly to the Pin on Pinterest. Before you’ll be able to begin creating Rich Pins, you need to apply for them to ensure your data syncs properly.
Rich Pins are divided into several categories based on the type of metadata that are linked through it:
- Product Pins
- Article Pins
- Recipe Pins
Rich Pins allow for more information to be displayed on Pinterest, and when you make any changes to metadata on your website, that will immediately be updated on the Pin.
Shoppable Product Pins
To make it even easier for consumers to surface Pins showcasing purchasable goods while browsing, Pinterest added a ‘Shop’ tab in April 2020. This allows users to easily hone in on in-stock items they can purchase now, or Pin for later, with the ‘Shop’ tab being automatically added to boards that include shoppable items pulled from your product catalog. Merchants can also transform their Shop tab into a visually appealing storefront. This helps merchants feature those in-stock products in a more organized, deliberate way.
This popular ad type is comprised of one large video or image accompanied by 3 additional images. Once a user clicks into a Collection Ad, they will be shown up to 24 images that you have included on the ad detail page. Collection Ads are primarily feed-based, with the secondary images typically being pulled in from the product feed.
Collection Ads give brands and advertisers a chance to spotlight the most important, eye-catching elements of their product lineup, providing mobile users with more detailed information and imagery once they click through. Similar to a product detail page on your website, it can be beneficial to include a variety of image types, including close-ups on features of unique details, and lifestyle shots.
Collection Ads can be created automatically by Pinterest, or created manually.
Pinterest Carousel Ads
Similar to product carousels on ecommerce websites, Pinterest’s Carousel Ads give users the opportunity to swipe through a series of up to 5 photos on both mobile and desktop devices. These look similar to organic Pins, with a series of dots beneath letting users know there are more images in the carousel, much like on other digital platforms.
For the different images you’ll include for viewers to swipe through, each is independent, and can contain a unique title, description, and landing page link.
Pinterest Ad Groups
Rather than spreading your budget across different ad sets/ad groups and creative, advertisers can focus more on performance than allocating specific budgets. With the exception of Video View campaigns, which allow you to select ad set budgets, all Pinterest advertising options run on a master Campaign Budget.
While you can’t set budget for most campaigns at the ad set level, there are still other advantages to grouping similar or complementary ads. By grouping Promoted Pins together advertisers can more easily test their marketing efforts.
The cost per click for Pinterest ads naturally varies, with Pinterest generally being a more affordable social media advertising platform than other popular players, including Meta’s Facebook and Instagram. You’ll decide on a maximum daily or lifetime budget for your campaign, and be able to choose from two ad group bidding models: Custom Bids and Automatic Bids.
Custom Bids: Advertiser sets the maximum bid they are willing to pay per campaign action. Minimum bids are set for each ad format. You will not necessarily pay your maximum for each click—this is simply the ceiling of what you’re willing to pay if circumstances dictate that price.
Automatic Bids: When leveraging Automatic Bids, you give the reins to Pinterest to automatically adjust your bids to give you the best exposure possible considering real-time conditions.
Pinterest users are browsing with a discovery mindset, hoping to find products, crafts, and ideas to implement within their lives. These users expect to see copy and context within the creative images they view on-site. Let’s unpack 8 creative best practices to keep your brand on-brand for Pinterest…
1. Stay On-Brand with Your Creative
Your brand should always be accurately represented and given appropriate focus, including ensuring you include your logo on your images and within your videos. This will help increase brand awareness, and eliminate any content attribution issues.
2. Pay Attention to Specs for Each Ad Type
As with all platforms, it’s key to ensure you provide Pinterest with appropriately sized images, video, and copy. Below we dive into the specs for different Pinterest ad types…
An aspect ratio of 9:16 is recommended for Idea Pins, with an ideal size of 1080×1920 for “full-bleed” images and videos. Acceptable image formats include .JPG, .PNG, .BMP, .WEBP and .TIFF, with image sizes up to 20MB each. Accepted video formats include .MP4, .MOV, and .M4V, with H.264 or H.265 encoding and a recommended 1GB file size.
Idea Pin videos can contain up to 20 video clips, with each video being 3-60 seconds in length. The titles for Idea Pin images and videos can be up to 100 characters in length; text boxes can contain up to 250 characters.
Featured images for Collection Ads are accepted in .JPG or .PNG formats, and should be 10MB or smaller in size. If you’ll be working with a featured video instead of a featured image, accepted formats include .MP4, .M4V and .MOV with H.264 or H.265 encoding.
Videos can be up to 2GB in size, and range in length from a minimum of 4 seconds to 15 minutes. Hero images have a required aspect ratio of 1:1 or 2:3, with secondary creative accepted in the same aspect ratios; 1:1 is recommended for secondary creative “to best control how they appear in people’s feeds.”
