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Over the past two weeks, several of the largest online ad platforms have taken swift steps to address problems with advertisers attempting to profit by stoking fears during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Google Ads, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, TikTok, and YouTube have all responded in unique ways to stop the flow of misinformation, prevent profiteering, and provide new resources to protect public health.

Google Ads Blocks Advertisers Capitalizing on Crisis

This week, Google Ads updated its Inappropriate Content policy to specifically disallow content which:

“…potentially capitalizes on or lacks reasonable sensitivity towards a natural disaster, conflict, death, public health emergency, or other tragic event.”

The new regulation specifically cites price gouging, selling essential supplies that are in high demand but scarcely available, or ads that use sensitive keywords to manipulate their click-through rate.

For more details about which strategies to avoid and what keywords to be careful about using during this time, check out the full help page Google Ads has created for advertisers.

Google and Bing Block COVID-related Ads

Initially, Google had introduced a policy which entirely disallowed advertising products or services related to coronavirus across the entire platform. However, recent reports suggest they have internally revised this policy to make an exception for trusted organizations like hospitals, medical providers, or other major organizations attempting to provide reliable information to the public.

The search engine is also blocking the sale of face masks on its ad platform, following similar policies from Facebook.

Bing has taken similar steps by blocking all ads related to COVID-19, except those coming from trusted sources.

As a Microsoft spokesperson explained:

“Microsoft Advertising has taken precautionary measures to block ads for delivery related directly to COVID-19 under the Microsoft Advertising Sensitive advertising policy. This precaution also applies to some COVID-19 related medical supplies. We will only allow Public Service Announcements from trusted sources, such as official Govt. agencies, to promote COVID-19 content.”

Facebook and Instagram Block COVID-19 Ads, Create New Resources

Since March, both Facebook Ads and Instagram have been blocking the sale of face masks on their platforms. The policy has since been expanded to include hand sanitizer, surface disinfecting wipes, and COVID-19 testing for children.

At the same time, Facebook has created several new resources for both businesses and the general public, many of which can be found in the new “Marketing for Uncertain Times” deck which contains industry playbooks and general advice for staying informed.

Twitter Gives Advertisers Leeway

After originally banning any and all ads which mentioned “coronavirus” or “COVID-19”, Twitter has revised its ad policies to allow some advertisers to mention the virus.

As the company explains:

“In response to the shifting advertising landscape, and in order to support helpful causes during this time, we’re now allowing managed clients and partners to advertise content containing implicit or explicit reference to COVID-19 in certain use cases, with restrictions.”

The specific cases Twitter will be allowing are:

  • Adjustments to business practices and/or models in response to COVID-19
  • Support for customers and employees related to COVID-19

Despite this, Twitter says it will continue to block ads which include:

  • Distasteful references to the virus
  • Content that may be sensational or likely to incite a panic
  • Inflated prices or products related to the virus
  • Ads for face masks, alcohol-based hand sanitizers, supposed vaccines, or treatments.

TikTok and Pinterest Partner With WHO and Red Cross

TikTok and Pinterest have taken similar steps as others by blocking ads which “reference coronavirus, including when promoting products or services, to create a sense of fear, or to cause widespread offense”, as a TikTok spokesperson said.

In addition, these platforms have also been working with major health organizations around the globe to help spread relevant information and prevent misinformation.

Pinterest has been redirecting any searches on the platform to official content provided by the WHO to prevent the chance of delivering custom results which could be difficult to monitor for disinformation.

TikTok has taken similar steps by donating in-feed ad space to notable organizations including the WHO and Red Cross to ensure users have access to helpful information.

YouTube Blocks COVID-19 Ads Except From Trusted Sources

YouTube’s ad policies have largely been in-step with Google’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Initially, the platform would not allow any form of monetization on content relating to the coronavirus, citing “sensitive topic guidelines.”

Since then, the company has taken some steps to loosen that policy by allowing news organizations and reputable creators to produce videos about the issue in a sustainable way.

