Pinterest has take the social sphere by storm, further fueling our digital-visual obsession and spawning a series of knock-offs. And it’s also inspired the pants off of third party developers. The company has had its hands full keeping up with copyright concerns and spam problems, so outside parties have plenty of room to flex their creative muscles.
Perhaps the most promising area of development is that of Pinterest analytics. The platform is a true marketing powerhouse, and tools for measuring engagement and effectiveness are beginning to surface — the most sophisticated of them possibly being just-launched Curalate.
The site has been quietly working away at refining the way companies and brands can use Pinterest for marketing for the better part of a year. “It’s pretty sophisticated on the back-end, so it took several months to build,” CEO and co-founder Apu Gupta tells me. “During the last couple of months we have very selectively been reaching out to brands and agencies to work with us on shaping the product and researching how they are using it and how they intend to engage with consumers.”
There’s been a lot of research to do: Pinterest is a beast of a different nature, and this has made it a formidable challenge for brands. “When you look at social media generally on Facebook and Twitter, the conversations are happening with text — with hashtags or the “at” sign,” says Gupta. “This makes them easy to find.”
“When you get to visual platforms, the conversations are mostly happening with visuals. No one says ‘I love this sweater and it’s from J. Crew.’ They just say ‘I love this sweater,’ so traditional tools won’t find it.” Luckily, Curalate will.
Gupta also points out that traditional applications aren’t able to understand followers as well. “The types of things we share are amount of engagement, times you’ve been pinned and repinned, who is pinning this stuff, what do they like most. If you’re a retailer, there might be a pair of shoes that people are actively pinning and repinning and you find out that’s the number one thing that people like and you know you need to put that on your homepage.”
Gupta says Curlalate will make clear what have up to this point been assumptions. Part of this is thanks to its image recognition technology. These sophisticated algorithms can do what mere mortals simply can’t — or don’t want to. “If you want to know how many times a sweater was repinned, you’d have to count manually,” says Gupta. “We have a technique that plays the matching game for you and tell you how many times something showed up.”
While the system might sound complicated, Gupta says it’s been engineered so that users won’t have to spend more than 15 minutes a day looking at the user-end dashboard. The subscriptions start at $19 a month, moving on up to $49, and $99 (at launch, there will be a special limited discount: $9, $39, and $79/month). A few Pinterest analytic tools have launched in recent months, but none of them have quite the back-end and funding that Curalate does: the site launches with some $750,000 in initial funding.
I had to ask Gupta if he thought Pinterest had missed the boat here by keeping its API to itself and generally ignoring users’ request for more features. “I think Pinterest is kind of going through a similar thing that Twitter went through when they were growing explosively and I really think they are focusing on the right thing,” he says. “You have to make sure the wheels stay on the bus before you do other things. Scaling is where they’re focusing.”
And while they are doing that, Curalate’s going to jump on top of this hole in the market. “What we do is give brands insights into what theyre fans are doing and what the brand is doing and we’re the only one that can give you both sides.”