With many brands bumbling Pinterest, will Instagram become a better platform for monetization?

Instagram's mobile ad revenue is predicted to hit $2.81 billion by 2017. And this week, the platform officially switched on its advertising API. Will Instagram become a better destination for brands than Pinterest? 

Annie Heckenberger, vice president of earned media for agency RTO+P, thinks that both Pinterest and Instagram provide an opportunity for brands to engage with people using images. While her agency is not buying Pinterest ads at the moment - she does plan to in the near future - RTO+P has already started working on paid social on Instagram. She values Instagram's tremendous user base; however, she doesn't think that means advertisers should give up on the e-commerce-friendly Pinterest.

"Pinterest is a traffic driver, directly sending users to purchase when they click on an image, while Instagram is not built that way," she explains. "Instagram has an extra step to take users to transaction."

E-commerce has been a big focus for Pinterest. This past June, the platform partnered with thousands of brands, including Macy's, Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom to offer Buyable Pins, allowing users to purchase pinned products directly from their iPhones and iPads. Last May, Pinterest added a few more ad solutions to make Promoted Pins more appealing. 

But Instagram has some serious plans to capitalize on its popularity, as well, including the development of more targeted ad formats like Carousel Ads.

When it comes to which platform to use, it all comes down to target audience. Heckenberger thinks that regardless of its smaller user base, Pinterest is an effective platform for fashion category and DIY brands such as The Home Depot and Lowe's.

But it seems Pinterest is a hard nut to crack for many brands. For example, Elizabeth (Read more...) reportedly see low engagement and return on investment (ROI) on Pinterest. As a result, the cosmetics brand decided not to purchase more Pinterest ads. Heckenberger thinks that in order to stand out on Pinterest or Instagram, advertisers need to spend time customizing creatives that suit each platform.

"To my surprise, Elizabeth Arden is abandoning Pinterest because it is an inspirational place and beauty [boards] would sit right there," Heckenberger says. "Perhaps it's because Elizabeth Arden's posted product images, model pictures and beauty tips are too advertising-like instead of being Pinterest-specific to break through the platform.

"As advertisers, we are always challenged to do something different on a social media platform," she adds. "If you don't create an innovative approach tailored to a platform, it's really hard for you to make an impact."

Homepage image via Shutterstock

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