Cool business ideas for startups and business development

Monetising Pinterest revisited.

Monetising Pinterest revisited.

I wrote the post below called” Monetising Pinterest ” in an old blog in 2014 as an exercise on how Pinterest can be monetized . In the three – four years since I wrote it, Pinterest has made some strides in monetising the App, but the challenge is sticking to the core concept when faced with the following challenges:

Mobile social media connectivity

Mobile Advertising

A plateau in the number of new users

How to introduce new features with minimal disruption

If you read the article below you will find that some of the ideas are outdated and some can be modified. I have posted this as an exercise of retrospection and how ideas evolve. It can also act as an inspiration for new ideas which I have listed below but not elaborated on

New ideas

  1. Using Pinterest as an equivalent visual equivalent to shazam take a photograph of an item and Pinterest  will use its database to provide the following results:
  • Identify the item (this could also be by barcode)
  • Provide a pin able image
  • Provide similar items
  • Provide a list of shops where the item can be purchased either online or using geo location to shop 
  1.  Using Pinterest app to connect to large screens via Bluetooth. this enables the user to display their boards to a group and turn their large screen in to picture frames the user can continuously scroll or randomly select pins to display or create a board that will only show hi res images. On an  LCD screen ( ) or if  the  technology  for cheap  film LCD matures then  you can replace with picture  frames that use low energy that  receive  images from  the Pinterest app (
  2. Pinterest might consider creating either branded or sponsored (or enabled for Pinterest) short throw pocket projector and encourage people share and project images especially as the App\ mobile phone will allow group interaction and display.
  3. Using a board or boards to look for people with similar interests. The Pinterest algorithm does this by sending you tips but imagine if I can take charge of my search if I have a board(s) and use the top ten re-pins or my selection of any pins as search criteria to look for similar groups in Pinterest or social media and rank the search result
  4. Enabling businesses to add the ability on  where to buy hyperlinks to images they own or to create discrete alerts to sales on each image 
  5.  For businesses: the Pinterest enabled app allows me to show different items available in the retail environment and make interactive environments where the retail customer can match items looking at related items in a physical location. This might also involve some augmented reality software solutions

Old Blog Post : Monetising Pinterest

I use Pinterest and I like the clean minimalist interface it’s a good case study on website usability (although it could be improved) but it’s quite good. I like the ease of use and its integration with social media. There have been a lot of articles about Pinterest i.e. fortune ( and Guardian ( the articles have mentioned how Pinterest needs to monetise without losing what makes it special and comments on the efforts made so far. I would like to offer some generic ideas as I usually do in my blog (it’s a mental exercise that I do when thinking about something else usually work). It’s worthwhile to note that the names of features and services I have proposed are arbitrary and unimaginative they are placeholders for lack of a better name.

I will deal with the obvious one’s advertising using links, tags, pop up adverts scrolling etc, this is the obvious method of monetising as there is $30- 40 billion worth of advertising for all media sloshing around the world every year getting the most out of advertising is the sweet spot for most websites. The question is if it can be done different or cooler. Most people usually don’t object to usual adverts panels, links etc and some interactive ads, the idea is to execute keeping with the minimalist theme of Pinterest.

Some problems on the horizon: There might be  a copyright problem with images on  Pinterest and it has tried to address this by using  the millennium copyright act but for the ones that slip though their net Pinterest  could create a  possible  feature called  “ OWN IT” , it enables the copyright  owner tag the image or  item as theirs with a hyperlink to their brands page on Pinterest (or website) to  acknowledge ownership  or to send a notice to the user that  to link to their website (or in extremis  cease and desist if it violates  their terms fair use) and once this is done it  will percolate through the repins of the image.  I suspect most brand owners will just want the acknowledgment and possibly a timeline feature for brand / product owners so that they can see were its mentioned (see analytics below).

Now for the monetising Ideas

The first thing to note is that these are not definitive ideas but are meant to spark other ideas in line with Pinterest principles and strategic plan:

Producers/brands owners using the “Pinterest Group Buy” for crowd sourcing product sales:

I don’t know the ethos of Pinterest, but brands/producers can pin limited edition, custom items or general items and if X number of people want an item once that is reached certain number of buyers the price can be fixed or fluctuate at a discount based on the number of people. When paid then the items can be shipped and Pinterest gets paid as they provide the platform for the deal (by deal I mean aggregating interested parties to purchase items). It’s a version of Pinterest meets crowdsourcing/ bid / Groupon ( without the coupons) / Kickstarter (

Pinterest advertising: 

User permitted advertising (for lack of a better name): This involves asking the user for permission in addition or an alternative to the usual suspects (panels links etc) what brand to they want to associate with their boards, images or videos. There are three options on the delivery of the adverts and three types of ads print, video, interactive.

