|Pinterest is sending a signal to the multitude of brands and retailers already active on its platform that it's getting ready to open for business itself by unveiling accounts designated for marketers.
Pinterest's new-business accounts -- which are free of charge -- aren't brand pages in the tradition of what Facebook, Twitter and Google+ have previously rolled out, since they don't currently look any different from other pages. They also don't possess any enhanced functionality, apart from making the new feature of authenticating a website a streamlined part of the sign-up process and directing account owners to a Pinterest how-to for businesses. Another easy-to-grasp difference is that business pages allow brands and merchants to simply enter the name of their businesses when registering instead of having to work around the first name, last name sign-up format on user pages.
But while Pinterest won't look any different to users, the cues being sent about its intention of becoming a mature business in short order will be apparent to brands. Its readiness to work more closely with them comes as no surprise to those who have tracked the company's high-profile hires over the past year since consumer adoption started going through the roof. It's hired numerous Facebook alumni, including head of operations Don Faul and head of product management and partnerships Tim Kendall, who once directed Facebook's monetization strategy.
Well aware of the connection between Pinterest browsing and purchasing, retailers were among the early-adopter brands on the platform, as well as media brands like Real Simple that started seeing immense referral traffic from it last winter. However, while brands have continued to settle the platform, some may have wondered on what terms their presence was really palatable. Until today, Pinterest's terms of service read that usage of the platform was licensed on the condition of "your personal, non-commercial use."
"There's always been this lingering question in businesses' mind of whether Pinterest is OK with [them]," said Apu Gupta, CEO of Curalate, an analytics platform that mines Pinterest for actionable data for brands.
Pinterest's goal is to get the thousands of businesses already on the platform to migrate their accounts over to the business type, according to Product Manager Cat Lee, another Facebook alumna. Pinterest also has an incentive for them to make the switch.
"We hope to add more tools and features that are geared toward this audience," she said.
The company also today announced two new widgets to enable account owners -- businesses and individuals alike -- to embed pins and boards on third-party sites. In practice, Ms. Lee thinks they'll mostly be used by businesses to help build up their following. "It helps attract more followers to your board and also to your profile," she said.
While business accounts are now largely symbolic in terms of what they portend for brands, it's possible to imagine them as a precursor for a much more robust back-end where brands could pay to promote a pin, according to Mr. Gupta. Or perhaps, he said, they could facilitate another feature that's high on both brands' and users' wish lists: the ability to rearrange pins and boards.
"It does point in the direction of Pinterest becoming incredibly business-friendly," he said.