Today we’re delivering a full recap of the Q4 earnings report that Pinterest delivered to investors.
There is some fantastic information regarding Pinterest’s goals and priorities for 2021, including where they see the most growth in investments, and what that means for
- story pins.
Alrighty, let’s dive into the fun!
Ben Silbermann, CEO of Pinterest, laid out their predictions for growth and investment and detailed four main objectives for 2021. He began by reminding everyone of the overall vision of Pinterest.
Our mission is to bring everyone the inspiration to create a life they love. — Ben Silbermann, Pinterest CEO
Pinterest predicts their growth and investment in 2021 will be in the following areas:
- gen Z
- international expansion
- video consumption
- story pins
With this in mind, here are the four main objectives Pinterest has for this year.
Pinterest’s Goals for 2021
Goal #1 – Deliver Inspiring Content
Pinterest wants to continue to invest in emerging formats like video. They feel video represents a dynamic new way to deliver how-to tutorials and storytelling. For creators, they view story pins as a new way to publish short-form, multi-page content.
Story pins on Pinterest serve a different purpose compared to stories on other platforms. Story pins are geared more towards the “how-to” and telling a little bit of a story about something that will inspire people. This is in stark contrast to Instagram stories, which are more focused on entertainment and capturing temporary life moments.
Also, story pins are unique because they live forever on the platform.
On Instagram and SnapChat, stories disappear after 24 hours. I do have to give Pinterest props for not making story pins time-sensitive. They understand that pinners want to be inspired. If they are inspired by a story pin and want to revisit it, they have to have a way to keep it.
Related: Is Pinterest Social Media?
Goal #2 – Deepen the Pinner Experience
In 2020, a goal for Pinterest was to be more useful and introduce people to more ways to use their platform through improved relevance of recommendations and more diverse content. Their priority in 2021 is expanding that focus.
They want to make sure that wherever a pinner goes in their journey, they’re going to have a first-class experience.
This second priority felt a little bit ambiguous to me. When they’re talking about “deepening the pinner’s experience”, I think they’re trying to say they want to continue to make Pinterest helpful, inspiring, and useful. But I don’t know what they mean when they refer to a “first-class experience”.
We need to watch for signs that show us how this is rolling out.
Goal #3 – Help Pinterest Advertisers Succeed
Pinterest says making its advertisers successful is definitely critical to achieving its main mission. I do like this priority.
Unlike other services where ads are sometimes seen as a distraction, ads on Pinterest can actually enhance the user experience. I like that ads are very native to the platform. Sometimes you don’t even know that you’re looking at a promoted pin.
I think that is an advantage for Pinterest. People come to Pinterest with the intent to buy things for projects like remodeling a home or buying a new outfit. Relevant ads for businesses help the pinner discover what they want.
In order to achieve their main mission through ads, Pinterest will need to scale its sales team significantly to bring in new advertisers.
They say investing in content safety is important so that brands are showcased in a positive space. They recognize the need to offer more insights about future Pinterest trends to help advertisers get the most value for their dollars.
As a creator, this priority is really important for you to think about going forward into 2021. If you have not invested in Pinterest ads, it’s really important that you explore them.
SPM wants to be a place where you can get the education you need in order to run an ad effectively. This is one of our priorities here at Simple Pin so we will be actively working on this priority during 2021.
I would predict that we are going to see an uptick in emails and pitches from Pinterest to use their ads platform, especially if you are in the international market. So just be watching for that.
Goal #4 – Expand and Fine-Tune Shopping Features
I know that lately we’ve had a lot of bumps in the road when it comes to shopping features on Pinterest. We’ve had the white dots come up as they’ve been testing here and there for the last year or so. It really kicked into high gear in February and it was a big distraction. I do think Pinterest has to get better with the shopping integration.
Pinterest said their mission isn’t complete unless they help people create the life they dream about, offline. For pinners, being able to buy the products they discover is what makes that action possible.
In the earnings report, Pinterest said they made progress on the shopping front last year. They feel they made it easy to switch directly into shop mode from the search cue. As a consequence of introducing these new features, they experienced 6x increase in shopping advertisers on Pinterest in Q4.
This year, they plan to build on that momentum by continuing to help businesses get their products on Pinterest. By doing so, they will help pinners discover the value and buy their products through the shopping features. They want to expand these features more globally as well, so no matter where you live, you can shop on Pinterest.
I think this particular priority is going to be a big hurdle for them. We have the Verified Merchant program, the Shop tab, integration with Shopify, and so many other platforms.
Pinterest Financial Trends
On the financial front, Pinterest is very healthy. In Q4, monthly active users grew 37% year-over-year to 459 million. Revenue in the quarter grew 76% year-over-year to $706 million.
They also expanded their sales team in Western Europe to try to monetize their engagement in this part of the world. Their international business grew 145% year-over-year. International markets now represent 17% of total revenue.