The additional images you’ll add to Collection Ads follow the same format and aspect ratio recommendations as featured images, with the option to add between 3 and 24 total additional images. Ad copy can be up to 100 characters for titles, and up to 500 characters for descriptions. Note that the description is not shown in paid ads, only organic Collection Pins viewed up close, but does factor into the algorithm.
Carousel ads can contain between 2 and 5 images, with each image having a maximum size of 20MB. Images can be .JPG or .PNG with an aspect ratio of 1:1 or 2:3. Ad copy can be up to 100 characters for titles, and up to 500 characters for descriptions.
Promoted Pin Ad Specs
An aspect ratio of 2:3 is recommended for Promoted Pin images, with acceptable formats including .JPG and .PNG files up to 20MB in size (desktop) and 32MB in size (in-app). Titles can be up to 100 characters, with descriptions having a 500-character limit.
For Promoted Video Pins, files can be up to 2GB in size in MP4 or MOV formats. Videos can range in length from 4 seconds to 15 minutes. It’s important to ensure your video is accessible and understandable for viewers who watch with the sound turned off. Video descriptions can be up to 500 characters long.
Standard Width Video Ad Specs
Accepted standard video ad formats include .MP4, .MOV or .M4V, with H.264 or H.265 encoding and a file size limit of 2GB. The recommended aspect ratio is 1:1, 2:3, or 9:16, with videos required to be shorter than 1:2, and taller than 1.91:1. Videos can range in length from 4 seconds to 15 minutes, with titles up to 100 characters, and descriptions up to 500 characters.
As noted by Pinterest, “descriptions do not appear for ads when viewed up close.” That said, they do help determine “relevance for delivery” for the Pinterest algorithm.
Max Width Video Ad Specs
Accepted file types for Max Width video ads include .MP4, .MOV or .M4V, with H.264 or H.265 encoding and a file size limit of 2GB. Video length can range from 4 seconds to 15 minutes, with an aspect ratio of 1:1 or 16:9, titles up to 100 characters, and descriptions up to 500 characters. “Note that max. Width videos can’t exceed the height of a 1:1 aspect ratio.”
3. Optimize Text Placement & Phrasing
Advertisers are recommended to include text overlays with actionable callouts within creative assets to catch users’ attention. Use text sparingly but deliberately, leveraging descriptions to add further context.
Examples of some short text overlays you might consider include: Let’s Celebrate, Yay for Summer, Shop New Styles, Just Add Accessories, etc.
4. Implement Creative Videos in Your Pinterest Campaigns
The strategic development and implementation of video is only growing across Pinterest and many other platforms, and the options and capabilities are growing along with it. As Search Engine Land land shared in February 2023, from Pinterest CEO Bill Ready, video is key in reaching Gen Z:
“We’re building an experience that resonates with this audience, specifically around video. In fact, nearly half of all new videos pinned in Q4 were from Gen Z users.”
“Over the long term, we also want to make every pin shoppable. To that end, we’re making video content on Pinterest more actionable using the same playbook we applied to static images. Over the course of this year, we will be deploying our computer-vision technology across our video corpus to find products and videos and make them shoppable.”
Combining short video clips with text overlays—or even using GIFS—can be a great way to compel your audience to build awareness and clickthrough to your landing pages.
We recommend keeping your videos playful and product-focused because Pinterest users are expecting to discover and potentially buy items they are interested in.
Videos Pins can be leveraged in both Standard and Max Width formats. Max Width Video ads rolled out in 2019 and dominate the viewer’s feed by spanning across both columns of their grid. Max Width Video is seeing strong success in driving increased brand awareness and engagement rates.
5. Don’t Have a Creative Team? Try the Pin Builder Tool & Creative Resources
For advertisers that don’t have a design team dedicated to Pinterest ads, Pinterest’s Pin Builder tool can be a great way to make light edits before publishing your Pins online. In addition to the Pin Builder Tool, the platform also connects brands with Pinterest-preferred creative developers that create assets specifically made to succeed on the platform; ensuring lack of creative is not a roadblock in launching on Pinterest!
Source: Georgia @ Pinterest UK
“To bridge the gap across additional social platforms Pinterest has implemented a Pin Builder Tool within the build flow on their UI. This tool provides the ability to crop images, and add logos and text with a variety of colors, fonts, and size options.”
— Jennifer Porch, Paid Social Senior Manager at Tinuiti
“Taking advantage of this tool makes repurposing creative from other platforms to fit what Pinterest users expect to see simple and smooth.”
