Social-discovery platform Pinterest Inc. will open its first Canadian office next month in Toronto, hiring away one of Facebook Inc.'s Canadian managers to deepen its relationships with local advertisers.
Pinterest is an aggregation tool for the aspirational, letting users “pin” ideas and images they find interesting into collections on its platform – everything from recipes to wedding inspirations and sports memes. The San Francisco-based company launched in 2010 and has 250 million monthly users – 12 million of them in Canada, according to media measurement and analytics company ComScore, making it a ripe market for advertisers who want to target consumers based on what they openly admit they’re coveting.
With international expansion – and monetization – in its sights, the company will bring on Erin Elofson as its Canadian manager on Oct. 1. She has spent the past four-plus years at Facebook Canada, leading its financial services, tech and media divisions, and previously spent more than a decade at Microsoft Corp.
eMarketer has forecast that ad spending in Canada would reach $11.52-billion in 2018, up 6.5 per cent from last year, while digital ad spending would rise 15.5 per cent to $5.61-billion.
In an interview, Pinterest’s global head of partnerships, Jon Kaplan, said the platform offers advertisers a chance to reach consumers very early in the purchasing process.
“Our [strategy] is to grow the user base up in [new] markets to a point where there’s enough people to launch an advertising business, and then launch ads after it gets to a critical mass,” Mr. Kaplan said. “If we do this well, we can help businesses drive growth in the form of new customers and new use cases for why people want to buy these products."
While Pinterest has allowed advertisers to directly target Canadian consumers since 2016, this marks the company’s first deliberate effort to build local relationships. Ms. Elofson will lead a team focused on marketing, generating partnerships and understanding local advertisers. She is expected to begin a tour of Canadian advertising agencies as soon as late October. The Canadian office will be small at first – about 10 people – but Pinterest has not ruled out expanding it and could add engineering talent if the endeavour proves successful.
The company said Ms. Elofson was not available for an interview while she transitioned into her new role. But in an e-mailed comment, she wrote that because Canadians are “relentlessly seeking inspiration to enhance their own lives ... Canadian businesses have the opportunity to offer the right products and services to Pinners to help them realize those aspirations.”
Pinterest also has offices in the U.K., Ireland, France, Germany, Japan, and Brazil as well as employees on the ground in markets such as Australia.