Pinterest Puts Its Own Spin on Video Ads With These Cinematic Pins

And gives brands a way to target based on interests

Pinterest ads are now more on point. The social network has started letting brands target audiences, and it has a new kind of Promoted Pin—one that's animated.

The ad updates come more than a year after Pinterest first started selling Promoted Pins, and the changes are a big step for its ad technology. Brands will be able to target about a dozen audience types from foodies to gardening enthusiasts to millennials. The new animated ads are called Cinematic Pins, and they are a bit different from the moving ads developed by rivals like Facebook and Twitter.

On those platforms, videos start when you stop scrolling over them and stop when you scroll away. On Pinterest, the opposite happens. The Cinematic Pins are seen in motion as the user scrolls, but the motion stops when the scrolling stops.

"Users want to feel like they're in control, and we've done a bunch of user testing—users are delighted by this experience," said Tim Kendall, Pinterest's gm of monetization. "They wind up scrolling back and forth. They love controlling the motion."

A number of brands already have tested the feature, including Unilever, The Gap, L'Oreal, Nestlé, Walgreens, Target, Visa and Wendy's.

"Wendy's views Pinterest as a great opportunity to tell its brand story in a way that differentiates them, specifically around the brand's quality, service and values," group creative director at VML Chris Corley, who helped create the campaign, said in an email to Adweek. 

Not surprisingly, Wendy's is targeting women with its Pinterest push (the platform's heaviest users are women). The Cinematic Pins will highlight Wendy's strawberry salad, showing the berries as they transform from field to table.

"The creative is focused on the strawberry story and the care and quality that goes into every step of the journey," Corley wrote.

The Cinematic Pins and audience targeting are part of Pinterest's new three-stage advertising offering that starts with awareness marketing. The advertisers pay on a cost-per-thousand-view basis.

Then there's a marketing model based on consumer intent—when they're still deciding on a potential purchase. This type of marketing lets brands buy ads based on a cost-per-click or cost-per-engagement basis—they pay when users click on or share a Promoted Pin.

In the third phase, ads are sold on a cost-per-action basis when an app is installed or a sale completed. "We only want them to pay us when the ads create that value," Kendall said. "It takes the risk out of it for marketers."

Kendall said Pinterest is showing brands impressive engagement rates—for every 100 Promoted Pin impressions, brands see 30 free views thanks to repinning. "That's a really high rate of earned media," he said.

Pinterest does not say how much revenue it generates in ad sales annually, and it still is a private company. But, it gets about 76 million monthly visitors, according to comScore.

The platform, which lets people curate digital pin boards for projects and wish lists, is seen as an accurate marketing window into consumer behavior.

"Our users interact with these Promoted Pins in a lot of different ways, and they're basically planning their futures," Kendall said. "People are telling us they're planning on cooking or going somewhere or building a garden."

To help brands become part of those plans, Pinterest also introduced a creative studio to work with them on designing effective Promoted Pins. The studio is called the Pin Factory and will only be available to brands committed to a certain level of spending. (Pinterest did not say how much they have to spend.)

Pinterest is not the only social network to offer premium services to its highest-paying brands. Facebook has been known to give white-glove treatment to advertisers with at least $1 million to spend, for instance.