Only days after announcing the launch of ads, social networking site Pinterest is now making an appeal to publishers. The company is today rolling out an updated “article” pin type, which is designed to expand Pinterest’s reach beyond those pinning photographs or product images linking to e-commerce sites to those also interested in saving and sharing stories they’re finding around the web.
The updated article pins will now include more information such as the headline, author, story description, and link to the source right on the pin itself.
Of course, Pinterest previously allowed users to pin articles — in fact, the service lets its users enter any URL they choose, and add those links to boards for better categorization. But until now, these pins would only include an image and small link to the post.
With today’s changes, Pinterest notes that all the articles pinned to the site in the past will be updated to the new look-and-feel without any extra effort on the pinner’s part. For media publishers, like TechCrunch, who have been using the service as a way to curate content for readers, the extra metadata will show up automatically.
Pinterest touts the new article pins as a feature targeting what’s now a common behavior on the site – currently, more than 5 million of the pins per day are article pins. The company tells us also that it has heard from a number of media publishers using its “Pin It” button, including BuzzFeed, who are finding Pinterest to now be a top referrer of traffic.
Pinterest has already been catering to this group in some ways. For example, it recently began offering tips to publishers and other bloggers to help them better understand what kind of images and tags work best on Pinterest, and how they can choose which images on their site make the most sense for readers to pin.
The addition of the more useful article pins is only one of many changes taking place at Pinterest this year, as the company moves to turn its growing traction into a real, monetizable business. It has been steadily improving the functionality of its pins, starting with the debut of its “more useful” pin initiative this spring, which focused initially on pins with information related to products, recipes and movies. It later added price-alerting functionality to e-commerce pins in order to notify pinners when products dropped in price. And this month, it announced it would begin testing ads that appear in search results and category feeds, based on relevancy and recommendation algorithms also rolled out this summer as part of Pinterest’s larger push into personalization.
PINTEREST AS A BOOKMARKING TOOL, “READ IT LATER” SERVICE
Today, there are plenty of examples of users sharing articles on the site, not only from news publishers, but also in the form of how-to’s and other blog posts from various communities — Pinterest’s new hub for teachers, for example. But still much of Pinterest’s content consists of things with a traditionally image-heavy, text-light, and female-friendly appeal, like fashion, home goods, DIY or craft projects, children’s clothing, toys or other project ideas, decorating tips, gift ideas, recipes, and more. (According to Pew Internet’s data from earlier this year, women are five times as likely to use Pinterest as men, in fact.)
The move to expand the focus to articles and news content, then, could potentially position Pinterest as a modern-day bookmarking tool akin to Delicious, or even a competitor to “read it later” services like Instapaper or Pocket. The company’s official blog post even spoke to this possibility, saying: “when you come across articles you may not have time to read, or just want to keep for later, you can save them to your own reading list board. For example, you may be reading a lot about healthy living, so you could save the most interesting articles to a healthy reading board.”
The post went on to reference a number of celebrities and journalists using the site to pin articles and news, as well as a large list of high-profile publishers pinning on the site today, including The New York Times, Fortune, The Guardian, Le Monde, Telegraph, TIME, Rolling Stone, Word and Film, Fast Company, French Web, Mashable, Wired, Travel + Leisure, Fodors.com, Esquire, GQ, Vogue Paris, Babble, iVillage, Everyday eBook, Biographile, The New Yorker, Men’s Journal, Food + Wine, Tastebook, BuzzFeed, Huffington Post and Us Weekly.
Longer term, the improved article pins speak to Pinterest’s goals in developing an “interest graph” of sorts for its users, which would help it better target pin and board recommendations, as well as ads. The stories we read, save and share are another data point that indicates what kind of content we like, allowing Pinterest to segment its users into various demographic buckets. Plus, being able to use Pinterest as a more visually heavy “read it later” kind of service could also broaden its appeal among men, who may have not yet found much use for Pinterest in the past.
The updated article pins are rolling out to the web now, and will show up soon on mobile, too.