Pinterest business boss urges brands to chase trends, not fads, with 'cheat sheet' report

Pinterest's Predicts report allows it a leg up on the future of social commerce

The Drum catches up with Pinterest’s director of business marketing, Visha Naul, following the release of its Pinterest Predicts 2022 report, which she calls a ‘cheat sheet’ for advertisers.

Pinterest’s director of business marketing Visha Naul hopes that the coming years will see a return of color and vivacity, online and in-person. It’s a sentiment many of us share; the difference is, Naul has access to a ‘cheat sheet’ of sorts that suggests audiences are also hungry for this.

The Pinterest Predicts report, which has been shared with advertisers and creators the past two years, is a deep dive into the burgeoning and long-lasting trends on the platform. It charts the rise of interest-based trends based on user activity and (crucially for brands and advertisers) demonstrates the performance of various verticals and sectors among its audience of ‘Pinners’.

Naul says the longevity of Pinterest’s audience data allows it to look beyond fads when communicating with its advertising partners – even with the uncertainty of the global pandemic: “Trends do hold more meaning on Pinterest and we end up doing a bit of a review, because we want to make sure that we’re saying the right thing to the industry.

“And we’ve found, year-on-year, that 80% of our trends hold true, which was really incredible to see."

As a result, the platform has seen huge increases in the amount of time audiences spend with interests including mindfulness, mental wellbeing and hobbies designed to reduce stress. Additionally, on Pinterest trends sustain “20% longer monthly growth than other platforms, which means brands and creators who feature these trends benefit from content with a longer lifespan,” according to research by Black Swan Data for Pinterest in June this year.

Those insights are central to Pinterest’s pitch to brands. Naul also pushes back against the perception that Pinterest is primarily for women.

“Pinterest is very diverse. And I think there’s a common misconception that it is for women. So there are various different verticals… there are very different audiences here, and they all use Pinterest in various different ways."

But going into 2022, she believes it can grab a decent slice of social commerce pie, a space she says is "booming". "Pinterest is really in a good place right now to sort of leverage the ’idea to buy’ funnel, and that is really what we all really want. And we’re also seeing different types of brands really leverage that and open the aperture when it comes to flexing their creative muscle.”

Pinterest’s demonstration of its insights using Predicts is in service of buoying its social commerce revenue. It has invested in ensuring that its buying and selling options are robust: its ’similar shoppable’ tool, for example, recommends similar products to users, even if the original item is discontinued or out of stock. According to its research, “shoppers who visit Pinterest weekly outspend non-Pinners by 2x every month and have an 85% larger basket size”.

Naul says that the secret to that outsized influence lies in Pinterest having a protectionist mindset to its users, and that it insists brands approach them in a genuine way. “It has always been part of our DNA to really be protective over the user, because inspiration is all about ideas. It’s all about making sure that your user is comfortable about using your platform.

“We have to work really closely with brands to make sure that their marketing goals marry up with what the platform can deliver for them. I’m a bit of a stickler for this – you can’t just cut ads to fit whatever platform you work with. You have to work really closely with the platform to really understand it."

E-commerce – and particularly social commerce – are set to be growth industries for the foreseeable future. Provided that Pinterest can continue to tap into the data that allows it to connect brands with its users around emerging trends, it has a head start in that space. And it could perhaps help create that post-pandemic color and vivacity Naul hopes for.