CMOverheard: Pinterest Promoted Pins, Huffington Post Controversy, Mary Meeker's Annual Internet Report and More Live

We're paying attention, so you don't have to. Here are a few of the most interesting things happening in the marketing world this week, courtesy of some of the top experts, thought leaders and CMOs in the industry.

By Stephen M Zorio

When Pinterest announced the decision to expand its Promoted Pins experiment to include paid advertising, there was some question as to how its audience might react. Well, the initial results are in and people on Pinterest are decidedly ... indifferent.

According to TechCrunch, a small number of brands have tried the paid Promoted Pins, including Kraft, lululemon athletica, Nestle, Old Navy, Target, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts and Ziploc. 

A new survey by eMarketer found that just over 70% of the site's (overwhelmingly female) audience either don't mind the ads or are neutral toward them. This comes on the heels of some mixed news where it concerns the efficacy of sponsored content living in places traditionally reserved for editorial content.

Digiday cited a study that found that, "click-through rates of clearly identified native ads [were] between one-tenth and one-third of the surrounding editorial content." That same study found that visitors were twice as likely to leave sponsored content after clicking on it and that engagement with sponsored content suffers dramatically in comparison with editorial content.

However, the New York Times tells a different story. Meredith Levien, executive vice president of advertising for The Times, says Times readers spend the same amount of time on paid posts as they do news stories. That stands in obvious contrast to the study cited above, but does reinforce a valuable lesson: Brands that are willing to invest in quality content will almost invariably see better results.

Commenting Controversy

The Huffington Post, a leader in the realm of moderator driven commenter interaction, announced in a recent post by its CTO that its in-house commenting system will be replaced wholesale by Facebook commenting. The announcement was met with an immediate backlash from frustrated commenters.

by stephen.zorio

The decision comes as a bit of a surprise given that the company is less than a year removed from an overhaul to the system designed to address user concerns. In addition, the initial decision to integrate Facebook authentication into the Huffington Post commenting world was panned by readers. It remains to be seen whether the decision to embrace Facebook comments will have long-term consequences, but the initial returns cannot be encouraging.

The Meeker Report

The release of Mary Meeker's annual (and invaluable) internet trends report has become an event unto itself. She delivered her latest at the Code Conference last week, and you can get see her deck in its entirety here, but we've boiled it down to some highlights:

by stephen.zorio

  • Smartphone penetration is not nearly as massive as you might think: While the devices might seem ubiquitous, the fact is nearly 65% of cell phone users are on something other than a smartphone. We have only seen the tip of the iceberg yet when it comes to smartphone usage.
  • Mobile usage also has a ton of untapped potential: Year-over-year usage has increased across the board and mobile traffic now accounts for 25% of all traffic, up from 14% just a year ago. If you don't have a robust mobile strategy, you need to get one -- right now.
  • Businesses are still spending far too much money on print ads: The gap between time spent consuming print ads and the total spend is staggering, whereas mobile represents a major opportunity. The idea that you need to be where your customers are is hardly new, but it's one some businesses clearly struggle to comprehend.

The Rise of ... Platishers?

As more and more brands contend with how to interact with consumers in what has been dubbed 'the participation age,' some are finding the answer lies in outsourcing content to their consumers and providing a platform to publish. This has given rise (for good or ill) to the word 'platishers.' The word is defined as a hybrid between a platform and a publisher, akin to sites like Gawker or BuzzFeed.

Sephora, Conde Nast and Entertainment Weekly have each dipped their toes into this still nascent pool of "amateur" content, but overall adoption is still very low. Even the man who coined the term readily admits it is fraught with peril, including, how "platishers will police brand-damaging content on their platform" not to mention plagiarism or copyright violation. But this is a trend that will only continue to grow, especially as brands look to find new avenues to engage their current customers.


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