Pinterest adds autoplay video ads to feeds, search results

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Consider the video ads that Pinterest debuted last summer a pilot for the type it’s now premiering.

Pinterest is rolling out Promoted Videos that will play automatically without sound and appear in people’s feeds, within search results and within the Related Pins galleries beneath individual pins, the company announced on Wednesday. As with the click-to-play Promoted Videos that Pinterest introduced in August 2016, the ads will only show up in Pinterest’s mobile apps.

Pinterest is testing the autoplay video ads with several brands, including Adidas, L’Oreal, Toyota, Universal Pictures and Visa, and plans to open them up to all advertisers some time “in the coming months” to buy through Pinterest’s self-serve ad-buying tool or advertising API or directly from the company’s sales team, according to a company blog post. The videos can be up to 30 minutes long and in any format, though Pinterest recommends they be vertical or square, said a Pinterest spokesperson.

When Pinterest rolled out Promoted Videos last year, they were more of an add-on than an ad. They would initially show up as animated GIFs, or Cinematic Pins, in people’s feeds, and people had to click on those GIFs in order to see the actual video. That likely curtailed the number of views brands’ ads received and pushed Pinterest to adopt the autoplay variety, as Twitter had done after initially adopting click-to-play only.

Since the video ads play automatically and are therefore more likely to get views, they will likely also cost less for advertisers, as has been the case with Twitter’s autoplay video adssince it relaxed its viewability standard. Pinterest will charge advertisers based on the number of impressions their ads receive. So if someone swipes past an ad within a second of it playing, the advertiser still has to pay, but if a person clicks on the ad to watch it with the sound on, the advertiser doesn’t have to pay any more. It’s the inverse of YouTube’s TrueView ads that are free when people skip past them but expensive when they actually watch.

Some advertisers may like the bargain of buying these ads based on impressions, but others may want to know that people not only saw their ads but watched them. To that end, Pinterest will let Nielsen measure the reach of those ads, including viewers’ age and gender, and soon-to-be-owned-by-Oracle Moat track how much of the ad was watched and how much of it appeared on screen. Advertisers will also be able to retarget viewers who watched their Promoted Videos with follow-up ads on Pinterest.

For advertisers like Unilever and its media agency GroupM that push against autoplaying ads, Pinterest will continue to sell its click-to-play Promoted Videos, though only through its direct sales team.

About The Author

Tim Peterson, Third Door Media’s Social Media Reporter, has been covering the digital marketing industry since 2011. He has reported for Advertising Age, Adweek and Direct Marketing News. A born-and-raised Angeleno who graduated from New York University, he currently lives in Los Angeles. He has broken stories on Snapchat’s ad plans, Hulu founding CEO Jason Kilar’s attempt to take on YouTube and the assemblage of Amazon’s ad-tech stack; analyzed YouTube’s programming strategy, Facebook’s ad-tech ambitions and ad blocking’s rise; and documented digital video’s biggest annual event VidCon, BuzzFeed’s branded video production process and Snapchat Discover’s ad load six months after launch. He has also developed tools to monitor brands’ early adoption of live-streaming apps, compare Yahoo’s and Google’s search designs and examine the NFL’s YouTube and Facebook video strategies.


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