6. Use a Clear & Concise Call to Action
Sometimes we forget the simplest rules of marketing, including making it very clear what action we want users to take. Use those precious seconds your ad is in view to entice them with eye-catching imagery and a clear call to action or other important element.
For example, if your ad features something that will be available for purchase at a specific date or time, include that prominently in the ad. Some examples include: New Color Dropped!, Buy Now, Shop it Here, Coming Next Week, Sign Up Now, Register for Free, Subscribe Today.
7. Invoke Feelings of Positivity & Inspiration
Pinterest can be thought of as social and shopping’s “happy place,” and that is central to how the platform operates and functions. People don’t rely on Pinterest for the latest news; they come there for the most unique ideas and inspirational Pins, boards, and how-tos. Stay true to Pinterest’s vibe in all your marketing messaging, giving users what they come to Pinterest for in both content and sentiment.
“Pinterest managed to wade through 2022’s wave of social media drama relatively unscathed thanks to its search and shopping-oriented nature. Avoiding conflict has kept it in the good graces of advertisers who are more wary than ever of where to place their shrinking budgets.”
— eMarketer, on the brand safety Pinterest offers
8. Keep Your Creative Fresh & Original
It’s perfectly fine to use some of the same images and videos you’ve already created and employed across your website and other channels, but you’ll want to be mindful of what’s already on Pinterest, and the overall freshness of what you’re sharing.
Make it a focus to regularly add brand new and ‘new to Pinterest’ images and videos that haven’t already been posted by you or another Pinterest user. Given their prominence as a source of inspiration, Pinterest prizes brand new content and creative that they and their users haven’t seen before.
Now that we’ve explored creative best practices for Pinterest ads themselves, let’s dive into some things you should keep in mind when crafting them.
1. Test Pinterest’s Various Ad Formats
To appeal to a wider range of Pinterest users, we recommend testing various ad formats. There will always be people who prefer one form of content over another, or even those who prefer certain types of content within differing categories. Certain ad types also work better for different initiatives, goals, and available creative assets.
For example, while some users would be more inclined to click on a static photo of a dress, others might prefer a short video showing how that dress moves when walking. Including Product Pins and Video Pins helps ensure you’re delivering interesting content in the preferred format, which can also help more of your Pins be seen thanks to controllable distribution.
2. Keep Relevance Top of Mind
It’s important to take advantage of Pinterest Trends as they apply to your brand, but don’t force anything! Pinterest and users understand the things that your brand would naturally be a part of or fall within, and posting non-relevant content doesn’t benefit you, users, or the Pinterest algorithm that is helping determine who to show your Pins and ads to.
This doesn’t mean that all your boards have to be purely commerce-driven. For example, if you are a brand that sells reusable water bottles, a relevant, non-sales related board could be top hiking destinations across the country. You could even encourage shoppers to share their own adventure pics featuring your product using a specific hashtag, and repin them to a board just for testimonials and your product being showcased ‘in the wild.’
3. Choose a Campaign Objective That Matches Your Goal
As always, it’s important to consider your goals first. Once you’ve honed in on exactly what you want your Pinterest advertising campaigns to achieve, you can map them to available Pinterest ad objectives, including:
- Brand awareness – Help introduce your brand to new people, and keep it top-of-mind for those who are already familiar with your brand
- Video views – If people watching and engaging with your video content is your top objective, mapping toward total video views is a strong option
- Consideration – Designed to reach shoppers a bit further down the funnel who are actively comparing different options
- Conversions – While conversions are often tied to purchases, they can also be downloads, subscriptions, or simply click throughs depending on your brand and goals
- Catalog sales – If the only needle you really need to move is the sales needle, focus on lower-funnel objectives that aim to close the deal
4. Use Interest and Keyword Targeting
After you’ve created Pins, you will have to select a method of targeting your audience…
- Keyword Targeting: Through keywords, you can reach customers searching for specific things associated with your product.
- Interest Targeting: Pinterest can be searched by customers by things they are interested in. This method is broader than keywords but can be effective if thoughtfully utilized.
- Actalike Audiences: For keyword targeting, there is an opportunity to hone in on seasonal keywords like ‘back to school,’ ‘holiday shopping,’ etc. To reach people whose interests and behaviors are similar to your customers, we recommend starting with broad actalikes that cast a wider net. Once you have enough data insights to measure how they perform, you can narrow your focus to what worked best.
- Pinterest Dynamic Creative: In 2021, Pinterest launched an “ad process that enables advertisers to automate the ad creation and targeting process for their campaigns based on individual user behavior.”
5. Retarget High Value Users with Relevant Content
Along with keywords and interests, advertisers using Pinterest can target users based on gender, language, devices, location, and more. Keep in mind that using more of these targeting options will increase Pinterest advertising costs.
