Need more proof Pinterest is preparing for a big monetization push? The social platform has hired Jonathan Shottan, a former Facebook ad product exec who led Facebook Exchange and due diligence on ad tech M&A.
Shottan, who has also signed on as an adviser to TellApart, joins Pinterest as product manager for advertising. His first day was Monday.
According to a Pinterest representative, the company has no specific intention to roll out a private exchange bidding platform a la Facebook Exchange, and Shottan's role will be focused on assessing the impact of campaigns that run on the platform.
"He will be focusing broadly to start on measurement and reporting," the spokesperson said. "We have no plans to build an ad exchange."
That could mean putting in place partnerships with offline data matching companies such as Datalogix, to attribute offline conversions back to media impressions on Pinterest. It could also mean doing similar measurement through direct relationships with retailers' point of sale systems, loyalty programs and branded credit cards.
From April 2013 to April 2014, Shottan ran all targeting and measurement for Facebook's ad products. He succeeded Antonio Garcia Martinez, who led development of the Facebook Exchange and who now works in a product role at Nanigans.
While at Facebook, Shottan evaluated acquisition targets in the ad tech arena and supervised a quarter of the ads team, including about 90 engineers. His LinkedIn profile claims credit for launching retargeting on Web and mobile, for improvements in data quality and for the resulting rapid revenue growth from data-driven ad buys. Prior to that Shottan spent five years at digital ad platform Turn, where he oversaw development of its data-management platform, among other tasks.
Despite Pinterest's claim it will not launch its own exchange, the hire suggests the company's early ad products, including the CPM-based Promoted Pins, are just a prelude to larger plans for a platform-driven approach to advertising. It's too early to say what the components of that system could be, but the road map for other social platforms (i.e., Facebook and Twitter) has included retargeting of website visitors and existing customers (CRM), third-party segments and lookalike targeting through algorithmic audience extension. A "preferred partner" ecosystem also is often a hallmark of the advertising evolution for large consumer platforms.
Pinterest's ad ambitions are very new. It announced plans for Promoted Pins in September and earlier this month started a paid test of the ads in its search and category feeds with a group of US advertisers. ComScore estimates Pinterest's multi-platform audience 17.5% over the last year, from 46.98 million users in April 2013 to 55 million users in April 2014. The service's female/male split is around 80/20 by some measures, creating a much greater reach into the digital population among women than it does among men.
Also this week, Shottan signed on as an advisor to TellApart. CEO Josh McFarland described Shottan this way in a blog post: "hugely knowledgeable about our industry, long on substance if often short on words, razor sharp technically and incredibly strategically minded."
He is only TellApart's second advisor, following former DoubleClick CEO David Rosenblatt.
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