Option one is auto this will position the ads around or on the board.

Option two enables the user to choose the positioning and types to be related to their boards.

Option three creates a related advert board based my favourite Pins and related adverts.

Another feature of the adverts is the “Pinadverts “feature: This enables the user to relate a Pin to an advert they like, or alternative create what I call an advert view of their board. The means there are three different view of a board:

  1. Normal view of the board
  2. A view of related adverts for that board
  3. A hybrid view of both.

Notes related to this idea: This would imply that there is related searchable advert database to pin from.  This assumes that the adverts are tagged appropriately to enable the monetisation. Most brand/product owners like keeping their brand adverts up to date so they provide the adverts. There is a large archive of adverts (print, video or interactive) for all brands/products and people have nostalgic value for certain adverts and would like to pin them and relate them to their pins so why not let them? (I wrote a business plan in detail on how to build a for profits web-based advertising archive I will upload on my blog prior to publishing the article). The advertising revenue and the brand/product exposure is a win. A further incentive might be to pay users a micro amount in Pinterest credits (Pinterest own currency) for pinning favourite adverts which can be redeemed on the brands websites. This article should have its own section on credits, on how it could work for Pinterest and the possibilities but that would be a new article.

Pinterest media

This where a newspaper or media company can incorporate and / or create a board related to their article (just like YouTube) but it would have to incorporate advertising link at the bottom or an advert panel at the side using the permission-based advertising. There is a dual pricing model i.e. the price to the media and the display or click through link price for the advertiser.

Pinterest local

This enables a local directory linked to the pins it enables two features:

  1. It enables users to create their own local directory if users want to source products or pin products locally, they can create a board called “my personal PIN local directory” but it’s a specialist board and restricted to local directory services. It has specific tools such as access to Google maps or free map software, it has access to an address book feature and allows geotagged images to be pinned from any mapping software or a direct upload.
  2. This feature enables brand/product owners to pin or repin images or videos as part of the Pinterest local initiative local business pay to use the pins as their own shop widow and directories. A business can pin items for sale locally on a board for a certain locality. A business can create shop fronts and windows on their boards. Users can repin items from the board on their local pin only other examples a restaurant pins its menus and picture of its food which can be enabled to link to their website for a Pin local discount. A feature of this service is the ability to integrate with Google maps or a free mapping service. Another feature is the ability for businesses to track all the repins and possibly in future send local deals to the users on their local boards. The user can get Pinterest credits if they invite other local users to a specific pin.

Pinterest Analytics

This is a visual and analytic tool that shows brand/product owners the different demographic, statistics and analysis of their brand usage. It’s has a dashboard that shows the growth of repins and aggregate comments. It identifies the influencers and commentators of their brands or products and the relationship with other with competing products they want to track.

The throw away ideas:

What I have written above deals with monetisation the following are throwaway ideas that occurred to me while writing they may have a monetisation aspect, but the focus is on features as an extension of Pinterest product offering:

App, Pinterest the world

This is an app that enables people to take geotagged photos. The photo can be pinned from the mobile device to their boards or saved in the “Pinterest cloud” (see Pinterest plus below). Another feature enables users to pin photos in the real world i.e. pin them on Pinterest local (see above) or pin them on the Google maps or free mapping software. It also creates context and is the basis for a future Pinterest augmented reality product. The question is do you create your own product or collaborate with an existing camera App.

Pinterest Plus:

It’s a paid service for users and has these features:

  • The user to place their pins in three dimensional spaces where they could be displayed for example a user can place their winter collection in a closet and pin their summer collection on the boards. The collector of quilts can drape them on furniture. The car collector can place them in a garage. The collector of various vases can display them in on shelves. The curator can curate their pictures in a virtual museum and keep collections in an archive. The user can use templates to create visual magazines or visual blogs which can be archived and revisited. Access may be granted by other users who may or not subscribe to Pinterest plus. It presupposes that there will be a future release of a Pinterest SDK (for developers initially for Pinterest plus).
  • Pinterest cloud this enables people to save pins and boards to the cloud and has additional memory. I thought of Pinning my life i.e. pin a replica of all the things I own (a virtual model of my stuff).
  • Pinterest blog this enables blogging features for people to write extensively about their favourite things
  • Pinterest discounts this enables plus users to get discounts when they purchase item they have pinned, or businesses have special offers for Pinterest plus users
  • Pinterest slides theses are tools that enable users to create a slide show of their boards add music text or other creative solutions such as the free slide show app (like a power point lite) for Pinterest plus users.