- Customer List Targeting: This tool allows advertisers to target users through already existing customer lists. Advertisers can compare their existing customers to users on Pinterest.
- Visitor Retargeting: This feature allows advertisers to add conversion tags on their sites and track behaviors and movements in their existing customers. Data collected can then be used to provide appropriate content to the right users and more effectively focus ad spend.
- Look-A-Like Targeting: This method of targeting allows you to target users that behave similarly to your current audience, using already existing data to determine users most likely to be interested in your Pinterest advertisements.
- Pin Engagers: This gives advertisers the opportunity to deliver ads to visitors that have previously engaged with Pins from their website. Engagement types include Pin clicks, outbound clicks, Pins they saved or commented on, carousel card swipes, and Video Pin views.
You can also create Shopping Ads to dynamically retarget audiences using Pinterest’s product feed tool, known as Catalogs. Pinterest enhanced the Catalog feature with a “more intuitive interface” that makes it “faster and simpler for merchants to upload their catalogs and activate shopping ads, with faster Catalog feed ingestion, video as the main hero image in collections, collections as a new shopping ad format, and a new preferred scheduling tool that lets retailers upload all products to Pinterest on their own time.” This update also brought Catalogs and collections together “to make collections a shopping ad format.”
6. Experiment with Different Bidding Options
There are several different bidding strategies that you can use for your Pinterest ads, including an automated bidding option in Ads Manager and the Bulk Editor, which enables Pinterest to bid on your behalf. Here are two that we find work particularly well for brands selling on Pinterest.
As a higher funnel initiative, Pinterest’s Destination View optimizes to those users that not only click on Pins, but make it to the landing page URL. This allows advertisers to drive more qualified traffic to the site.
7. Guide Your Strategy with Pinterest Trends and Pinterest Predicts
Pinterest Trends and Pinterest Predicts provide opportunities for advertisers to keep up with the hottest current and up-and-coming topics, keeping a pulse on what your target audience wants to see now and next. Browsing Pinterest Trends is helpful for finding ways to react to trends in real-time, while the Pinterest Predicts roundup helps in proactively preparing for an emerging trend that might make sense for your business.
Some of Pinterest’s “top 27 emerging trends for 2023” include:
- Airy styles
- Gemini hair
- Sci-fi fits
- Fringe with benefits
- Vitamin seaweed
Think of how these and the other top predicted trends for 2023 are reflected in your offering, and design Pins to capitalize on them before the trend comes and goes!
8. Integrate Pinterest Ads with Other Social Campaigns
While it’s always important to consider the functions, goals, and audience of a given platform in crafting your strategy, Pinterest ads can and should be integrated with other social campaigns for the widest, most impactful reach.
Brands that already advertise and sell on Facebook know that there are serious advantages to diversifying their budget into other social channels, which is another reason Pinterest makes such an attractive choice.
Pinterest Ads offers marketers an opportunity to reach customers in the upper to mid-funnel capabilities with compelling inventory and improvements to its self-serve ad platform.
Now that you know which ad types are available and how to optimize them for performance, it’s time to get started!
- Create a Business Account — If you don’t already have a business account, you’ll start by creating one. You can also convert an existing personal account into a business account if needed. Once your business account is set-up, navigate to the Ads dropdown menu to Create an ad
- Choose your campaign objective — Different ad types are available depending on your primary goal. Overarching campaign objectives are broken out into a few primary options, including building awareness, driving consideration, and increased conversions
- Set your campaign budget — With your objective set, decide how much you’ll allocate to that campaign, and whether you’ll set a daily or lifetime budget. You’ll also dictate whether your ads will run on specific dates, or continuously
- Create an Ad group — To make budget adjustments, insight gathering, optimization, and reporting easier, group related ads together
- Choose your target audience — Next, you’ll decide which audiences you want to reach with your ads. Some popular options include behavioral targeting, keyword targeting, demographic targeting, and retargeting site visitors
- Design Pins & Pinterest Boards — Now it’s time to get creative! Keep the Pinterest ad specs and overall platform experience in mind, and get to work creating fresh Pins and adding them to relevant boards
- Use Pinterest SEO strategically — While descriptions within ads don’t appear when a user is browsing, along with the title they do greatly influence who your ads appear for. Be sure to mention appropriate keywords and interests within your organic Pin and ad descriptions to increase their visibility for the right audiences
- Monitor campaign performance — Pinterest Ads Manager offers valuable insights that help show you which campaigns are performing best with which audiences, and where adjustments could benefit your bottom line
As Tinuiti clients have leaned more heavily into Pinterest advertising, our teams have had increased opportunities to experiment with the many ad types and unique opportunities Pinterest offers. Let’s take a closer look at the top notch creative and campaign management that spelled Pinterest success for JOANN and Boston Proper.
