Insights into Pinterest’s innovation lab and the future of video shopping


When Pinterest launched Pinterest TV earlier this month – a new live video feature on the site that saw top creators start posting shoppable videos that walk their followers through beauty routines and Christmas cocktail recipes – shared all videos have a certain aesthetic and tone: airy, educational, and upbeat. This was by design. “We make sure the content is inspiring and positive,” says Pinterest manager David Temple. “It’s the kind of content you’d expect on Pinterest.”

In other words, Pinterest TV isn’t a free collection of videos like YouTube or TikTok, which Temple doesn’t mention when in contrast he is referring to other “you can go spouting” video platforms. whatever conspiracy theory or political theory ”or throw a“ picture of kids you have. That’s great. But Pinterest has a different mission and we wanted to develop our product differently. “

[Image: courtesy of Pinterest]

To ensure this consistency, Pinterest TV has been put in the hands of TwoTwenty, Pinterest’s in-house creative team that oversees the company’s product innovations. (Temple oversees TwoTwenty and Pinterest’s new product division.) Named after the address of the original Pinterest office, the team of 15 brings together Pinterest employees from across the company to share their unique experiences and perspectives – for example the lawyer who is really into gardening – and brainstorming ideas and new technologies. And then bring them to life.

“We usually describe it as a product incubator,” says Meredith Arthur, who leads TwoTwenty’s all-female production team. “I think the special thing about it is that there are so many different people working together. It is really unusual for a large company to have this small incubator team working across functions in this way. “

Pinterest TV is the first product to emerge from TwoTwenty and is the company’s attempt to compete with, yes, YouTube and TikTok in particular, which have been shown to drive Gen Z purchases in particular. Pinterest also recently launched a TikTok-like “Watch” tab, which viewers can use to scroll through creators’ videos and like, comment, and save to their Pinterest boards.

The general foray into video programming is mimicking a trend on social media, although Pinterest’s efforts come much later than other companies’ video initiatives and have been described by some observers as catching up. Instagram, for example, launched IGTV in 2018; Facebook debuted with Facebook Watch a year earlier.

But when Pinterest is a little late for the video, it insists that it is “on purpose” and operates in a way that is loyal to the platform and what their more than 400 million monthly users want from the Pinterest experience. In other words, it’s not just about making videos for video’s sake. For this purpose there is the shoppable component as well as a function that enables users to interact with the creators via chat. In order to complement the more conscious shopping character of Pinterest users (in contrast to the impulsive purchases on other social media platforms), episodes in 30-minute formats need their time.

Pinterest TV also doesn’t block ads from users’ throats. When the platform launched, it enabled organic brand partnerships with YouTubers, but there aren’t any pre-roll spots or any paid promotional items – at least not yet. There are currently no built-in monetization streams for YouTubers, but Temple says that some YouTubers have doubled their fan base in a single episode. And the live shopping element is likely to create brand partnership opportunities.

As for production, TwoTwenty works closely with the creators, guiding them through the shoot and giving them tools to record like ring lights, microphones and cameras. TwoTwenty recently helped beauty blogger Austen Tosone shoot one of her first make-up tutorials – a vacation look -, work on the idea with her, and then design the video. “We plan it, we do a technical check, we make sure that your equipment works and that it has two camera angles,” says Arthur.

“More importantly,” Tosone’s episode preceded another beauty guru Manny Mua in an attempt to create crossover synergies and enlarge Tosone’s audience. “He has a huge fan base in this world, he left at 3 pm, Austen at 3:30 pm. She was excited about that. She said, ‘I’m a fan. I can’t believe I can follow him right away!’

“So it’s just one example of holding hands and the process of shaping them into someone who can hopefully continue to become more independent. We want to make sure that this becomes established. “

As for the founding of TwoTwenty, the team emerged from an informal conference that Pinterest has held for years, where employees from different areas meet and exchange ideas. For example, that lawyer who grows plants? “He started developing a course on plant lights” – indoor lightbulbs that help plants grow – says Arthur. The conference “really embodied the real-life experience of Pinterest for employees to bring people into this mindset of creating, sharing and learning”.

This then developed into a three-day event last May – Pinterest Live – at which external influencers such as reality TV star and hairstylist Jonathan Van Ness and Pinterest creator presented live streams. “We really improved our programming game,” says Arthur. “We got 25 episodes in three days. “We had people from all different backgrounds, all levels of creators, and we saw what resonated. We learned a lot about how people get involved and then built that into the technology. ”For Pinterest TV.

As for the future, Arthur and Temple playfully deflect the idea that Pinterest TV could develop into its own independent app, similar to the Home Shopping Network, with TwoTwenty helping to produce and program content. “We can imagine that,” says Arthur without going into further detail.

“There are so many options in this area,” says Temple. “It’s just a process of learning as we go.”


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