Pinbooster cofounder Dave Weinberg has been working feverishly to get a platform for sponsoring pins on Pinterest launched before any competitors do.
He’s not aware of any specific competitors right now. But given the nation’s Pinterest obsession—he gets a Google Alert every hour with 50 new Pinterest news articles—he’s sure others will have the same idea. “I just have to imagine that there is some kid somewhere coding in the mid of the night trying to come out with something great as quick as he can,” he told Betabeat this morning. “Someone’s going to build something.”
It would appear that for now, Pinbooster has the market for sponsored pins cornered. The site, which will allow advertisers to commission pins from power users, officially launched today.
Mr. Weinberg is based in Washington, D.C. and his cofounder Ariel Remer is based in Toronto. They are Pinterest superfans. “It’s the best. It’s just the best,” Mr. Weinberg enthused. “We are huge Pinterest fans. We are total addicts, our wives are total addicts.” Post about a fun park for the kids in D.C. on Facebook, he said, and the post disappears into a black hole four hours later; put it on your “Things To Do” Pinterest board, and people will keep going back to it. “It’s this archived, organic thing that grows, so if you ever look at ‘Things To Do,’ it’s there. We love it, that’s why we built this. Because we’re massive fans.”
Pinterest, which hit 10 million visitors faster than any other website, saw its growth slow in March. Even so, it now gets 20 million unique visitors, double-digit growth and some of the highest engagement on the web. Advertisers want to get in on this action, but Pinterest does not offer paid products for advertisers yet (although it does grudgingly encourage brands to create branded pages similar to Facebook pages). Pinterest doesn’t event have an API.
The only service similar to Pinbooster, as far as we found, is SponsoredTweets.com, a marketplace where advertisers can find Twitter users to plug their products or tweet their links. (A Snooki endorsement costs $7,800 per tweet.) Pinbooster works much the same way.
Users sign up for Pinbooster with their Pinterest accounts, fill out a profile describing the categories they typically pin in, and set a price they’d like to be paid per pin. (Pinbooster will suggest a price based on the user’s number of followers, but the user can override this suggestion.) “There is no way for advertisers, brands, organizations to reach out to users that might be incredibly influential on Pinterest,” Mr. Weinberg said. “Pinbooster does just that. It connects brands to users and asks users to pin stuff on their behalf.”
The advertisers’ end of the deal can also be done entirely online. Let’s say Zappos, which recently started promoting its Wedding Shop, wanted to buy an ad on Pinbooster. Zappos would pick the image, text or video it wanted users to pin—a Badgley Mischka tiered white gown, let’s say. Zappos writes a description, sets a bid for how much it wants to pay per pin, decide the total budget for the campaign, and sends out the offer to Pinbooster users filtered by location and number of followers.
Any Pinbooster users who accept the offer have the chance to rewrite the ad in their own words, although it must be tagged #ad in order to comply with FCC regulations. Ads written in a pinners’ own words are more authentic and more likely to be effective, Mr. Weinberg said.
“We have no interest in the spam market,” he said. “If you share it from your own voice, it’s real. You should only be sharing stuff that makes sense to you.” By his reading, Pinbooster is compliant with Pinterest’s terms of service. Pinterest did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Once a pinner edits the ad, the new version gets sent back to the advertiser for final approval. Once approved, the Pinbooster manually pins the ad. Pinbooster also tracks stats for each campaign, so advertisers can see how many people clicked, repinned, “liked” and commented on the ad.
Pinbooster’s cofounders spent weeks talking to ad agencies and brands, asking “What do you think? We want to build it with you in mind.” The response was, to put it mildly, encouraging. Without making much noise, Pinbooster had hundreds of users sign up within its first week of existence in March. The site officially “opens” today and will send out invites to the users on its waitlist. New users will be put on a list to get invites to control for volume. “We built this platform to scale,” he said. “We have a number of companies that are ready to come in and start spending.” Still, he hedged, “I don’t like to put out expectations.”
The business model, in this case, is easy: Pinbooster takes a 25 percent cut of each sponsored pin. “We were just going by similar platforms on Twitter,” Mr. Weinberg said. “We’re not trying to compete on price. It’s about the relationship and the ease of service.”