The below 2 Pinterest creatives have been top performers in our Paid Social team’s lower-funnel conversion campaign (LAL website visitors targeting) for JOANN, with a focus on ROAS + CPA performance.
Performance stats and creative highlights that illustrate some of the best practices we’ve explored above include…
- The ad features a how-to for making fleece quilts and pillows, a relevant topic for JOANN customers that ties directly to their large fabric offering
- The ad further ties into the how-to nature with a “Learn More” CTA
- In addition to showcasing some of the available fleece patterns, the ad shows you what your items might look like once created, and underscores the value and importance of comfy bedding with a humorous text overlay
- The JOANN logo is highly visible in the ad without drawing attention away from the main messaging
- The “Explore Now” CTA makes sense for the ad as well as the content, which calls on people to get out in nature wearing clothes they create from JOANN’s cotton fabric collection
- The JOANN logo is in a consistent, highly visible location that maintains solid branding without drawing attention away from the primary messaging
“Imagery with single shots of models in statement pieces have been top performers. These photos are more likely to stand out within the Pinterest feed than images with 2 models or heavy text overlays. These 3 ads accounted for nearly half of total revenue. We’ve also found static ads have a 17x higher CTR and result in more than double the amount of revenue than video ads.”
— Alyssa Piciucco, Paid Social Strategist at Tinuiti
Pinterest advertising is becoming a more viable marketing channel each year, especially for brands that have an audience that frequents the platform for product discovery and ideas.
Ready to learn more about how advertising on Pinterest can benefit your brand? Contact us today to chat with an expert.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published by Greg Swan in April 2020 and has been regularly updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.
The Rise in Retail Media Networks
As LL Cool J might say, “Don’t call it a comeback. It’s been here for years.”
Paid advertising is alive and growing faster in different forms than any other marketing method.
Magna, a media research firm, and GroupM, a media agency, wrapped the year with their ad industry predictions – expect big growth for digital advertising in 2024, especially with the pending US presidential political season.
But the bigger, more unexpected news comes from the rise in retail media networks – a relative newcomer in the industry.
Watch CMI’s chief strategy advisor Robert Rose explain how these trends could affect marketers or keep reading for his thoughts:
GroupM expects digital advertising revenue in 2023 to conclude with a 5.8% or $889 billion increase – excluding political advertising. Magna believes ad revenue will tick up 5.5% this year and jump 7.2% in 2024. GroupM and Zenith say 2024 will see a more modest 4.8% growth.
Robert says that the feeling of an ad slump and other predictions of advertising’s demise in the modern economy don’t seem to be coming to pass, as paid advertising not only survived 2023 but will thrive in 2024.
What’s a retail media network?
On to the bigger news – the rise of retail media networks. Retail media networks, the smallest segment in these agencies’ and research firms’ evaluation, will be one of the fastest-growing and truly important digital advertising formats in 2024.
GroupM suggests the $119 billion expected to be spent in the networks this year and should grow by a whopping 8.3% in the coming year. Magna estimates $124 billion in ad revenue from retail media networks this year.
“Think about this for a moment. Retail media is now almost a quarter of the total spent on search advertising outside of China,” Robert points out.
You’re not alone if you aren’t familiar with retail media networks. A familiar vernacular in the B2C world, especially the consumer-packaged goods industry, retail media networks are an advertising segment you should now pay attention to.
Retail media networks are advertising platforms within the retailer’s network. It’s search advertising on retailers’ online stores. So, for example, if you spend money to advertise against product keywords on Amazon, Walmart, or Instacart, you use a retail media network.
But these ad-buying networks also exist on other digital media properties, from mini-sites to videos to content marketing hubs. They also exist on location through interactive kiosks and in-store screens. New formats are rising every day.
Retail media networks make sense. Retailers take advantage of their knowledge of customers, where and why they shop, and present offers and content relevant to their interests. The retailer uses their content as a media company would, knowing their customers trust them to provide valuable information.
Think about these 2 things in 2024
That brings Robert to two things he wants you to consider for 2024 and beyond. The first is a question: Why should you consider retail media networks for your products or services?
Advertising works because it connects to the idea of a brand. Retail media networks work deep into the buyer’s journey. They use the consumer’s presence in a store (online or brick-and-mortar) to cross-sell merchandise or become the chosen provider.
For example, Robert might advertise his Content Marketing Strategy book on Amazon’s retail network because he knows his customers seek business books. When they search for “content marketing,” his book would appear first.