Pinterest search and connect groups

  • This enables users to use their boards like for a relationship search which I have described in detail on my blog ( Basically it works by looking at the top  ten  pins (or more) for a board (or selected pins )and  search for similar  boards  and displays  the  top (or limited) results on  a percentage correlation basis  it enables people with similar interests to find each other in it’s a visual context search ( the search may be  flipped to show  the  opposites).The obvious hurdle is the  metadata used for the name, description, group etc but it could add more context if people have a field for the specific names of their pin when they pin an item especially if they want to search.
  • There is a search feature might be useful if another feature called the “Pinterest group feature” (which I obviously haven’t defined but it could be a paid service like NING or not) this enables groups to be formed new other networks created within Pinterest. An example Hobbyists have a slightly different outlook and might want to form groups such as stamp collecting and coins. I haven’t defined the tools available to the groups feature but they may want to create a blog if they are Pinterest plus users. Also, hobbyists have particular needs such as swapping item or exchanging items I don’t know how this will work but it’s an idea.

Strategic thoughts

As you know although a lot of entrepreneurs would have started their copies of Pinterest especially in countries that speak other languages, so Pinterest should start sections or tools that cater to these countries (I have assumed that language features are enabled). Secondly find a way of promoting them in those countries. in the UK where I live we are early adopters  follow America but when monetising  all the social networks and  search engines and blogs  have found the need to  create a UK specific service ( I could explain the  tax ,  legal, cultural implications but that for another blog )  but it’s worth noting that sales from Google, Facebook and Amazon to the UK as a separate entity  exceeds £10 billion . And this is an English-speaking country. You may find out that you might have to do the Groupon acquisition route by the time you’re ready to expand because people have generically copied your services. This is without considering Europe, China and the rest of the world.

Other ideas for future consideration

1. My personal Pin board

The more I play with Pinterest (see my Boards here) the more I want my personal pin board: This board will allow me to pin all the items I want to look at without sharing but will give me the option of sharing particular boards or pins with people I invite through my social network (so it might need a plug in to face book or NING) or personal invitees.  It will be allow me to start cataloguing my life especially my library of books CDs and DVDs even if it’s only a record (see details PDC). It will also enable me to keep multiple wish lists which can be linked to online shops to check prices, discounts and availability! If this is added to a cloud-based service then I can go beyond this and the pin board will become the interface to my eBooks, audio books, CDs, digital magazine subscriptions and DVDs. As usual there are copyright issues. But to counter this situation the pin boards links to media will be disabled for the public view. Since I am asking I might as well pump for my documents to be arranged or grouped visually with the ability to add Meta data to them for an easy search (obviously all my pin boards will be searchable). I also want to blog about my pins as an added feature.

2. The enterprise pin board

The question is who is also developing pin boards for Enterprise use? What will it look like and how would it increase productivity and group work? Intranets, message boards, blogs and social networks already exist for the Enterprise, but how will an Enterprise pin board integrate with that architecture?  What features will you want and how will it work with the enterprise social networks? What will be the security features? Will it work across the desktop and apps? I can make a business case especially for design lead companies but what about the rest. I might write a detailed list of requirements /features and model this later in another blog post (see, or profile of my life blog entry)

The Business use case model

Below is the Rough business use case model it’s quite untidy I could have alternatively used packages (magnify to 150% to view) but this is a blog not a business analysis effort.

The Business Use Case Model is a model of the business goals and intended functions. It is used as an essential input to identify roles and deliverables in the organization.

  A business actor represents a role played in relation to the business by someone or something in the business environment.

            A Business Use Case (class) defines a set of business use-case instances in which each instance is a sequence of actions that a business performs that yields an observable result of value to a particular business actor.

Also note all the business use cases of the current business are not included only core businesses and some peripheral ones to enable understanding.

It’s worthwhile to note that this is not a system level use case model and that would need further detailed analysis, but a rough estimate is about at least 25 system use cases.

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