Up to this point, Pinterest (still in private beta) has experimented with an affiliates program where merchants give the company a share of the profits when users click through the images and buy something they found on the site.
Facebook, in contrast, uses personal data mined from user profiles and online behavior to sell to advertisers. An article in the New York Times outlines just how personal this can get, with creditors basing decisions on your credit limit on a statistical analysis of similar users rather than your credit history; or Immigration Services browsing through photo albums to weed out sham marriages.
The interesting thing about Pinterest is that it doesn’t require a lot of person information to use – at least on the surface. There are no status updates, personal photo albums, or personal messages for the system to read into while you browse, so it’s slightly less invasive than some of the other social networks, like Google+. But when you log in to Pinterest through your Facebook or Twitter account, those sites pass along your profile details to Pinterest.
Twitter and Facebook have each tapped into different revenue streams, with mixed results. Twitter, like Pinterest, asks for a minimal number of personal details. Instead, the micro-blogging site uses “promoted tweets” to bring in revenue, which according to Gawker, may or may not be working for them. And Bloomberg reported that Facebook’s experiments with e-commerce haven’t taken off yet.
Fortune pointed out that Google and Amazon are great places to go when you’re ready to buy, but neither solve the problem of helping comparison shoppers “save” an idea for later, which is something that Pinterest does exceptionally well. Combine that feature with profile details collected from Facebook; and Pinterest could have a lot more revenue streams to work with than just referral traffic.
During his tenure at Facebook, Kendall created the “sponsored stories” that show which of your friends like the product being advertised. How he will apply his experiences at Facebook to Pinterest remains to be seen.
Image by artiomp via Shutterstock.