Pinterest Snaps Up Mobile Retargeting Firm And Deep-Linking Outfit URX

PinterestURXPinterest’s rumored acqui-hire of deep-linking startup URX is a go.

On Tuesday, Pinterest announced that it’s bringing the San Francisco-based URX team into the fold, but not its technology. URX, which started as a deep linking provider before becoming a mobile retargeting platform, will work with its customers to sunset its advertising product.

As of July, URX had 42 employees. Today, URX has around 30 employees, roughly half of who will join Pinterest across its product management, engineering and partnership teams. URX had raised $15 million since it was founded in 2013.

John Milinovich, URX’s co-founder and now former CEO, will come on board at Pinterest as a product manager. Milinovich is also an ex-Googler who helped launch Google Offers, a Groupon-like daily deals service that Google shut down in 2014.

Milinovich and his crew from URX will work on “content-related products across the organization,” a Pinterest spokesperson said, including search and discovery and Pinterest’s rich pins product, which “[helps] people take action on the pins they discover.”

While Pinterest didn’t elaborate further, it bears noting that one of URX’s focuses was on improving app discovery, a process that is notoriously broken and is a market that Pinterest has only dipped its toe into. In February 2015, Pinterest rolled out App Pins, which lets people pin and download apps on their phone without having to leave the Pinterest experience.

The acqui-hire could also be an attempt to take a page out of Twitter’s playbook. Twitter acquired digital ad platform TellApart in August and recently started testing dynamic product ads that allow DR advertisers to target users off-platform with personalized ads based on browsing behavior.

TellApart is mainly a desktop player. URX is all about mobile. But as Milinovich told AdExchanger in February, “information is information no matter where it is.”

Although Pinterest has been making advertising-related overtures – it opened up its ads API in June – some advertisers, although interested in the platform’s potential, are a little lukewarm about the reality.

It “feels like they haven’t come through with a super-compelling product,” said Scott Symonds, managing director of media and data at AKQA. “It had its moment, and now it’s almost too late to get excited. You want a darling period where everyone spends, but then you want to come out with a product that works soon after to keep up the momentum.”

Perhaps this is a belated effort in that direction, a way for Pinterest to enhance its buy button with deep-linking tech. Although there’s been a lot of hype, social shopping hasn’t really taken off.

That said, Pinterest as a source of rich user intent is nothing to sniff at.

Facebook is arguably top of the funnel, while other players like Amazon or Yelp are way down at the bottom of the funnel. But Pinterest “activates the consumer in the middle to power portion of the funnel – when they may be particularly receptive to purchase and looking for ideas or inspiration,” noted Andrew Lipsman, VP of marketing and insights at comScore, in a recent report.

Bolstering that certainly seems like a major rationale behind the deal.

“We’re focused on building useful and relevant experiences to help people discover ideas and bring those ideas to life,” Pinterest’s head of product Jack Chou noted in a statement. “We can now accelerate our efforts with the URX team, who are leaders in mobile content understanding, recommendations, monetization and discovery.”

 

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