Pinterest Usage Booms as People Plan for New Reality

September 30, 2020
This year was supposed to be Pinterest's "great reboot," a way to re-introduce itself to the public. 
But the pandemic has made the platform even more relevant to people's lives, according to Pinterest's chief revenue officer Jon Kaplan. The company had 416 million monthly active users as of the second quarter of 2020, up 39 percent year-over-year. The figures rival those from social media platforms like Twitter and Snap.
"People are looking for inspiration," he explained. "They're looking for ideas. They're looking for more of an escape and to plan their future. All of those things fit really well into our value proposition. It's just part of our company strategy to help people use the platform for the things they come here for but also to introduce them to new use cases and occasions they can use Pinterest for."
On Tuesday, the company unveiled new areas for advertisers to buy ads, including on its visual search tool Pinterest Lens, in the "Shop" tab in search, and on shoppable Pins. Shopping ads are also now available in the UK, starting with "home" or "fashion" Pins, search results, Pinterest Lens, and shoppable Pins. Insights are now available for verified merchants and Shopify retailers, including how many people clicked on an ad and bought the product. 
The news follows Pinterest's updates for creators last week, which introduced Story Pins. Similar to the story format on Instagram, Snap, and Facebook, Pinterest users can make step-by-step video tutorials and other guides. But unlike the other platforms, the Story Pins can be resurfaced using Pinterest's algorithm and does not expire after a set period of time.
"This is not ephemeral," Kaplan explained. "It does not disappear. In fact, content lives for many months after it gets published on the platform." 
The changes may have encouraged more people to become Pinners. Gen Z users were up  50 percent year-over-year in June alone. International growth increased by more than 40 percent compared to the Q2 period in 2019. The company also recently beat its record for most downloads in a single day, according to app analytics companies Sensor Tower and Apptopia. 
Pinterest was able to adapt to the changes of 2020 quickly, including giving people inspiration during the coronavirus pandemic according to Kaplan. The platform observed some interesting trends, including a three times higher spike in searches for Christmas content during late April. It also noticed searches rise for backyard weddings and, more recently, for costume ideas that incorporate masks. 
"They were focused on things like my health, activities for kids, what am I going to eat," he said. "And that became the currency for our advertisers. They really understood how people were adjusting to the new reality."
The image-sharing service also was able to ban negative and misleading content because of the upbeat nature of Pinterest. This has allowed it to block political election content as well as hot-button topics like the anti-vaccination opinions for years, a move many social media platforms are grappling with to this day. 
"It's a positive and productive mindset people come to our platform with," Kaplan said. "In our view, to fulfill in our mission, we have to serve inspiring content, and we have to prevent harmful content or misinformation that would take away from our purpose."
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