Given this momentum, they plan to continue to invest to best serve pinners, merchants, and advertisers all within their key priorities.
They also want to invest in a strong overall online holiday season. They viewed that as super-powerful last year. So a key priority with their shopping is to double down during the holiday season. It’s important to remember the driving force of that shopping season is September to February. Q4 is going to be a big driver in 2021 for holiday purchasing.
Here’s another interesting tidbit — Pinterest has expanded its sales team in Western Europe over this last year and they plan to further expand that international coverage. But they also want to expand into Latin America in the first half of the year. So going into 2021, Latin America seems to be their focus.
Pinterest Investors Report: Q&A on 2020
This Q&A was so fascinating. Many hints were dropped during this session and Pinterest really emphasized the long game. Here are some of the highlights of what was discussed.
Pinterest will continue to innovate on video content. They’ve invested in video and they’ve seen the fruits of their labor reflected in a significant uptick in video views and uploads.
I remember doing a podcast episode at the beginning of 2017 with Jeff Sieh. We were talking about video and wondering if Pinterest users would ever embrace video content. It felt like a speed bump at the time, but from 2018 to 2020, Pinterest really invested in it. Now video really feels like a natural part of the platform (both organic content and promoted pins).
They really want to focus on serving relevant ads by growing the number of advertisers. But one of their hurdles is conversions. Conversion visibility is likely to get tougher and it’s really not a surprise to anyone, given the growing decline in third-party data availability.
We’ve been talking about this for some time, the privacy and regulatory environment has been evolving over the last period of time. So we are investing in the first-party signal.
First-party data is data about the company’s customers that is collected and owned by that company. Information about customers is compiled through software and systems that the company owns.
Pinterest is saying they are really investing in the conversion data that Pinterest has for their advertisers. So they’re probably not going to get a lot of information that is third-party data.
Translation: They know they need to be focused on serving more relevant ads and growing the number of advertisers. But they also know they need to get the data to the advertisers, especially conversion data so that people know where to put their money. But the movement towards more stringent privacy laws might pose a challenge.
Sponsored Story Pins
This was another one I thought was really, really big. I don’t know if you heard me say this but I’ve predicted that two things were coming down the pike and number one was story pin ads.
As we grow the Creator’s ability to publish story pins, we want to enable them to monetize it.
The way that Pinterest is framing it in this Q4 earnings report they are envisioning sponsored story pin collaborations between brands and creators.
My takeaway is story pins are going to continue to be really, really important for two reasons:
- they keep people on the platform longer. This is what they need to take that information to their potential ad client. This information shows how long people spend time on the platform.
- story pins are likely going to evolve into ads.
For those of you who are content creators/bloggers, I also predict that story pins are going to be really important to your sponsored work with brands (I talked about this in a recent episode of the Eat Blog Talk podcast.)
Pinterest strongly emphasized this in the Q4 earnings report. It’s a really important thing for you to think about.
At Simple Pin, we are really trying to understand how we can level up with story pins. While I am frustrated that they don’t allow you to include links, I can’t do anything about it. I think we need to utilize them in creative ways.
People who are creating story pins are positioning themselves well for the future. And many content creators are finding that the early adoption of story pins has hugely beneficial to their business. You are typically rewarded by Pinterest when you experiment with their new features.
Pinterest has seen a significant uptake in product searches (roughly 20x in the last year). They want their platform to be an easy place to buy, an easy place to spend, and an easy place to get great results for sellers.
However, Pinterest will not pursue native check out — in other words, they won’t be trying to get you to buy within the platform. Those of you who have been on Pinterest for quite some time know they did have the buy button at one time. It’s an understatement to say it didn’t work well.
So when they were asked about this, Pinterest specifically said they will not pursue native check out but will remain focused on helping product sellers to establish updated catalogs. These catalogs will be used to send pinners to the seller’s site to make a purchase. Pinterest wants to make it as seamless as possible to go from inspiration to purchase without any bumps.
I know all of you who are product sellers might be rolling your eyes right now. You’re thinking about how difficult it has been to figure out how to get your catalogs onto the platform. I understand your frustration.
I am hoping for better integrations with Shopify, BigCommerce, WooCommerce, and the other shopping platforms. I hope that Pinterest invests in the necessary technology to make that super seamless.
So now I’m speaking to all the product sellers out there — knowing that this is a huge priority for Pinterest, it is vital that you not only have pictures of your product but lifestyle pictures of your products as well. Even if you are a small seller that does not have a big budget, I cannot recommend enough that you invest in professional photography for your product images.
Pinterest said one of the things they want to do differently as they expand their ads internationally is to focus more on smaller to medium-sized businesses. This is different from the focus they had on really big business in the US.
They will also roll out some shopping features to a larger proportion of the international market over time. They are planning to take all that they’ve learned in the U.S. in order to expand in different ways internationally.
