이미지 공유 플랫폼 핀터레스트(Pinterest)가 올해 광고 수익이 $1 billion(약 1조 원)을 넘길 것으로 예측된다.
핀터레스트는 지난해 모바일 광고를 중심으로 $500 million(약 560억) 이상의 수익을 기록했고, 상승세가 계속된다면, 올해 광고 수익은 두 배 이상 뛰어오를 것으로 전망된다.
2019년 2분기에 기업공개(IPO)를 앞둔 핀터레스트는 최대 $1 billion(약 1조 원) 이상의 광고 수익을 낼 수도 있을 것이라고 전문가들은 예측했다.
핀터레스트 주가도 나날이 상승 중이다. 현재 확인된 주가는 $13 billion(약 14조)과 $15 billion(약 16조) 사이를 유지하고 있는데, 이는 2017년 6월 $12.3 billion(약 13조)을 넘긴 가격이다.
핀터레스트의 매출 대부분은 ‘핀(pin)’ 기능의 도움이 컸던 것으로 추측된다. 이 기능은 사용자들의 요리법부터 의류, 생활용품 및 여행 장소와 같은 관심 분야를 한꺼번에 모아 볼 수 있고, 데이터를 기반하여 노출되기 때문에 정확하고 효율적인 광고 타깃팅도 가능하다고 업체 측은 설명했다.
미국 하바스 미디어 쉐인 앤케니 사장은 “사용자가 관심 있는 주제를 스스로 선정해 보여주고 있기 때문에, 이 데이터들이 모여 거대한 인사이트 엔진이 될 것”으로 내다봤다.
핀터레스트를 이용하는 광고주들은 최근 1년 사이 엄청난 성장을 기록했다고 전했다. 특히 이미지 노출과 검색 광고를 하나로 묶는 거대한 플랫폼으로 확대됐고, 다양한 분야의 브랜드들이 모여 더욱 활성화 되어가는 중이라고 전했다.
디지타스(Digitas) 사회 전략 그룹 빌리 보울리아 이사는 “여행 업계와 금융 회사들도 핀터레스트 플랫폼을 최근 활용하기 시작했고, 포털 기능에 있어서 상당한 영향력을 행사하고 있다”라고 말했다.
메리 미커가 2016년에 발행한 ‘인터넷 트렌드 리포트’에 따르면, 핀터레스트 사용자 중 55%가 웹사이트를 통해 실제 구매까지 하고 있는 것으로 밝혀졌다. 반면에 페이스북과 인스타그램은 12%에 그쳤고 트위터는 9%밖에 되지 않는 것으로 조사됐다. 다른 플랫폼 대비 핀터레스트 사용자들의 구매가 더 많았다는 것을 반증하는 결과다.
OMD 크리에이트(OMD Create) 케리펄스 이사는 “최근 이슈 된 개인 정보 보호 문제로부터 핀터레스트는 안전한 편”이라고 말했다.
하지만 핀터레스트는 온라인 광고 영역에서 급성장을 이루는 비디오 콘텐츠는 적용하고 있지 않다. 대부분의 사용자가 여성으로 한정돼, 다양한 목소리를 담기에는 한계점이 있는 것으로 보인다.
Pinterest has taken a long time to justify its monstrous private market valuation. However, the social media company is finally approaching $1 billion in ad revenue as it pushes toward an IPO in mid-2019, according to people familiar with the matter.
After hitting $500 million in sales in 2017, Pinterest is on pace to almost double that this year, said the people, who asked not to be named because the company’s financials are private. Pinterest is having particular success with mobile ads, as the site becomes a more popular place for big fashion and beauty brands to get in front of the company’s 200 million monthly active users.
In targeting a public market debut in the second quarter of 2019, Pinterest could join a group of high-valued and high-profile consumer start-ups that are aiming to hit the market around the same time. Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi has said that the ride-hailing company expects to go public next year, and Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky said at the Code Conference in May that his hospitality company will “be ready to IPO next year, but I don’t know if we will.”
A Pinterest spokesperson declined to comment.
Investors are already getting more bullish on Pinterest. Trades on the secondary market value the company at between $13 billion and $15 billion, said people with knowledge of the matter. That is up from a valuation of $12.3 billion at the time of its last financing round in June 2017.
Pinterest users “pin” items they like so that their friends and followers can view curated lists of subjects such as recipes, clothing items, household goods and places to travel. That all provides valuable and targeted data about consumers’ interests and their intent to buy.
“People are pinning literally what they are interested in,” said Shane Ankeney, president of Havas Media Group North America, one of the largest ad agencies. “We use it as a huge insights engine.”
It’s a tall task to break up the digital advertising duopoly of Google and Facebook, which control a combined 57 percent of U.S. digital ad spending, according to eMarketer. The Interactive Advertising Bureausizes the domestic market at $88 billion in 2017 and growing, and advertisers are increasingly looking for ways to diversify their budgets and bolster competition.
Nobody’s been able to do it so far.
Snap went public in 2017, aiming to sell advertisers on the promise of reaching younger users who were more engaged in texting with one another than sharing things on social networks. However, Facebook has successfully mimicked many of Snapchat’s most popular features, making it difficult for Snap to make money and pushing the stock down more than 20 percent from its offering price.
Snap’s revenue more than doubled in 2017 to $824.9 million, while its net loss widened more than six-fold to $3.5 billion, mostly related to stock-based compensation costs.
Pinterest has also struggled to become relevant in digital advertising. Reaching $1 billion in revenue will mark a significant milestone, but it’s way below previous estimates. In 2015, TechCrunch reported on leaked financial documents that showed Pinterest was then projecting sales of $2.8 billion by 2018.
Advertisers and people familiar with the company say Pinterest has found its footing in the past year and, by combining visual, social and search ads into one platform, has become an important place for retail, fashion, home goods, beauty and do-it-yourself brands. Travel and financial companies are also experimenting on Pinterest, said Billy Boulia, vice president and group director of social strategy at Digitas.
“No platform capitalizes on the social-search marriage like Pinterest does,” Boulia said.
So-called buyable pins allow customers to turn other people’s posts into a shopping experience, by checking out pricing and buying the items if they desire. While that shopping behavior may seem foreign on other platforms, Pinterest’s users are finding it more common.
In Mary Meeker’s 2016 Internet Trends Report, the analyst-turned-venture capitalist said that 55 percent of Pinterest users were using the site to find and shop for products, compared with only 12 percent for Facebook and Instagram and 9 percent for Twitter. Pinterest CEO Ben Silbermann has said in private meetings that he sees a big opportunity for e-commerce, according to a person familiar with the matter.
‘Its very own niche’
Additionally, Pinterest has avoided the safety and privacy issues, like online bullying and misinformation, that have plagued other platforms, said Kerry Perse, a managing director at ad agency OMD Create.
“Within the last 12 months, Pinterest has really found its very own niche as it relates to how people use the platform as well as how advertisers view the platform itself,” Perse said.
Silbermann, Brougher and the ad team have plenty of work to do at Pinterest.
The platform doesn’t cater to video, which has been a major growth areas for online ads. Pinterest also has to show physical retailers that its visual search capabilities can drive traffic into stores. And the company must contend with a view in the industry that it’s only really used by women, even though there are categories like fashion and home improvement that are popular with men.
Perse said that among her company’s clients, “some of them feel like its only good for a specific audience.”