Pinterest targets brands and developers with new APIs

Pinterest Said To Be Raising Funding At $11 Billion Valuation
The Pinterest Inc. application (app) is displayed for a photograph in the Apple Inc. App Store on an iPad Air in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Feb. 19, 2015. Pinterest Inc. the online scrapbooking company, is seeking to raise funding at a valuation of about $11 billion, according to a person familiar with the matter, continuing the soaring values of a group of high-profile technology startups. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Photograph by Andrew Harrer — Bloomberg via Getty Images

As Pinterest aims to create a thriving advertising business, the company is unveiling new technologies to help brands and businesses use the social scrapbooking site in more automated ways. Specifically, it will release several new APIs—as in “application programming interfaces,” which allow third-parties to access proprietary Pinterest data—in an effort to encourage development of new features.

The company has debuted a new program called Marketing Developer Partner to allow partners to create, schedule, and publish Pins and boards on behalf of their clients. For example, Sprinklr, a $1 billion company that allows brands to manage their presence on social media sites, is using a content publishing API, which allows third parties to publish, create, and schedule Pins. Companies like Sprinklr already automate posting for brands on other social platforms like Twitter and Facebook.

Prior to this marketing integration, there was more fragmentation for marketers to publish directly on Pinterest, explains Joanne Bradford, the company’s head of partnerships. “This is a big step forward for marketers to scale.”

Interestingly, Pinterest has also announced a beta version of an Ads API, following in the footsteps of other ad-supported Internet giants including Google, Facebook, and Twitter. The API gives outside ad platforms the ability to push ads to Pinterest in their own advertising solutions.

Bradford says that the Ads API was one of the most requested features for brands, as many companies are accustomed to buying ad spots through partners and working with them.

In an effort to help brands become more aware of the ways they can engage the social platform, Pinterest has been holding educational events for ad partners, called the Pinstitute. With the new ads API and Marketing program, Bradford and her team will be holding a Pinstitute for developer partners, as well as another similar program for publishing partners this summer. She adds that the company will be having a presence the Cannes Lions ad festival in June.

Now worth $10 billion after its last funding round, Pinterest is figuring out how to bring in meaningful revenue. Ads are a key part of that approach, and the company debuted its first ad product a year ago, promoted pins. Since then, Pinterest has offered advertisers more ways to target users, as well as different ad formats, such as animated pins.

It’s unclear what that revenue looks like, but in early reports from last year’s Promoted Pins launch, the startup was asking advertisers for $1 million to $2 million in spending commitments. At the time, Pinterest was looking for $30 to $40 CPMs, or cost per mille (cost per thousand impressions), the standard for measuring media. As Fortune’s Erin Griffith reported at the time, that price as a big markup from $2.66, the average CPM across the web in 2012.

Why the markup? Pinterest users and pinners are valuable because they’re on Pinterest with the intent to take action, especially when it comes to purchasing. It’s a key differentiator from other social platforms such as Twitter and Facebook.

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