Pinterest gets into the ad “Real Estate” Business

AdTech, CEO Succession, photography, PHP, Scalability, startup, startup CEO, Tom Nora

Pinterest as we know it could be a thing of the past. Beginning January 1, 2015, Pinterest will start putting ads on its site. Real ads in the form of promoted pins. I have mixed feelings about this – I respect their right to do this and I’m happy for them to be able to get a piece of the enormous revenue stream that Google and Facebook dominate, but it will also take away the purity of Pinterest and lessen the experience a bit.

Overall, I say congratulations, you’ve earned it, Pinterest! They will now move up the food chain significantly as Fortune 500 companies can develop more formal relationships with them and build “serious” ad campaigns. All other ad industry professionals and component niches will also take a big step closer to Pinterest. This is like opening up a whole new giant beautiful piece of the web to advertisers.

But there is a cost to this for users. Pinterest is one of my favorite places to go on the Internet, one of my favorite apps. It’s an oasis in the ad strewn desert of social media. There are many indirect ads there already, especially clothing sold by affiliates, but not very intrusive to the experience.

Pinterest is a constant river of pictures, and mostly very high quality pictures, undistracted by ad text or flashing lights. It’s a respite from the rest of the web, with its rectangular boxes of advertising or the sidebar of Google ads – the high value real estate of the web that is rented to the highest bidder.

As a major fan of photography and imagery I like to go over to Pinterest to get away from all that. It’s almost like a relaxation lounge on the web. I’ve slowly built and curated my collection of pins over the past 3 years, with a bit of an eye towards social validation, but mostly to see cool photos. I’ve been pleasantly surprised thousands of times by images I’ve seen. How many products can claim that?

One of the best parts of Pinterest is that it’s participatory, a gamification of looking at photos (and memes and infographics). As you browse build and organize your collection and it shows running totals of several statistics. And there’s minimal social interaction, almost like a library where people tend to be quiet and leave each other alone. A relaxing experience. I even have a board called zen relaxation that I can go to for quiet inspiration.

Pinterest no doubt developed one of the most fascinating products of the last decade, almost as powerful as Google, facebook, and Twitter. It’s addictive, stimulating and makes you smile. Hopefully that won’t change but it could.

The best part of the product is its design. Pinterest pioneered a new type of web page, now referred by everyone as a “Pinterest style”. It’s hard to remember now, but 3 years ago it was revolutionary. That single innovation was more influential than almost anything prior on the web.

Pinterest will do this with a lot of style – use a native ad approach with the Promoted Pin, but it could change them if they’re not careful. They are playing with the big boys now. Giants corporations will have a more formal dedicated part of their ad budget and marketing team focused on Pinterest, like they do now with Google ads and Facebook. Giant corporations will want to “help” Pinterest figure out how to change. Giant corporations will want to acquire Pinterest.  Let’s hope they keep their independence as long as possible.

Billions of dollars will be diverted from other ad channels to Pinterest. It could easily tarnish the brand. The fact that they have waited this long to monetize in this way and have built such great brand equity is quite encouraging.

It will also be a great opportunity for advertisers of all sizes, even the little guys. Buying real estate on Pinterest? Awesome!

No matter what happens, I’ll always be a big Pinterest supporter (is there a name for that? Pinterevist?) I hope they don’t hire a thousand lawyers or get acquired, but I trust them to handle this change with the same style they apply to everything.

@tomnora

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Cloning Startups: Blackmail, Duplication, 11 Pinterest clones, Overnight Cloning.

Angel Investor, Business Development, early stage, founder, Launch, Revenue Growth, Scalability, startup, startup CEO, Tom Nora, venture

Cloning Startups: Blackmail, Duplication, 11 Pinterest clones, Overnight Cloning.

And we’re not in a bubble?

Original startups are so Unoriginal that of course they’re getting ripped off…

http://j.mp/KRdQMK

d e s i g n

Business Development, early stage, founder, photography, startup, startup CEO, Uncategorized

The other day I met with a startup in Santa Monica, and noticed a giant etch of the word d e s i g n on the ceo’s glass office wall. Their company isn’t about design per say, but it was refreshing to see the discipline given such prominence. The word design is being kicked around in the startup world a lot more these days, and I think this is a good thing.

Design is the exercise of creating or adding elements of appearance to something. It is defined as “The shape or appearance given to an object, especially one that is intended to make it more attractive”. In the startup world it can make the difference between success or failure if combined properly with great business strategies. There are many examples of great design alone in a failing startup, but great design plus great engineering and business strategies often win. Also, many startups with bad/weak design but great strategies and engineering have been winners. But that seems to be changing.

To say that someone is a visual person is a little silly – everyone is visual. Colors and Shapes and beautiful Movement attract any human, often on a subconscious level. A simple attractive Design for a website or product will change its fate from yet another to the best in a category.

Beautiful design exudes success and confidence, care about details. And most importantly – originality. great design comes from within a person or organization, not copied from outside and implemented. It’s more difficult, but imperative for long term success. Simple beautiful design is proliferating on the web – lots of white space, a small number of large font words, big open boxes for interactivity, cool icons. All of these things enhance the user experience and make them want more.

A recent great experience for me was trying out Codecademy. It has quite thoughtful design elements, many of them not actually visible, but so important to its almost seamless usability.

Style, similar but different than design, is more the process of following great designs, using existing aesthetics. Sometimes this works fine, but it’s not the same as amazing original design. Just look at the continuous march of Apple over the past 34 years. Great design plus engineering plus strategy. Accessibility, simplicity, completeness. They created the template for many other products’ style and design.

UX/IA is also an important part of all digital design now. First introduced in the late 1990s, it’s replaced and expanded on UI as the critical relationship people have when using products. Often it’s a pre-design process, trying to guess how people are going to use things, then use design to optimize the experience.

The new biography on Steve Jobs is a must read for any startup founder. It has the added benefit for readers of discussing in great detail Apple and NeXT design processes, justifications and investments. It also reveals that most of the design ideas were not Steve Jobs, but rather came from several design and marketing gurus he surrounded himself with.

Like I said, it’s great that Design is becoming central to the engineering-heavy world of tech startups, because ugly design sucks. @tomnora