Pinterest's value is high because it trades on adland's new currency - influence

Pinterest has been valued at a huge $12bn, which has sparked discussion in the ad industry, with marketers wondering how they can capitalise on the 'quiet' social network.

The rise of platforms like Pinterest should be welcomed, argues Matt Donegan
The rise of platforms like Pinterest should be welcomed, argues Matt Donegan

The big questions are: does the platform live up to this valuation and what will this hold for influencer marketing?

To me, it’s no real surprise the valuation is high. The app leads people direct from browsing to online outlets, via the use of user’s ‘boards’.

Also see: 'Rewarding bad behaviour' – almost half of PR pros don't follow influencer rules

It directly capitalises on ‘influence’, which is the new currency in advertising, as consumers increasingly reject traditional advertising models and leave the businesses behind them in uncertain times.

Ever since their rise, we have made a bet on influencers, seeing them gaining serious ground against traditional advertising across YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat.

Pinterest has a different model to these platforms as you follow content instead of people - but many of the principles are the same: influence and 'shop-ability' are key to success, offering those things in tandem in a way traditional advertising has failed to do for the youth market.

However, with great power comes great responsibility and this couldn’t be more true for influencers and brands.

As the market becomes increasingly saturated, campaigns must be unique, transparent and trustworthy.

Otherwise, the whole nature of this subset becomes a little false. We must avoid chasing the low-hanging fruit of influencer marketing by sending out countless briefs to agencies asking for cheap, short-term solutions.

This is the worst way to manage potential. As a brand you need a cultural fit for your product, whether that’s an influencer that genuinely likes what you’re selling, or promoted pins around content that’s a natural fit for your brand.

It just doesn’t serve to shoehorn anything in within this space, and it’s becoming more of an issue as more influencers flood the space.

Authenticity isn’t the only challenge, however.

Transparency is another key piston in the engine of influence, and another serious gain to be had over traditional ad models.

Looking at Pinterest in particular, it’s used by traditional media such as Vogue and the Daily Mail Online for example as a bridge between magazines, social and direct shop-ability.

The devil will be in the measurement as it looks to communicate that value proposition to the market. There’s a fine line that has to be walked when it comes to measuring value in the influencer space, whereby engagement is key.

I hate to make an obvious and well-worn statement, but when it comes to an audience size simply doesn’t matter.

We have to focus on measuring value creation rather than charging the earth for large, disparate and disengaged audiences, and conversely under-valuing niche, highly engaged audiences that can drive real value for brands, if only the right partnerships are struck.

In short, it shouldn’t matter how much talent joins the influencer market so long as authenticity and transparency remain as its cornerstones - and the rise of platforms like Pinterest should be welcomed as a sign that advertising is fully embracing the new era of influence.

Matt Donegan is managing director at Social Circle

Check out PRWeek UK's in-depth guide to social media influencers here

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