The Pinterest-Creator Relationship
One of the questions posed during the Q & A was
“How should we understand why a creator comes to Pinterest vs. Instagram, Snapchat, or TikTok?” They essentially asked Pinterest how they view creators.
Here was Ben’s answer:
We’re starting to bring on creators who want to be known more for their ability to teach how to do something than just shining a spotlight on what they’re doing day to day. So Pinterest will be known for more actionable content, educational content than pure entertainment content.
Also, relative to other social media platforms, Pinterest believes that their value is enhanced by the fact that story pins live forever on their platform.
Pinterest believes that story pins will be the feature that brings together the pinner, advertiser, and creator.
Let me give a little commentary on this.
One of the things that I have been pushing for the last couple of years, is a Creator Board at Pinterest. I would love to see a group of people who are creators and marketers from all different spaces consulting with and advising Pinterest. I’d like to see them advise how to best create an ecosystem where the creator knows what they’re getting from Pinterest and Pinterest knows what they’re getting from creators. And together, they can meet Pinterest’s goal to inspire the pinner to have a life they love.
Although there has been a shift in a positive direction over these past few years, I think we still have a long way to go to get there.
I do think there is a space on the platform for creators to showcase what they have and make an impact. Sometimes we get caught up in how the company is treating us. I agree that there needs to be more attention paid to how to work best with creators and creating an open line of communication. But I also believe that the very first thing that we need to be focused on is the pinner.
Our customers, our readers, and our community are on Pinterest.
We need to understand how we can use it in a way that’s really effective for getting in front of those people. We can work on this and continue to give feedback to Pinterest about what works and what doesn’t work. Let them know how they can help us and how they can get us to spend money on their ads.
Pinterest’s Goals for 2021: Key Takeaways
1. We will have to navigate growth in 2021 as COVID restrictions ease. We saw a massive amount of growth for some people in 2020 due to COVID, although not necessarily for those in the wedding or travel industry.
In 2021, the growth probably won’t be as explosive on Pinterest or even for your brand. But I think there is a lot of room to really hit these trends to inspire people in 2021, even as COVID restrictions ease.
2. Shopping is a top priority. Sellers need to pay attention to this. Our goal at Simple Pin is to provide as much education and as many resources as we can so you as a product seller will know how to accurately place your product on the platform so it will be seen.
3. Story pins are going to continue to be a big initiative. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see sponsored story pins and story pin ads. They’re definitely coming down the pike. The “swipe up” at the bottom look for story pins is priming the pump for the future.
4. We hope to get better data on promoted pins and better tools for that first-party data and conversions.
5. We may see better tools for small and mid-size businesses as Pinterest is positioned for growth internationally. If you are marketing outside of the U.S., Canada, or the UK, you need to be paying attention. Sign up for Pinterest business emails in your home country so you can be the first to hear what those tools are going to be, especially in relation to ads.
People are leaving Facebook ads in droves. They are looking for new places to put their dollars. That is not unique to the United States. I believe that will also be happening globally.
So get ahead of the curve and make sure you are getting all the education that you can on Pinterest ads. Simple Pin will serve it up to you every single week in our Wednesday Weekly Newsletter, so make sure you sign up for our newsletter.
We will also continue to look at these quarterly earnings reports as we go through 2021 and highlight Pinterest’s current priorities. We’ll make recommendations as to how you can navigate your marketing within the context of these priorities.
I’ve given you a lot here.
I don’t normally geek out on reading earnings reports, but when it comes to Pinterest, I definitely do. I’m super curious about how they are functioning business-wise and I’m always interested in knowing how stable they are and how they plan to be sustainable in their business model. If you’re as interested as I am and would like to read the entire Q4 earnings report, you can access it here.
I would love to have your feedback on this post. Tell us how these priorities will help you market better on Pinterest and what you see as your priorities for using Pinterest in 2021.
We often let Pinterest try to dictate where we’re going.
But what are your goals?
Why do you want to use this platform as a way to grow and expand your reach as a business?
Leave a comment below or DM us on Instagram.
One last request — I would love for you to leave a review on Apple podcast for us.
We would love to hear feedback from you about what your greatest takeaways have been with our podcast. We want to hear your “Aha” moments and how we helped you grow in your Pinterest marketing. Your review helps more people see this podcast and learn how to do Pinterest Marketing in a way that works best for their business.
For Further Listening/Reading:
Frieda Guercio says
Thank you for this article. As I embark on my own Pinterest Management and Coaching Business I appreciate, and am confident in, the work you/Simple Media put together. There is sooooo much information ‘out there’ that is conflicting, that a newbie to the Pinterest business could go wonkers, let alone a business owner trying to implement a Pinterest strategy. Thank you for the great work. I love being on your mailing list! My website is in the works, but the URL is listed and will go live soon!
k ahl says
Frieda, I am glad you found this article helpful in clarifying things for you!