Photographer: Michelle Le/Bloomberg

Pinterest to Start Its First U.S. Advertising Campaign

Why join yet another social network?

That's the question keeping people from signing up for Pinterest, according to Chief Executive Officer Ben Silbermann. Except they have the wrong impression. Pinterest is a site for coming up with ideas, he says. People do post photos and videos, but it's not to get likes or comments -- it's to remember what inspires them.

This summer, Pinterest is launching its first major advertising campaign in the U.S. It's considering spending on billboards, websites, newspapers and magazines to get its message across. 

"The No. 1 challenge is getting people to understand that Pinterest isn't a social network," Silbermann said in an interview for Bloomberg's Decrypted podcast (subscribe here on iTunes). He says the app is used best as a visual search engine. "The hope is that you'll get ideas for your real life, and you'll close the app, get off your phone and try those ideas."

Pinterest is advertising to add users as other, larger networks start to mimic parts of its product. Instagram, for example, recently added a feature that allows people to save other users' pictures into collections that they can revisit later. Alphabet Inc.'s Google recently added shoppable photos in image searches. 

Since the ad campaign is still in its planning stages, Pinterest wouldn't say how much it intends to spend or whether it will include TV ads. The company is working with Janet Champ, a creative director known for Nike campaigns, and hopes to highlight users who went "from dreaming about their life to designing it," according to a spokesperson.

Last year, the company did an ad campaign in London with television and posters in public transit. This year, the effort is larger, in the U.S. as well as internationally.

Still, amid the rising competition, Silbermann says the most effective way to add users isn't advertising. It's improving the product.

"Especially as a smaller company than the tech giants like Google and Facebook, it's not negotiable that we have to move really, really quickly," he said. "Otherwise you're going to lose."

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