In a letter to the community, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki explained:

“In the days ahead, we will enable ads for content discussing the coronavirus on a limited number of channels, including creators who accurately self-certify and a range of news partners. We’re preparing our policies and enforcement processes to expand monetization to more creators and news organizations in the coming weeks.”

Despite this allowance, the company stresses it will continue to remove content that violates its policies or spreads misinformation.

Pinterest is launching a new tool called Pinterest Trends which will help you see what the hottest search terms have been over the past 12 months, along with info showing when the search terms peaked.

As the company announced, the new feature is in beta, but began rolling out earlier this week.

How Trends Can Help Your Marketing

Marketers and brands have been relying on Google Trends for years to track what the most popular search terms over time, especially surrounding seasonal events. Although Pinterest’s version of this feature doesn’t seek to reinvent the wheel, it does provide another set of compelling data which could be particularly useful for businesses in the fields Pinterest tends to cater to – such as cooking, decorating, fashion, and self-care.

As Pinterest continues to grow into one of the most dominant social platforms available, insights like this will be useful for brands looking to plan their campaigns ahead of time.

The company said as much when describing their goals with the tool:

“Pinterest Trends will help brands get deeper insights into planning behaviors on the platform, and allow  them to allocate budgets to campaigns during various planning stages. It will also validate assumptions about emerging trends, refine search queries with the aid of auto-complete suggestions, and help advertisers find a list of keywords to include or avoid while planning media campaigns.”

For example, the company says that Tastemade and Albertsons were given early access to the tool and have both used the data to create successful boards and campaigns on the site.

Pinterest is changing things up in a major way for brands, with an all-new design for business profiles and an entirely new ad format.

New Business Profile Design

Pinterest’s new design for business profiles puts the focus directly on dynamic content and a central view of product pins. 

Specifically, brand profiles will now include:

A dedicated Shop tab for showing users your products directly within your profile

The ability to customize profile covers with either videos or images

A streamlines navigation system making it easier to access messaging features

‘Shop the Look’ Ads

Since the launch of ‘Shop the Look’ pins, retailers have been flocking to the organic posts to showcase a wide array of their products in a single image. 

Now, Pinterest is allowing these brands to turn these organic pins into shoppable ads which can promote up to 25 products at a time. 

When these ads first appear, users will see a showcase previewing up to four items, which can be expanded to show the rest. 

‘Shop the Look’ ads are expected to roll out to US advertisers in the next few months.

Pinterest is making it easier for brands and consumers to connect with a number of new tools aimed at getting more products in front of interested viewers.

“Shop a Brand”

The company announced a slew of new updates designed to improve personalized results for users and make browsing products and brands better than ever.

“These updates help retailers get in front of customers who are looking for related products, and Pinners to see items that match their unique style and taste,” the company said in its announcement. 

Personalized Recommendations

Here’s the quick breakdown of all the new features:

  • Shop a brand: “A new dedicated section from retailers is starting to roll out beneath Product Pins. You’ll soon be able to dive into a brand’s catalog by clicking ‘more from [brand]’.”
  • Personalized shopping recommendations: “Alongside style, home, beauty and DIY boards, you’ll see in-stock ideas related to what you’ve been saving, to match your style. Just click ‘more ideas’ then the shopping tag to start shopping ideas picked for you. Tap + to quickly add the Pin to your board, or click the Pin to go straight to checkout on the retailer’s site. “
  • Catalogs: “Brands can now upload their full catalog to Pinterest and easily turn their products into dynamic Product Pins, which means more shoppable Pins across Pinterest. A new dashboard allows businesses to organize their feed so their products can be discovered and purchased by Pinners.”
  • Shopping Ads: “We’re making Shopping Ads available to all businesses through our self-serve tool Ads Manager. Once products are on Pinterest, brands can easily promote items from their existing product feed with Shopping Ads.”
  • Shopping search: “With more in-stock Product Pins, there are more products to search. Just search for a product like ‘midi skirt’, ‘men’s watches’ or ‘outdoor furniture’ and shopping results appear on the top of home feed. To start shopping, click ‘see more’.”