However, retail media networks also work well because they create a brand halo effect. Robert might buy an ad for his book in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal because he knows their readers view those media outlets as reputable sources of information. He gains some trust by connecting his book to their media properties.
Smart marketing teams will recognize the power of the halo effect and create brand-level experiences on retail media networks. They will do so not because they seek an immediate customer but because they can connect their brand content experience to a trusted media network like Amazon, Nordstrom, eBay, etc.
The second thing Robert wants you to think about relates to the B2B opportunity. More retail media network opportunities for B2B brands are coming.
You can already buy into content syndication networks such as Netline, Business2Community, and others. But given the astronomical growth, for example, of Amazon’s B2B marketplace ($35 billion in 2023), Robert expects a similar trend of retail media networks to emerge on these types of platforms.
“If I were Adobe, Microsoft, Salesforce, HubSpot, or any brand with big content platforms, I’d look to monetize them by selling paid sponsorship of content (as advertising or sponsored content) on them,” Robert says.
As you think about creative ways to use your paid advertising spend, consider the retail media networks in 2024.
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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute
AI driving an exponential increase in marketing technology solutions
The martech landscape is expanding and AI is the prime driving force. That’s the topline news from the “Martech 2024” report released today. And, while that will get the headline, the report contains much more.
Since the release of the most recent Martech Landscape in May 2023, 2,042 new marketing technology tools have surfaced, bringing the total to 13,080 — an 18.5% increase. Of those, 1,498 (73%) were AI-based.
“But where did it land?” said Frans Riemersma of Martech Tribe during a joint video conference call with Scott Brinker of ChiefMartec and HubSpot. “And the usual suspect, of course, is content. But the truth is you can build an empire with all the genAI that has been surfacing — and by an empire, I mean, of course, a business.”
Content tools accounted for 34% of all the new AI tools, far ahead of video, the second-place category, which had only 4.85%. U.S. companies were responsible for 61% of these tools — not surprising given that most of the generative AI dynamos, like OpenAI, are based here. Next up was the U.K. at 5.7%, but third place was a big surprise: Iceland — with a population of 373,000 — launched 4.6% of all AI martech tools. That’s significantly ahead of fourth place India (3.5%), whose population is 1.4 billion and which has a significant tech industry.
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The global development of these tools shows the desire for solutions that natively understand the place they are being used.
“These regional products in their particular country…they’re fantastic,” said Brinker. “They’re loved, and part of it is because they understand the culture, they’ve got the right thing in the language, the support is in that language.”
Now that we’ve looked at the headline stuff, let’s take a deep dive into the fascinating body of the report.
The report: A deeper dive
Marketing technology “is a study in contradictions,” according to Brinker and Riemersma.
In the new report they embrace these contradictions, telling readers that, while they support “discipline and fiscal responsibility” in martech management, failure to innovate might mean “missing out on opportunities for competitive advantage.” By all means, edit your stack meticulously to ensure it meets business value use cases — but sure, spend 5-10% of your time playing with “cool” new tools that don’t yet have a use case. That seems like a lot of time.
Similarly, while you mustn’t be “carried away” by new technology hype cycles, you mustn’t ignore them either. You need to make “deliberate choices” in the realm of technological change, but be agile about implementing them. Be excited by martech innovation, in other words, but be sensible about it.
The growing landscape
Consolidation for the martech space is not in sight, Brinker and Riemersma say. Despite many mergers and acquisitions, and a steadily increasing number of bankruptcies and dissolutions, the exponentially increasing launch of new start-ups powers continuing growth.
It should be observed, of course, that this is almost entirely a cloud-based, subscription-based commercial space. To launch a martech start-up doesn’t require manufacturing, storage and distribution capabilities, or necessarily a workforce; it just requires uploading an app to the cloud. That is surely one reason new start-ups appear at such a startling rate.
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As the authors admit, “(i)f we measure by revenue and/or install base, the graph of all martech companies is a ‘long tail’ distribution.” What’s more, focus on the 200 or so leading companies in the space and consolidation can certainly be seen.
Long-tail tools are certainly not under-utilized, however. Based on a survey of over 1,000 real-world stacks, the report finds long-tail tools constitute about half of the solutions portfolios — a proportion that has remained fairly consistent since 2017. The authors see long-tail adoption where users perceive feature gaps — or subpar feature performance — in their core solutions.
Composability and aggregation
The other two trends covered in detail in the report are composability and aggregation. In brief, a composable view of a martech stack means seeing it as a collection of features and functions rather than a collection of software products. A composable “architecture” is one where apps, workflows, customer experiences, etc., are developed using features of multiple products to serve a specific use case.
