Why Understanding Pinterest’s Baking Effect is Key to Measuring Your ROI

by Andrew Krebs-Smith | October 16

Pinterest Aging EffectYour goal, as CMO or marketer, is to put your budget where you get a good ROI. But that can be hard to manage, especially when ads perform differently across different platforms. For example, on Pinterest, you need to track delayed conversions – what Pinterest calls “the baking effect”– to make proper decisions.

The baking effect is unique to Pinterest. Ads on Pinterest can linger long after you’ve stopped spending. This happens when people “pin” your ad, thereby turning it into regular content that won’t go away when you stop spending on ads.

Now, you may be asking yourself, is it worth it to learn to maximize your advertising on Pinterest? Or more bluntly: Who needs the headache of learning another new platform? Isn’t Facebook better anyway?

Actually, it’s not. You make a mistake if you think that Facebook is better, just because the initial results are better. The big picture may tell a different story. For example, on Facebook, when you stop spending on ads, everything stops. No more ads are displayed, and no more leads come in. But if you stop spending on Pinterest, you may continue to see strong results for days, weeks or months, because of people having pinned your ads, which converts them to regular content.

Another reason to learn how to advertise successfully on Pinterest: Big platforms don’t come along every year. When they do come along, they tend to reward early adopters who keep learning and trying new things. This what happened with Google. Being the first in your industry to be there makes it hard for the competition to get a foothold. If you’d been at Google for a while, the platform gave your ads preference in promotion. But if you waited too long with Google, you are now out of luck. This phenomenon is happening again with Pinterest. If you wait too long to participate, you could miss out on the competitive advantages of being an early adopter.

It would be a big mistake to decide out-of-hand that Pinterest won’t work, when it could be working. But it’s not hard to see why some people may feel reluctant to engage. Tracking ad performance on Pinterest requires a different approach and a new set of tools than Facebook – or most digital platforms, for that matter.

But if you take a look, you’ll see it’s not really that complicated. Let’s say a user pins your ad on November 1, which happens to be the same day your campaign ends. That user can still click on your ad later, because they have saved it. This is comparable to tearing a page out of a magazine and pinning it to a corkboard. The magazine gets recycled and goes away, but that tear-out will stay right where you pinned it, “baking” on the wall, until you are ready to take action.

Due to the baking effect, measuring how your ads are doing on Pinterest takes some finesse. Knowing how many people clicked on your ad on September 1, for example, will not tell you how many people clicked on it on November 8 or 15 or all the days between. Pinterest’s native analytics don’t allow you to see the results over time.

So how do you measure results on Pinterest? Although you can always observe the effects and try to remember them, it’s not a good way to manage multiple campaigns. Instead, we’ve created our own analytic software that uses Pinterest’s data and tracks lead conversions over time. We export Pinterest data on a constant basis to see week-to-week performance, which guides spending decisions.

Once you understand the value of advertising on Pinterest, and set up the infrastructure and metrics to help you measure the results in a consistent way, this approach can be very powerful for you. The long-term payoff is higher ROI. But be forewarned: If you leave the channel too early because you’ve read the information wrong, you may miss a strategic opportunity to gain a competitive advantage.

The upshot? If you are a small company trying to figure out Pinterest, just know that this platform is important, and track your results over time. And if you are a serious player in lead acquisition, and want to be spending six figures a month successfully in a new channel with a lot of volume, call the experts. We do this all day, every day.

Andrew Krebs-Smith
About the author

Andrew Krebs-Smith

Andrew sings our praises to anyone that will listen. Before founding Social Fulcrum, he developed and managed social media strategy for accounts including Pfizer, Ocean City MD, The National Aquarium, and Strayer University. Andrew loves food, travel, music, exercise, and tea. Connect with Andrew on Twitter and LinkedIn.