Pinterest Ads

For the first time since its release in 2016, Pinterest is making major changes to its self-serve Ads Manager, including dynamic pricing and stock information.

All the changes coming to Ads Manager

Perhaps this biggest change is a new step-by-step campaign set-up tool that will walk advertisers through picking a business goal, customizing their audience, and selecting or creating Pins to promote.

Pinterest is also introducing ad placement options to select whether you want your ads to appear in feeds or search results at the ad group level.

Advertisers will also be given more control over when their ads are scheduled to run, as well as a “pause campaign” tool for reviewing Promoted Pins before they start running.

To help you better target your ads with a detailed audience, Pinterest is integrating the Audience Insights tool directly into the ad manager. This will keep you from having to switch back and forth between windows to create data-driven audiences for your ads.

At the same time, Pinterest is making some changes to its reporting dashboard to let advertisers make changes to multiple rows or campaigns at the same time.

Updates to Product Pins

As part of the revamp, Pinterest is greatly expanding the options available for Product Pins, including the addition of dynamic pricing and up-to-date stock information.

The company is also increasing the number of Product Pins that will include the shopping bag icon to directly link to a checkout page, making it easier to purchase items with just a few clicks.

The new Product Pins are replacing the Buyable Pin format and are already rolling out for both mobile and app versions of Pinterest.

New fashion and home discovery categories

Lastly, Pinterest is creating two new shopping recommendation categories for home décor and fashion retailers within the Style and Home sections. This will give these retailers more opportunities to reach new audiences and help ensure their ads are shown to the right audiences.

With the holiday season coming up, now is a good time to make yourself familiar with all the new advertising options on Pinterest. The social shopping platform is one of the biggest tools used by online shoppers to not only plan their holiday gift purchases but actively purchase new products as they browse.

Pinterest is expanding its Shop the Look Pins to all business accounts.

 

Shop the Look Pins aren’t exactly a new type of Pin but instead is a tool that allows businesses to tag products in photos to provide a seamless shopping experience.

The tool was previously exclusive to big brands who purchased advertising through third-party services like Pinterest Marketing Partners Olapic and Curalate. Now, however, all brands can add Shop the Look Pins through a self-serve tool.

Shop the Look Pins appear as simple white dots which can be moved to ensure they are always helping add information without blocking the product itself. When a user clicks one of the dots, it will expand to provide extra information such as pricing, availability, and a link to immediately purchase the product.

While the company didn’t release specific data about the effectiveness of Shop the Look Pins so far, it believes the new tool will help drive engagement and encourage conversions for businesses.

To help reinforce that point, the company said that of its 250 million monthly users, approximately two-thirds have engaged with new products from businesses. More than 90% say they use Pinterest to plan their future purchases, making them a prime audience for brands.

The company also noted that Pins have a significantly longer lifespan than most social media content which loses inertia after several days, if not hours. Pinterest claims that Pins can drive significant engagement for up to 120 days.

One could argue social media has always been a popularity contest based on friend-counts and likes, but Pinterest is making it even more explicit thanks to some new changes to business profiles.

The most notable change is the addition of a monthly viewer statistic that can be seen by everyone, not just your account administrators. The feature will show the total number of people who saw your business’s pins over the past 30 days.

The addition of a view count is likely to provide a more reliable estimate of just how prominent a page is. While followers can easily be bought or acquired with bots, views are a little trickier to misrepresent.

However, many might say this gives an unfair advantage to businesses who advertise through promoted pins.

In addition to the view count, Pinterest is also introducing the ability for business profiles to include dynamic cover images that highlight specific content relevant to users. That can include individual pins or entire boards.

Pinterest says the changes will be rolling out over the next couple months, so keep your eyes out for more news about how monthly viewer statistics may affect your Pins.

Pinterest is expanding their platform – directly into Facebook’s. Hoping to create some synergy that will bring in new users, Pinterest is launching new features directly available from Facebook’s Messenger.

