Pinterest gets measurable

In what many are calling a long awaited move, Pinterest has announced new web analytics capabilities for its platform, allowing brands to track users pinning from their sites.

Pinterest Web Analytics, launched yesterday, will allow site owners to see how many people are pinning from their website, viewing pins and clicking on content. The tool is free and is aimed at allowing sites to see how users interact with their content.

While several brands have been using Pinterest to promote their products, one big question has been its monetisation model.

The online pinboard platform measures number 35 on Alexa's top websites globally, boasting 865,253 websites linking to its platform. In the US, it ranks even higher at number 14.

According to ComScore, global user visits hit 48 million last December, a huge spike from the nine million the year before. In May last year, Japanese e-commerce firm Rakuten led a US$100 million investment in Pinterest, valuing the company at US$1.5 billion.

While Pinterest's popularity in Asia pales from what it enjoys in the US, it is growing fast. As of early 2012, Experian Hitwise has shown the site already growing fast from 57,000 visits a month to over 1 million a month between March and October of 2011.

Industry players have highlighted the platform's strength as being able to build culture around a brand and the potential to reach a wider internet audience than photo-sharing site Instagram.

"Pinning is as easy as tweeting. For this reason, Instagram will be a limited tool for most businesses," said Prakash Kamdar, group CEO at TUS Isobar.

Digital agency executives in the region have lauded Pinterest's new development, saying that this would make the platform much more appealing to marketers.

Vyshnavi Doss, a digital planner at Wunderman, said Pinterest had the benefit of leveraging a highly engaged audience through pinning.

"What will be most interesting though is how Pinterest will use this data in conjunction with what is perhaps its most marketable feature: the pin."

Freda Kwok, lead consultant at Blugrapes, added that detailed analytics should allow the Pinterest community to act like a user-generated-content curator community for brands, helping them to understand what works with their audience.

According to Kwok, what is lacking is the inclusion of demographics related data.

"This is crucial as it determines if the feedback is from the right and appropriate target audience. Having information about the top advocate, identified by their site content pinning activity, will also be beneficial in helping brands identify advocates within the community."

Planning director at digital agency XM Asia, Ernest Kim said that while Pinterest took a long time to unveil its analytics tool, it trumps that of Facebook and Twitter, though it still pales in comparison to the offerings by existing third party web analytics systems such as that by Adobe, Coremetrics and Google Analytics.

"It very clearly answers the question of "what's in it for me?" for marketers who, after years of investment in Facebook and Twitter, might be wary of pouring money into yet another third-party social engagement platform," he said.

"But unlike those third-party offerings, Pinterest Web Analytics is free, which makes it a great starter option for marketers new to pinning," he adds.