Pinerly Shows Brands Are Crazy for Pinterest

Pinterest’s early success has caught the attention of many, including the tech press, everyday users, and legal experts. But the site also offers huge potential opportunity for brands, since it’s designed to foster viral consumerism in a way that neither Facebook or Twitter can really match. With its photo-focused sharing and virtual catalog-inspired layouts, its ripe for brand marketing strategy integration, and no one knows that better than Toronto-based startup Pinerly.

Pinerly provides a dashboard for Pinterest, one that allows brands to track meaningful metrics regarding their pins. It can help businesses intelligently manage Pinterest campaigns, by also providing pin scheduling and follow/unfollow controls. While the services are useful tools even for ordinary users, Pinerly CEO and co-founder Rick Kats told us in an interview that the startup has its sights firmly fixed on business customers.

Kats said the idea for Pinerly came from his own experience trying to drive traffic to a previous endeavor, setNight.com, a nightlife planning tool. “A lot of the issues that we ran into with setNight were around marketing,” he said. “So we were kind of figuring out ways to use social media to drive more traffic, so we were using Facebook and Twitter, and we were actually using Pinterest sometimes. That’s when we noticed Pinterest was actually driving a lot more traffic [than the other networks.]”

That led to the concept behind Pinerly, which Kats said was designed as a simple, easy-to-use marketing tool to help other businesses maximize that positive marketing effect from Pinterest. Kats said that while Pinterest is a great consumer service, it’s lacking a lot of features that would appeal to brands.

“I never know who actually clicks on my pins, and which pins are doing better from a traffic perspective,” he said. “So it’s hard to tell if your approach is working. That’s one of the things we built into Pinerly, to help brands actually know which pins are doing better than others.”

Pinerly provides metrics and analytics to customers for pin campaigns created through its own tools, not those that originated on Pinterest itself. Kats said the team spent a lot of time making sure the experience of creating pins originating on Pinerly was as pleasant as doing it through the website, and he told us the team is also working on making a simple bookmarklet so people can pin anything easily from their browser and still get the metrics Pinerly provides.

The site will offer users tiered subscription plans when it launches, using an SaaS model to drive revenue. Kats said that people will be able to access most of what Pinerly provides, including analytics, for free, but that brands that want things like multiple user accounts or multiple Pinterest account management, as well as reports and scheduled pins beyond a certain set limit, will have to upgrade to a paid plan depending on their needs. Pro analytics will also provide geographical data about where visitors are originating from.

Already, Kats says interest is sky-high for the product. After only a little over a week in closed beta, he said the site already has over 30,000 on their waiting list, and he told us that major media companies and brands have already come calling about using the tool for their own campaigns, though he couldn’t disclose their identities since discussions are ongoing.

As for challenges, Pinerly faces a few. There’s the fact that it depends heavily on continued access to Pinterest, which recently took down its API. Kats said he’s been in contact with the Pinterest team, however, which has been working with Pinerly to help make sure it has access to its new API, which it plans to relaunch soon. Kats also said that Pinerly isn’t doing too many API calls at the moment, and can work with the read-only API if necessary.

There’s also the possibility that an established player like Hootsuite could add Pinterest to its existing offerings of Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and other social networking management tools. Kats doesn’t see that as a threat, partially because Pinerly is there first, and also because he believes the tool is fundamentally simpler and easy to access than more multi-focal tools like Hootsuite. All-in-one social media management will be a hard value prospect for brands to turn down, however.

Pinerly has a good head start in terms of providing sophisticated brand tools for dealing with Pinterest, however, and the timing is definitely right for the new company, so long as the newest hot social network manages to tiptoe around potential legal problems and continues its success.

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