Although reports trickling in are raising questions around Pinterest’s ability to convert its network of enthusiastic photo sharers to e-commerce shoppers, the site itself is still growing quickly. According to new data released by Shareaholic this morning, Pinterest has beaten out Yahoo organic traffic, making Pinterest the fourth largest traffic driver worldwide. In addition, the company found that Google, Yahoo, and Bing organic traffic decreased by 15.63% on average since January, which the firm speculates may indicate more people are discovering content through social sites like Pinterest.
But it could also be because Shareaholic’s data, which comes from a network of 200,000 publishers using its social sharing and content analysis tools, is more likely to reflect an engaged community where people are comfortable with using social networking sites to perform searches. In other words, it’s not a big picture study here – just a slice.
That being said, Shareaholic predicted Pinterest was on track to pass Yahoo organic traffic back in August, after watching trends on its network related to the social network’s growth. From May to June, Pinterest’s referral traffic grew by 43.7% and from June to July, it grew by 15.97% – a slowdown, yes, but still a decent climb. And from July to August, Pinterest grew again, this time by 33.33% – that is, by 1.38% of the traffic to 1.84% of the traffic.
The social network also sent more referral traffic than Google+, LinkedIn and YouTube combined in January, Twitter in February, and StumbleUpon, Bing, and Google referral traffic in June. However, it’s still far, far behind Google organic traffic, as well as direct and Facebook referral traffic.
Pinterest’s growth, of course, is notable. But it also puts pressure on the company to figure out its path to monetization now that it has all these eyeballs. As one e-commerce startup put it recently (source: shopping service Kaleidoscope’s Director of Business Development, Sarah Kunst), “Pinterest is a great firehose of traffic, but the users don’t necessarily become weekly active or daily active users.” However, the world’s largest retailer, Walmart, is making plans to include trending “pins” (Pinterest posts) as one of the signals it listens to in its newly revealed e-commerce search engine. At the time, Sri Subramaniam, VP of Engineering at @WalmartLabs, told me that the retailer thinks that the act of pinning can signal buying “intent.” But if the social network can’t map that intent to purchases, its ability to woo advertisers (brands and merchants alike) will be limited. That perhaps leaves its only exit possibility as an acquisition. (Hmm, is anyone else thinking about a Yahoo+Flickr mashup?)