Pinterest, Twitter Step Up Their Analytics Games

Both moves help third-party marketing developers

Social data can be as messy as a two-year-old. And most marketers are like new parents, still coming to grips with how to deal with social data and more importantly, the mess that is social analytics. And like toddlers learning to walk, talk and feed themselves, social platforms are still working out how best to help that process.

That all can take some time, sometimes longer than marketers might like. But this week Pinterest and Twitter respectively (and finally) introduced and enhanced their analytics platforms.

On Tuesday—almost exactly four months after unveiling pages for businesses—Pinterest announced Pinterest Web Analytics as a way for brands to track how users are interacting with them on the social scrapbooking platform. Marketers will be able to track measures like their most repinned and clicked upon brand pins. Those with verified websites can measure how many people have pinned items from their sites, how many people saw those pins and how many people clicked through from Pinterest to the brand’s site.

“This is the first step to building more analytics tools,” said Pinterest spokesperson Annie Ta. The initial platform is designed to help people “understand what type of content is working on Pinterest.”

Then on Wednesday Twitter beefed up its ads insights platform to give marketers the increased granularity they’ve been clamoring for. The most notable change is the ability for advertisers to track how their Promoted Tweets performed beyond their initial target audience, including the ability to only view stats for that secondary audience. In other words, Twitter can now gauge the full ripple effect of campaigns, so that advertisers can see engagement metrics like the number of retweets and replies received from users who encounter Promoted Tweets that weren't necessarily aimed at them.

Now advertisers can also dive into who’s interacting with a Promoted Tweet or Promoted Account campaign, breaking down the audience by device, location, gender and interest. Those categories also happen to hold specified segments for advertisers to target their campaigns against, meaning the more detailed reporting should lead to finer-tuned targeting. But that enhanced precision doesn’t have to be limited to Twitter campaigns. Twitter is now able to provide insight into secondary interests for tweets that get passed around. For example, an advertiser can see that a campaign targeted to Californian guys interested in basketball also reached a number of users who are into action movies.

Twitter’s changes will also be good news for its ads API partners, once Twitter gives those third-party developers the ability to report back to clients more detailed campaign performance stats otherwise only available through the social network, which a Twitter rep said the company will do eventually. That brings us back to Pinterest.

Pinterest has famously yet to roll out any kind of API that would let developers build products designed to help better brands use the platform. Despite that absence, some third-party companies have created analytics products to help brands measure their Pinterest presence. A danger for those companies has always been the possibility of Pinterest rolling out its own analytics product that marketers may trust more or altogether cutting off developers’ abilities to analyze Pinterest data. On Tuesday the former possibility became reality, minus any death knell for developers.

Ta said that Pinterest is happy the third-party developers have cropped up to work with businesses because they “provide services we probably won’t provide all of [and those companies are] able to work with businesses at a deeper level than we’re able to provide.” Pinterest gave a number of those companies the heads up ahead of the analytics platform’s launch, though Ta declined to say how early they were notified.

Apu Gupta, CEO and co-founder of visual analytics firm Curalate, called Pinterest’s news “an expected move” that will help brands’ sites relationships with their Pinterest presence and mirrors Facebook’s Insights platform. “However, just as with Facebook, Pinterest's offering leaves plenty of room for the more robust analytics, management, and marketing capabilities of the emerging Pinterest ecosystem,” he said. Specifically he pointed to the ability to connect how image sharing on Pinterest impacts e-commerce, display ads, email marketing and broader social media efforts.

Pinfluencer CEO and co-founder Sharad Verma echoed Gupta in saying that the Pinterest Web Analytics dashboard “will enable small businesses to answer some basic questions around their top pins and impressions” but that the really valuable insights, particularly for large enterprise marketers, come from tying Pinterest data with other sources.

“The obvious limitation is that Pinterest does not integrate with website revenue analytics or website categories, and hence does not report on which pins are driving most revenue or if the time-on-site from Pinterest traffic is going up or down,” Verma said.

A challenge for Curalate, Pinfluencer and their ilk, however, is that only Pinterest’s analytics platform can provide marketers an accurate report on Pinterest impressions and reach, as Verma pointed out. Whether that’s a minor hindrance may depend on the marketer, and whether Pinterest decides to open up that information to developers. “Right now we don’t have any specific plans to share [about introducing developer tools],” Ta said.