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Pinterest’s Interest in Creators Comes Back From the Dead

Pinterest doesn’t immediately come to mind as a top attraction for content creators. But like other content platforms, it’s been fighting for the attention of influencers by adding new ways for them to make money. On Tuesday, the app announced features allowing creators to earn commissions from directing Pinterest users to buy specific products and to tag their posts as being sponsored, piggybacking on similar features from apps like Instagram. I also learned that Pinterest has been quietly testing a program that connects creators to advertisers to strike separate deals, similar to existing marketplaces at Snapchat, TikTok and Facebook.

It’s easy to see why many observers left Pinterest for dead when it comes to the creator economy. Other apps have many times more eyeballs than Pinterest, and some including Facebook are offering 2,000 times more moolah to creators through dedicated funds

What Pinterest has, though, is hundreds of millions of monthly users who are generally motivated to buy physical goods. The biggest question hanging over the company’s creator efforts is whether it will make enough changes to the app so that users will be able to follow and become addicted to specific influencers. Today it serves primarily as a portal for searching for broad categories of products, such as recipes, wedding decor or home renovation inspiration, said Keith Bendes, vice president of strategy and growth at influencer marketing agency Linqia. “Your intent is not to follow people,” he said.

Another advantage for Pinterest is that the content being uploaded to its app is permanent and can get views for years. For instance, Pinterest’s version of Stories, called Idea Pins, doesn’t disappear 24 hours after being posted, unlike Stories on Instagram and Snapchat. While the ephemerality of posts on those apps is what makes them more popular overall, it comes at a cost for the content creators who are forced to continuously churn out new videos. 

And Pinterest’s Idea Pins get prominent placement on the app, which one creator tells me has helped her get noticed and gain more followers. Creators on Pinterest can also more easily direct visitors to their personal blog where they can earn money from ads or charge brands for guest posts, said Shiquita Hyman, a 35-year-old Pinterest fashion and beauty content creator from North Carolina, who’s part of the platform’s pilot program to match influencers with brands. Her page receives 1 million monthly views, and some of those users then go to her separate fashion and beauty blog.

A photo of Hyman’s hair after using a Garnier repairing conditioner consistently drives people back to her blog even though it was posted four years ago. “It wasn’t even the best quality photo,” she said. “People keep clicking on it and reading that blog.”

Pinterest may not have the cash firepower of Facebook or the mainstream appeal of TikTok. But as the online ads market booms and benefits Pinterest’s core business, the company could have more money to throw at creators.

Here’s what else is going on...

Deals & Debuts

Klarna, a service that lets people “buy now, pay later” via interest-free payments, acquired APPRL, which connects content creators to advertisers, presumably in order to get more creators to talk about Klarna. Both firms are Swedish, and the price wasn’t disclosed.

Norby, which develops marketing-related software for creators, announced $3.8 million in seed financing led by Google’s Gradient Ventures

Eloelo, an Indian livestreaming app in which video creators host games for fans, raised $2.1 million in funding led by Indian venture firms Waterbridge Ventures and Lumikai Fund.

Instagram announced a number of changes it said would protect younger people, They include making accounts of users under 16 private by default in the U.S., and making it harder for “potentially suspicious” adults who have been blocked or reported by teens to follow other young people or leave comments. Advertisers will also no longer be able to target users under 18 by their interests or web browsing activity.  The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday highlighted some of the challenges Instagram faces in protecting younger users, showing how searching for the hashtag #preteen recommended posts that were tagged with #preteenmodel and #preteenfeet, both of which featured “sometimes graphic comments from what appeared to be adult male users on pictures featuring young girls.”

Instagram also said short-form Reels videos can be up to 60 seconds long, up from the prior 30 second limit. The move comes after TikTok recently expanded the time limit for its videos to three minutes.

Discord launched a new chat feature called Threads, similar to a Slack feature in which users can have a side conversation that appears in a separate feed.

Substack officially announced a crash course for writers to help them earn their first $1,000 in subscriptions. Starting August 11, Substack’s Grow program, which The Information reported on earlier this month, will host six weekly sessions virtually for free.  

Big Number

YouTube’s short-form video feature Shorts now has more than 15 billion daily views around the world, up from 6.5 billion in March, Alphabet executives said on its second-quarter earnings call. That may sound like a lot, but it’s an unsurprising figure given that Shorts is heavily promoted in YouTube’s app, and plenty of Shorts are actually TikTok-branded videos which previously went viral on that app.

People on the Move

Vishal Shah, VP of product at Instagram, is moving over to parent company Facebook to lead its new Metaverse product group. Read more details on the new team in my colleague Mathew Olson’s Reality Check newsletter.

Ashley Yuki and Max Eulenstein will now be Instagram’s co-heads of product. Eulenstein is rejoining the company after a four-month stint at Instacart, which, as The Information previously reported, has been on a hiring spree of Facebook employees. Both Yuki and Eulenstein were previously directors of product management at Instagram, so this move represents a title promotion.

Amazon’s Twitch hired Constance Knight as its first vice president of creators. She previously held senior leadership roles at Instagram and YouTube. 

Tala Akhavan, former executive chief of staff at Uber, is joining Pietra as its first chief operating officer. The New York-based startup, which has raised $20 million in funding, allows creators to launch their own product lines, including makeup and clothing. Its CEO and cofounder Ronak Trivedi previously was a senior product manager at Uber.   

What We’re Reading and Watching

• New Amazon comic book deal is putting creators first (Gizmodo)

• TikTok a year after Trump’s ban: No change, but new threats (Wired)

• She sampled his hit on TikTok. Then all hell broke loose (Rolling Stone)

• Facebook reports second-quarter results on Wednesday 

Thank you for reading the Creator Economy Newsletter! I’d love your feedback, ideas and tips: [email protected]

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Kaya Yurieff is a reporter at The Information covering the creator economy. She previously worked at CNN. Based in New York, she can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @kyurieff
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