Indeed, some martech vendors are now describing their own offerings as composable, meaning that their proprietary features are designed to be used in tandem with third-party solutions that integrate with them. This is an evolution of the core-suite-plus-app-marketplace framework.
That framework is what Brinker and Riemersma refer to as “vertical aggregation.” “Horizontal aggregation,” they write, is “a newer model” where aggregation of software is seen not around certain business functions (marketing, sales, etc.) but around a layer of the tech stack. An obvious example is the data layer, fed from numerous sources and consumed by a range of applications. They correctly observe that this has been an important trend over the past year.
Build it yourself
Finally, and consistent with Brinker’s long-time advocacy for the citizen developer, the report detects a nascent trend towards teams creating their own software — a trend that will doubtless be accelerated by support from AI.
So far, the apps that are being created internally may be no more than “simple workflows and automations.” But come the day that app development is so democratized that it will be available to a wide range of users, the software will be a “reflection of the way they want their company to operate and the experiences they want to deliver to customers. This will be a powerful dimension for competitive advantage.”
Constantine von Hoffman contributed to this report.
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Mastering The Laws of Marketing in Madness
Navigating through the world of business can be chaotic. At the time of this publication in November 2023, global economic growth is expected to remain weak for an undefined amount of time.
However, certain rules of marketing remain steadfast to guide businesses towards success in any environment. These universal laws are the anchors that keep a business steady, helping it thrive amidst uncertainty and change.
In this guide, we’ll explore three laws that have proven to be the cornerstones of successful marketing. These are practical, tried-and-tested approaches that have empowered businesses to overcome challenges and flourish, regardless of external conditions. By mastering these principles, businesses can turn adversities into opportunities, ensuring growth and resilience in any market landscape. Let’s uncover these essential laws that pave the way to success in the unpredictable world of business marketing. Oh yeah, and don’t forget to integrate these insights into your career. Follow the implementation steps!
Law 1: Success in Marketing is a Marathon, Not a Sprint
Navigating the tumultuous seas of digital marketing necessitates a steadfast ship, fortified by a strategic long-term vision. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.
Take Apple, for instance. The late ’90s saw them on the brink of bankruptcy. Instead of grasping at quick, temporary fixes, Apple anchored themselves in a long-term vision. A vision that didn’t just stop at survival, but aimed for revolutionary contributions, resulting in groundbreaking products like the iPod, iPhone, and iPad.
In a landscape where immediate gains often allure businesses, it’s essential to remember that these are transient. A focus merely on the immediate returns leaves businesses scurrying on a hamster wheel, chasing after fleeting successes, but never really moving forward.
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A long-term vision, however, acts as the north star, guiding businesses through immediate challenges while ensuring sustainable success and consistent growth over time.
Consider This Analogy:
Building a business is like growing a tree. Initially, it requires nurturing, patience, and consistent care. But with time, the tree grows, becoming strong and robust, offering shade and fruits—transforming the landscape. The same goes for business. A vision, perseverance, and a long-term strategy are the nutrients that allow it to flourish, creating a sustainable presence in the market.
- Begin by planning a content calendar focused on delivering consistent value over the next six months.
- Ensure regular reviews and necessary adjustments to your long-term goals, keeping pace with evolving market trends and demands.
- And don’t forget the foundation—invest in robust systems and ongoing training, laying down strong roots for sustainable success in the ever-changing digital marketing landscape.
Law 2: Survey, Listen, and Serve
Effective marketing hinges on understanding and responding to the customer’s needs and preferences. A robust, customer-centric approach helps in shaping products and services that resonate with the audience, enhancing overall satisfaction and loyalty.
Take Netflix, for instance. Netflix’s evolution from a DVD rental company to a streaming giant is a compelling illustration of a customer-centric approach.
Their transition wasn’t just a technological upgrade; it was a strategic shift informed by attentively listening to customer preferences and viewing habits. Netflix succeeded, while competitors such a Blockbuster haid their blinders on.
Here are some keystone insights when considering how to Survey, Listen, and Serve…
Customer Satisfaction & Loyalty:
Surveying customers is essential for gauging their satisfaction. When customers feel heard and valued, it fosters loyalty, turning one-time buyers into repeat customers. Through customer surveys, businesses can receive direct feedback, helping to identify areas of improvement, enhancing overall customer satisfaction.
Engaging customers through surveys not only garners essential feedback but also makes customers feel valued and involved. It cultivates a relationship where customers feel that their opinions are appreciated and considered, enhancing their connection and engagement with the brand.
Product & Service Enhancement:
Surveys can unveil insightful customer feedback regarding products and services. This information is crucial for making necessary adjustments and innovations, ensuring that offerings remain aligned with customer needs and expectations.
