Inside Pinterest’s innovation lab and the future of video shopping

Earlier this month when Pinterest launched Pinterest TV—a brand new, dwell video function on the web site the place high creators have begun posting shoppable movies strolling their followers by means of magnificence routines and vacation cocktail recipes—the movies all shared a sure aesthetic and tone: breezy, educational, and upbeat. This was by design. “We ensure that the content material is inspirational, it’s optimistic,” says Pinterest govt David Temple. “It’s the variety of content material you come to Pinterest anticipating.” 

In different phrases, Pinterest TV just isn’t a free-for-all repository of movies like, say, YouTube or TikTok, neither of which Temple names when, by level of distinction, he refers to different video platforms the place “you’ll be able to go spouting off no matter conspiracy principle or political principle” or throw up a “image of youngsters you’ve. That’s nice. However Pinterest has a special mission and we wished to construct our product in another way.”

[Image: courtesy of Pinterest]

To make sure this uniformity, Pinterest TV was put in the palms of TwoTwenty, Pinterest’s in-house artistic workforce that oversees product innovation at the firm. (Temple oversees TwoTwenty in addition to Pinterest’s rising merchandise division.) Named after the tackle of Pinterest’s unique workplaces, the 15-person workforce brings collectively Pinterest staffers from throughout the firm to share their distinctive expertise and perspective—the lawyer, as an illustration, who is actually into gardening—and brainstorm concepts and new applied sciences. After which convey them to life. 

“We often describe it as a product incubator,” says Meredith Arthur, who leads TwoTwenty’s all-female manufacturing workforce. “I believe what makes it particular is that there are such a lot of totally different folks working collectively. It’s actually uncommon at a giant firm to have this small, incubator workforce working cross-functionally on this means.” 


Pinterest TV is the first product to emerge from TwoTwenty and is the firm’s try and compete with, sure, YouTube and—particularly—TikTok, which have been confirmed to drive purchases from Gen Z particularly. Pinterest additionally just lately launched a TikTok-like “Watch” tab, the place viewers can scroll by means of creator movies and like, remark, and save to their Pinterest boards.

The general push into video programming mimics a development all through social media, although Pinterest’s effort is coming a lot later than different corporations’ video initiatives and has been characterised by some observers as a catch-up train. Instagram, for instance, launched IGTV in 2018; Fb debuted Fb Watch a 12 months earlier than that. 

But when Pinterest is arriving a bit of late to video, it insists that it’s being “intentional” and going about it in a means that continues to be true to the platform and what its greater than 400 million month-to-month customers have come to count on from the Pinterest expertise. In different phrases, it’s not simply doing video for video’s sake. To this finish, there’s the shoppable element, in addition to a function that permits customers to work together with creators through chat. To enrich the extra deliberate shopping nature that Pinterest customers exhibit (versus the impulsive buys on different social-media platforms), episodes take their time in 30-minute codecs.

Pinterest TV can be not jamming promoting down customers’ throats. When the platform launched, it allowed for natural, model partnerships with creators, however there are not any pre-roll spots or any variety of paid promoting components—at the very least not but. As of now there are not any built-in monetization streams for creators, however Temple says that some creators have doubled their followings in a single episode. And the dwell shopping factor will presumably result in model partnership alternatives.  

As for manufacturing, TwoTwenty works intently with creators, strolling them by means of filming and giving them instruments to shoot, similar to ring lights, microphones, and cameras. The opposite day, TwoTwenty helped magnificence blogger Austen Tosone shoot one of her first make-up tutorials—a vacation look—collaborating together with her on the thought and then mapping out the video. “We plan it out, we do a tech examine, we ensure that her tools is working, that she’s obtained two digital camera angles,” says Arthur. 

“Extra importantly,” Tosone’s episode was preceded by one by fellow magnificence guru Manny Mua, in an try and create some crossover synergy and assist develop Tosone’s viewers. “He has an enormous following on this world, he went on at 3 p.m., Austen went on at 3:30. She was ecstatic about that. She was like, ‘I’m a fan. I can’t consider I get to observe proper after him!’ 

“So it’s simply an instance of the hand-holding and the course of of molding her into somebody who hopefully can proceed to begin to go extra on her personal. We need to be sure that’s being established.” 


As for the institution of TwoTwenty, the workforce developed out of an off-the-cuff convention that Pinterest had been holding for years, throughout which workers from varied divisions would get collectively and share concepts. For instance, that lawyer who grows crops? “He began growing a category on develop lights”—indoor mild bulbs that assist crops develop—Arthur says. The convention “actually embodied the expertise of Pinterest in actual life for workers to get folks into this mindset of creating, sharing, and studying.” 

That then morphed right into a three-day occasion final Might—Pinterest Dwell—the place exterior influencers, similar to reality-TV star and hair stylist Jonathan Van Ness and Pinterest creators offered lessons that had been streamed dwell. “We actually upped our programming recreation,” says Arthur. “We obtained to 25 episodes in three days. “We had folks from all totally different backgrounds, all degree of creators, and we noticed what resonated. We discovered a ton about how folks engaged and then constructed that into the expertise” for Pinterest TV.  

As for the future, Arthur and Temple playfully deflect the concept that Pinterest TV might evolve into its personal, impartial app, akin to the Dwelling Shopping Community, with TwoTwenty serving to to churn out and program content material. “We are able to think about that,” Arthur says, with out elaborating additional.

“There are such a lot of alternatives on this house,” Temple says. “It’s only a course of of studying as we go.”