Pinterest is starting to move toward a clear advertising model, as shown by last month's hiring of Facebook's global PMD head, John Yi, to run its marketing developer partnerships. The company has rolled out analytics and "Rich Pins" features geared to brands, and is believed to have a marketing API program in the works.
Rather than wait for what Pinterest develops on its own, electronics marketer Casio turned to Ahalogy, a company that has promoted itself as an on-ramp to the photo-sharing site for advertisers, to boost the profile of its Baby-G line of women's and girls' watches as a larger lifestyle brand, according to John Lauro, Casio's internet marketing manager.
Ahalogy was, until recently, called Pingage, which it chose for its relation to "pinning." The new name refers to the "aha" moment that President Bob Gilbreath says happens when real-time marketing is connected to social media.
"Although we're still concentrating on Pinterest, the name change frees us up to explore other formats as the company and the social-media space matures," Gilbreath said.
Ahalogy has worked primarily worked with digital agency Resource Interactive, and the 100 publisher partners in its Ahalogy Content Network include ZipList, a recipe division of Condé Nast, and fashion-blogging umbrella StyleCaster Media Group.
As Pingage was morphing into Ahalogy, the company signed on Casio. whose goal was similar in focus to what Ahalogy does for its other clients: Build brand awareness and engagement with young women by getting them to follow the brand on Pinterest.
Casio was impressed by the simple format that Ahalogy used to generate followers. For example, when someone viewing content in Ahalogy's network decides to repin an image, an interstitial pops up, telling the user that Casio or Baby-G was the originator of the pin. The hope is that users will decide to follow Casio and its brand's Pinterest Boards and, eventually, be inspired check out the marketer's other online presences.
"It's a good way to let someone know or remind them where this image they liked came from," Lauro said. "It's a gentle push in our brand's direction. The benefit is that a Pinterest link drives much higher clickthroughs than anything else we see in social media, even more than Instagram. It has gotten people to our site."
Ahalogy offers services in three areas. It connects marketers like Casio with sharable content via Ahalogy's publishing network partners and placing the sponsor message on shared images. Then it provides data about when, and by whom, the image was shared. Finally, it helps navigate legal issues around republishing a followers' pin.
Clients pay based on performance -- either click-throughs or cost-per-followers.
"Marketers hate paying monthly fees," Gilbreath said. "There are all those Buddy Medias out there right now, telling businesses that if they want to use their software, they have to pay a monthly fee. Our software is free to our clients. If they get something out of it, we get paid. If not, we don't. Software should be linked to results. If what you're doing is not tied to performance, what's you're incentive to improve your marketing software?"
Ahalogy does not service Instagram, Twitter or Facebook. The goal for the remainder of the year is to focus on Pinterest and hopefully to build a more formal relationship with the company.
But even if the connection with Pinterest remains informal, Gilbreath said he believes that service is poised for greater growth and he will continue to tie Ahalogy's fortunes to it for the rest of this year.
"Time will tell how Pinterest evolves its revenue model," Gilbreath said. "They're doing smart things, like Pinterest Analytics and 'Rich Pins.' We need to frame Pinterest around more of a content-and-search tool, as opposed to a social-media function. Lumping them in with Facebook and Twitter… is wrong in our view. It's not a conversation. The primary value here is 'discovery' and that will remain the core of what Ahalogy is."