The new features, built around a chatbot for Messenger, make it possible to use Pinterest without ever having to actually open Pinterest.

According to Pinterest, the move is actually just capitalizing on the social platform’s already existing presence on the site. Each week, nearly 1 million pins have been shared from Pinterest across Messenger before the launch of the cross-platform features.

Pinterest’s Facebook Chatbot

Pinterest’s new chatbot will allow users to browse Pinterest’s site and content with guided advice and recommendations. When you start a conversation with the chatbot, it will ask you to choose from a list of categories – such as “trending,” “food,” and “home.” Based on your choice, the bot will then show you a carousel of pins from that category.

You can also directly search Pinterest with text queries, however, you can not use the platform’s visual search technology by sending in pictures for similar pins.

While users might find this service to be a useful way to quickly find the pins they are most interested in, advertisers might be disgruntled to learn that the Chatbot will not include Promoted Pins.

Native Pins for Messenger

In the past, when you clicked on a pin that was shared on Messenger it would automatically open in Pinterest’s site or app. Now, pins will open within Messenger itself, thanks to the Chat Extensions feature.

Facebook’s Chat Extensions feature is designed to allow users to interact with content from other brand’s sites or apps without leaving messenger, therefore also making it easier to share that content again within Messenger.

Pinterest is using this to deliver Pins directly to users on Messenger, as well as including a gallery of Related Pins and a search bar to find more pins.

With these, users will be able to find and share pins within Messenger without ever having to leave the conversation they are having with their friends.

Interestingly, Facebook is also allowing Pinterest to generate revenue with this chat extensions. If a person’s Facebook account is connected to their Pinterest account, Pinterest will also include Promoted Pins within the Related Pins section and search results shown through the chat extension.

Pinterest just hit a major milestone and they are celebrating by teasing several new features coming soon.

According to a blog post last week, Pinterest officially surpassed 200 million monthly active users, representing more than 40% growth since last year. Notably, more than half of these users live outside the USA which shows how Pinterest is progressing as a global platform.

At the time of the milestone, Pinterest says that over 100 billion pins had been created. It also notes that 85% of all searches on the platform come from mobile devices.

Of course, the company isn’t using the milestone as an opportunity to relax or slow down. The announcement hints at several features planned for the near future.

“You’ve told us what you want to see next, so we’re building them—it’s that simple,” Pinterest says.

For example, pinch-to-zoom functionality has been widely requested and is slated to be released soon. But, that’s just the beginning. Pinterest is also starting to test “boards-within-boards”, allowing users to create subcategories for their Pinterest boards.

Over the next few weeks, Pinterest will be sending invitations to select users to begin testing the feature – as well testing other new ideas.

The platform is keeping mum about any other projects or features they have coming down the pipeline, but the milestone announcement says you can expect to hear more in the near future.

Pinterest has seemingly been testing autoplay video ads forever, but most advertisers haven’t been able to get in on the fun. The video ads were limited to just a small number of big advertising firms and massive brands, while local businesses or small brands made do with picture-based ad formats.

That all changed this morning when Pinterest announced its Promoted Video ads are now officially available to everyone. Anyone can sign up and start running their own autoplay video ads on both search results and within users’ feeds.

Unlike other platforms like Facebook or Twitter, Pinterest is avoiding providing analytics for the ads through their own measurement systems. Instead, they are aiming to avoid potential conflicts of interest by partnering with third-party metrics companies Moat and Nielson.

“One of the unique differentiations for video on Pinterest was that it’s not only about inspiration, but it also helps people do things,” Mike Bidgoli, product lead at Pinterest, told AdWeek. “Obviously the format moved to autoplay, which made it easier for advertisers to be able to buy and measure the same way that they are with everything else. The overarching point is that we wanted video to have third-party measurement from the get-go.”

The company also says that carrying your existing video campaigns over to Pinterest is simple because they follow “the same creative standards as the rest of the industry.”

You can get started sharing your own video ads on Pinterest through their self-serve service, Pinterest Ads Manager.