Marketing & Advertising

Why Pinterest’s CMO Doesn’t Care If You Close Her App

“Our goal is never to keep people online,” said Andréa Mallard, CMO of Pinterest, a platform for finding and sharing visual content. “In fact, it's just the opposite.”

Mallard and I spoke at CES 2020 in the C Space Studio, where I host conversations with marketing, media, and brand leaders. And Mallard’s interview stood out.

“We don't panic about things like time on app,” she said. “That’s not what we want. What we really want is people to find hopefully what they're looking for, to be inspired, and go off and do it.”

That’s not a statement you might expect from the chief marketing officer of a major social media brand — especially at an internet-saturated show like CES. But Mallard’s time-on-app position stems from a deeper truth, embraced by Pinterest but broadly applicable to the consumer marketplace. Mallard believes that marketers now operate in a fundamentally new era. And if she’s right, then brands of all kinds had better pay attention.


We Interrupt This Program

To understand this new era, it’s helpful to understand the one that Mallard believes we’ve left behind. She knows this world well. In fact, it’s the one she was prepared for.

“I am a trained marketer, and we've been taught for years and years that you're supposed to interrupt people and try to get them off of what they were otherwise there to do, distract them and say, ‘Look over here at my ad instead,’” Mallard said. “Watching an ad was what we all tolerated in order to be able to see the TV show we wanted to watch.”

But Mallard believes that manipulative, distracting marketing is best left in the past.

“We've had a hundred years of advertising that operated that way, and people are sick of it,” she said.

And today’s consumers are empowered to tune out ads. Mallard noted that “up to a third of all people have ad blockers on their laptops or on their mobile phone right now.”

“The world is telling us, ‘We're tired of it,’” she continued. “We need something new.”


Act Now!

At Pinterest, Mallard said, the philosophy is to “stop interrupting and start inspiring.”

For example, a paint company might share home renovation tips.

“What's interesting is that most of the content on Pinterest is from brands,” Mallard said. “And the users say, ‘We love this content, we want more of it, we want it to be more actionable.’ So the best marketers know that that's what they have to do on Pinterest.”

In fact, Mallard defines Pinterest as “the world’s inspiration company.” From fashion upgrades to baking projects to party planning, Pinterest aims to help inspire people “to create a life that they love."

Brands win when Pinterest makes it easy for consumers to find and buy the products that inspire them.

We don't panic about things like time on app. That’s not what we want. What we really want is people to find hopefully what they're looking for, to be inspired, and go off and do it.

Andréa Mallard
CMO, Pinterest

Under a modern mindset, Mallard said, marketers “provide people with the tools and the information and the insights they need to take action, rather than manipulate or convince or distract.”

Viewed through the lens of inspiration and action, Pinterest’s indifference to the amount of time consumers spend on its app makes sense. If, as Mallard has written, “the age of interruption is over,” then Pinterest shouldn’t be overly interruptive to your actual life.

But if there’s one thing Pinterest may interrupt, it’s outdated assumptions about building a brand. The “inspiration company” might do more than move consumers to act. It could inspire marketers, too.

Watch the full interview with CMO Pinterest Andréa Mallard.

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