Pinterest’s Head of Engineering Outlines the Future of the Interest Graph

By Devon Glenn 

Pinterest boards are at the heart of a sophisticated “interest graph” that Pinterest engineers say will revolutionize the way brands and marketers discover what people are interested in.

Speaking at a press Whiteboard held at Pinterest’s SOMA headquarters last night in San Francisco, Pinterest head of engineering Jon Jenkins explained that, sort of like Facebook’s social graph, Pinterest’s infrastructure can show relationships between pins on Pinterest to make a better browsing experience for the user and provide more insights for marketers and brands.

ZDNet’s Rachel King reports:

As far as how the data becomes generated, Jenkins stressed that “a pin can’t exist unless it’s assigned to a board” as the concept of board “is a really fundamental thing” that carries context.

He continued that part of the puzzle is identifying and solving “adjacent interests.” Jenkins described this as having different users pinning similar objects for different reasons.

Pinterest’s recently launched feed editor can then use the information that boards provide to make recommendations for other content on Pinterest. Jenkins also outlined plans for a contextual menu, expected to roll out in a couple weeks, that shows the relationships between boards. While he hinted at creating an API for developers to use the technology for their own projects, he did not outline a timeframe.

Recommended content is something that Amazon and plenty of other online retailers already have (think “people who viewed this also viewed…”), but Pinterest’s bookmarking system goes one step further in that pinners will have already put these products in categories that explain why they’ve bookmarked it while Pinterest’s algorithm is deciding which pins to show them next.

And since Pinterest isn’t just a site for shopping, the users may reveal the people, places, or ideas that they generally like or believe in as well as the products that they want in the near future.

Merchants and publishers from Target to Rotten Tomatoes have already teamed with Pinterest on adding descriptions, prices, and logos to make their pins more robust. Today, Pinterest also started rolling out product notifications that will alert pinners by email when the price on an item they’ve bookmarked has gone down.

In the next year, Jenkins said Pinterest will be working on improving the functionality and adding value to the pins.