Interview with Tim Kendall, President at Pinterest

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Interview with Tim Kendall, President at Pinterest

„Visual discovery presents significant opportunities for marketers“

Which possibilities do you provide to brands and enterprises to monetize their business while using Pinterest – one of the most engaging online platforms worldwide?

At Pinterest, we talk about the importance of building technology that helps people discover and do the things they love. People use Pinterest to find new possibilities to plan their lives—from small things like cooking dinner to bigger life events such as preparing for a new baby or remodeling their home.

This discovery mindset and openness to new ideas adds up to a big opportunity for marketers. Businesses play a huge role on Pinterest: the majority of content that people save on the platform comes from business websites. And when people interact with content on Pinterest, they’re showing a level of intent that’s much higher than on other platforms. They’re on Pinterest to find ideas, so they’re particularly receptive to what businesses have to say, and they’re looking for guidance across the entire path to purchase.

Pinterest was one of the pioneers in the online world who changed imagery and visual marketing approaches enormously. What was the key moment when you knew Pinterest would change everything in online marketing as we knew it before?

The key moment for me wasn’t actually a specific moment. When I first arrived at Pinterest five years ago, I immediately saw an alignment between businesses and our users that you don’t see on any other service. Businesses want their ideas in front of consumers and people on Pinterest are open minded and receptive to these brands and ideas. As a result, advertising on Pinterest is not interruptive and brands fit naturally on the platform.

How do you think will Pinterest will evolve in the next 20 years?

Over the next 20, years we believe visual search will overtake from text search. The difference between text and visual search is like the difference between information and ideas. Visual search helps you see the possibilities and helps you navigate ideas until you find what’s right for you. That’s how people use Pinterest: they’re looking for the possibilities and depend on Pinterest to help them narrow it down to what fits their personal taste and style.

Everyday we’re making advancements in computer vision to bring first-of-a-kind products like Lens camera search to people on Pinterest. While search engines rely on typing text into a box, we’re focused on the untapped potential of searching and discovering with images and with your camera. As we continue to invest in computer vision and machine learning, we’re helping people discover things both when they are specifically looking for something as well as when they are not exactly sure what they are looking for. We believe Pinterest is the best place for visual discovery, especially on mobile and in areas like food, home, beauty and style.

Which technologies could change your business model apparently?

We believe visual discovery technology will have a significant impact on our business. In February, we announced the visual discovery tools Lens, Shop the Look and Instant Ideas, which make it even easier for people to discover new things with images rather than words. Now, we’re also working on visual discovery technology to connect consumers and advertisers in the most personalized, relevant way to date.

How does it work? Our technology identifies characteristics within an image — like colors, shapes and textures. That shows us what people find appealing, and helps us tailor ad relevance in a completely new way. It makes our ads even more relevant, which makes them more helpful for Pinners, and more effective for businesses. And because we are the leader in visual discovery we can capitalize on the business opportunity.

What does digital transformation mean for you personally?

Digital transformation means for me personally using technology to go offline and do things to enrich my life. Many companies think about how much time their users spend on their app — we don’t think about time spent. Instead, we think about time well spent. How can we use this transformation to inspire people to get out in the real world and use the information they find online to do something meaningful offline? At Pinterest, we’re focused on using technology that — in a deliberate and mindful way — helps you discover, and more importantly, do the things you love.

Ultimately, we hope Pinterest is a tool that helps people live better lives. We aren’t just about discovery: getting people to do things is also an important part of our mission. So while other apps are in competition to keep people online longer, we want people to find exciting ideas, then go do them in real life.

We believe even the small parts of making a person’s day better add up. That’s what we’re doing for the world. It’s finding a new recipe and making a meal for your family, turning your house into a home, feeling more confident with a new haircut or style. The sum of all the moments you do offline is your life and that’s what we hope to help people with everyday.

What is the significance of digital transformation for your company and for its future business operations? In your opinion what are the most important trends at the moment?

Technology has the ability to make the advertising experience incredibly relevant and additive to the consumer while continuing to deliver strong, measurable results for marketers. In my opinion, the three most important trends are visual discovery, measurement and attribution, and video.

As I mentioned, visual discovery will continue to grow as one of the most important ways people find things online. This presents significant opportunities for marketers and we are just at the beginning of what is possible.

Measurement continues to be one of the most important disciplines in marketing. I hesitate to even call it a trend because of how omnipresent it has been over the years, but it just continues to grow in significance as marketers ask for more concrete, measurable results. It’s a big question: how can we accurately prove that an advertisers campaign is working both offline and online?

For attribution, we believe first touch attribution will become the most powerful metric in digital advertising. Historically, marketers have focused on capturing or intercepting existing demand and fulfilling it. We’re starting to see marketers push their media partners to help create new demand, getting existing or new customers to buy things they hadn’t even thought about yet. This push corresponds to a push for better attribution models that properly account for the value of touches that happen earlier in the path to purchase.

Video will continue to be a leading format, since it delivers such immersive stories. We believe there will be continued pressure on making video more measurable and performance-based. We also think long-form video will continue to grow as an important and popular form. There is a perception in the market that you’ll have a low completion rate with long-form video, however, on Pinterest, we’ve seen that completion rates don’t necessarily correlate to the length of content. We’ve seen in the industry that quantity can sometimes override quality. We believe it’s more important to develop videos tailored to someone’s mindset rather than focusing on things like length. Video that provides utility or helps people do something in their lives provides better value to them, and ultimately to businesses too.

What do you expect from dmexco 2017? Which role is dmexco playing for the global digital economy?

dmexco is the leading international marketing event, bringing together the top brands, agencies and marketers from around the world. I expect a lot of knowledge sharing and collaboration around the most important industry trends. My hope is that the dmexco can challenge conventional thinking and advance key issues around measurability, accountability, brand safety and performance.

And if you could make a wish for the future of the online marketing industry in general, what would it be?

That everyone takes measurement and accountability seriously. We have an opportunity as an industry to improve how results are verified and validated. At Pinterest, we fundamentally believe in a third party measurement and validation ecosystem. We believe in the power of industry audits and support them.