Here’s how one marketing firm is tackling the Pinterest problem

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Pinterest is coming of age and marketing firms are gathering to preach Pinterest marketing gospel. The site is an unusual beast: a mix of image-focused design (like Instagram), founded on a social-follower premise (like Twitter), but has since shifted to search-driven results (like Google). Making the most of the site’s reach takes more than just a promoted pin — brands need a marketing strategy that taps into all of Pinterest’s qualities.

Ahalogy is one marketing firm that aims to provide it. Its president, Bob Gilbreath, outlined the advertising strategy it uses with brands like Procter & Gamble, Kraft and Nespresso. It’s a mix of tracking pin virality, sponsoring external pin-happy blogs, using search engine optimization technology and promoting pins when a little extra boost could go a long way for sharing.

Pinterest is already fueled by the Internet’s content creators — legions of food bloggers, hair stylists, fashionistas, and other hobbyists and craftmakers who populate the site with their tips and tricks packaged with perfect photos. Ahalogy steps in to pair a viral pin with a brand or to help give it the push to go viral.

Their software will allow a brand to stick a “sponsored by” type of ad to the blogger or craftsperson’s site. Since all pins link back to the original site where the image came from, when a pin starts performing well then traffic is routed back to the blog. By sponsoring that blog post, a brand gets the opportunity to piggyback on the viral pin.

A pin about creating the perfect cheese plate links back to a personal foodie blog. Since the blogger has partnered with Ahalogy, Ahalogy placed an ad from crackers company Town House after the cheese pin started performing well.

A pin about creating the perfect cheese plate links back to a personal foodie blog. Since the blogger has partnered with Ahalogy, Ahalogy placed an ad from crackers company Town House after the cheese pin started performing well.

For example, here’s a pin from one of Ahalogy’s blogger partners. When you click it, you’ll go to the blogger’s original site, and in the bottom right corner an ad for Town House will appear (see above). If people seem to like a pin but it hasn’t gone viral yet, sometimes Ahalogy will prompt a brand to pay for the pin to be promoted — that can give it just the bump it needs to start spreading far on its own accord. Any additional repins don’t cost the company anything extra, and the repins lead more traffic to the blog (and therefore the brand’s ad).

It’s about gaming the application’s virality to make the most of the marketing dollars spent.

The other tactic Ahalogy uses is search engine optimization, a term we associate far more with Google than Pinterest. Ahalogy pays attention to people’s search habits to help brands plan their pinning strategy. For example, it will make sure companies that want to pin chocolate images only do so between 8 pm ET and midnight (peak chocolate search time, Gilbreath said).

You can see the trifecta of Pinterest marketing strategies — search, social, and visual — in Ahalogy’s approach. Pinterest isn’t quite like any of the other social applications out there, and as it tries for an $11 billion valuation other brands’ advertising approaches will only grow more sophisticated.

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