Surveys are instrumental in collecting demographic information. Understanding the demographic composition of a customer base is crucial for tailoring marketing strategies, ensuring they resonate well with the target audience.
Customer feedback can also shed light on a company’s operational aspects, such as customer service and website usability. Such insights are invaluable for making necessary enhancements, improving the overall customer experience.
Consistent surveying allows for effective benchmarking, enabling businesses to track performance over time, assess the impact of implemented changes, and make data-driven strategic decisions.
- Regularly incorporate customer feedback mechanisms like surveys and direct interactions to remain attuned to customer needs and preferences.
- Continuously refine and adjust offerings based on customer feedback, ensuring products and services evolve in alignment with customer expectations.
- In conclusion, adopting a customer-centric approach, symbolized by surveying, listening, and serving, is indispensable for nurturing customer relationships, driving loyalty, and ensuring sustained business success.
Law 3: Build Trust in Every Interaction
In a world cluttered with countless competitors vying for your prospects attention, standing out is about more than just having a great product or service. It’s about connecting authentically, building relationships rooted in trust and understanding. It’s this foundational trust that transforms casual customers into loyal advocates, ensuring that your business isn’t just seen, but it truly resonates and remains memorable.
For instance, let’s talk about Oprah! Through vulnerability and honest connections, Oprah Winfrey didn’t just build an audience; she cultivated a community. Sharing, listening, and interacting genuinely, she created a media landscape where trust and respect flourished. Oprah was known to make her audience and even guests cry for the first time live. She had a natural ability to build instant trust.
Here are some keystone insights when considering how to develop and maintain trust…
The Unseen Fast-Track
Trust is an unseen accelerator. It simplifies decisions, clears doubts, and fast-forwards the customer journey, turning curiosity into conviction and interest into investment.
The Emotional Guardrail
Trust is like a safety net or a warm embrace, making customers feel valued, understood, and cared for. It nurtures a positive environment, encouraging customers to return, not out of necessity, but a genuine affinity towards the brand.
- Real Stories: Share testimonials and experiences, both shiny and shaded, to build credibility and show authenticity.
- Open Conversation: Encourage and welcome customer feedback and discussions, facilitating a two-way conversation that fosters understanding and improvement.
- Community Engagement: Actively participate and engage in community or industry events, align your brand with genuine causes and values, promoting real connections and trust.
Navigating through this law involves cultivating a space where authenticity leads, trust blossoms, and genuine relationships flourish, engraving a memorable brand story in the hearts and minds of the customers.
Guarantee Your Success With These Foundational Laws
Navigating through the world of business is a demanding odyssey that calls for more than just adaptability and innovation—it requires a solid foundation built on timeless principles. In our exploration, we have just unraveled three indispensable laws that stand as pillars supporting the edifice of sustained marketing success, enabling businesses to sail confidently through the ever-shifting seas of the marketplace.
Law 1: “Success in Marketing is a Marathon, Not a Sprint,” advocates for the cultivation of a long-term vision. It is about nurturing a resilient mindset focused on enduring success rather than transient achievements. Like a marathon runner who paces themselves for the long haul, businesses must strategize, persevere, and adapt, ensuring sustained growth and innovation. The embodiment of this law is seen in enterprises like Apple, whose evolutionary journey is a testament to the power of persistent vision and continual reinvention.
Law 2: “Survey, Listen, and Serve,” delineates the roadmap to a business model deeply intertwined with customer insights and responsiveness. This law emphasizes the essence of customer-centricity, urging businesses to align their strategies and offerings with the preferences and expectations of their audiences. It’s a call to attentively listen, actively engage, and meticulously tailor offerings to resonate with customer needs, forging paths to enhanced satisfaction and loyalty.
Law 3: “Build Trust in Every Interaction,” underscores the significance of building genuine, trust-laden relationships with customers. It champions the cultivation of a brand personality that resonates with authenticity, fostering connections marked by trust and mutual respect. This law navigates businesses towards establishing themselves as reliable entities that customers can resonate with, rely on, and return to, enriching the customer journey with consistency and sincerity.
These pivotal laws form the cornerstone upon which businesses can build strategies that withstand the tests of market volatility, competition, and evolution. They stand as unwavering beacons guiding enterprises towards avenues marked by not just profitability, but also a legacy of value, integrity, and impactful contributions to the marketplace. Armed with these foundational laws, businesses are empowered to navigate the multifaceted realms of the business landscape with confidence, clarity, and a strategic vision poised for lasting success and remarkable achievements.
Oh yeah! And do you know Newton’s Law?The law of inertia, also known as Newton’s first law of motion, states that an object at rest will stay at rest, and an object in motion will stay in motion… The choice is yours. Take action and integrate these laws. Get in motion!
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