The internet economy may be one of the brightest spots in today’s global economy, but the hits taken by shares of publicly-traded prominent internet brands like Facebook, Zynga and Groupon has definitely had an impact on venture backed companies, many of which have had and will have a more difficult time convincing investors that they’re worth as much as they might have been able to convince them they’re worth a couple of years ago.
You wouldn’t know that, however, looking at Pinterest’s latest funding round, which made headlines last week. The image-based social network is on the verge of becoming the second most popular social media site in the United States, and despite the fact that it hasn’t figured out how to make money, investors poured $200m into the young company at a $2.5bn valuation.
BYOB: bring your own bandwagon
Brand marketers looking to jump on the Pinterest bandwagon haven’t exactly found it easy to do. Unlike more mature social cousins such as Twitter and Facebook, Pinterest doesn’t have an API, and offers marketers very little in the way of extras, leaving those marketers on their own to figure out how they can capitalize on the Pinterest opportunity.
Not surprisingly, companies hawking Pinterest tools, such as analytics dashboards, have emerged to fill the void, and some are gaining traction thanks to surging marketer interest in Pinterest. Naturally, few of these companies are expecting their Pinterest gold rushes to last forever. At some point it is all but certain that Pinterest, like Twitter before it, will move in and look to seize for itself the opportunities it finds to be the most attractive.
Failing to plan is planning to fail
Pinterest representatives haven’t hinted that a revenue model is just around the corner — they’re taking the tried and true approach of claiming focus on developing and growing a fantastic product — but with the company’s latest $200m haul bringing its total funding to more than $300m, it seems ever more likely that we’ll see a revenue model emerge over the next 12 months.
Obviously, for planning purposes, it would be unwise to place bets on what Pinterest’s revenue model will mean for the ‘unofficial’ Pinterest ecosystem that has developed. But it’s not too early for brand marketers active on the social network to assume that changes will come, and to start thinking about what a revenue model will mean for them and any tools they have adopted to manage, grow and monitor their Pinterest activities.