Advertising in the World of Social Media: Problems & a Proposal

pinterest icon on a mobile device

There has been controversy and some trouble with finding the best way to monetize the internet. Part of the problem in advertising today is that people feel bombarded by unwanted advertising messages.  Ads seen by people who are not potential prospects result in wasted exposure. And ads seen by people who feel forced to view unwanted advertising can carry a negative valance.

In the digital world of mobile media that we live in, people want choose what they see and when they see it. This creates a problem for advertisers. Some would argue that any exposure is good exposure, but I disagree. For example, I personally have been irritated when I want to watch a short YouTube clip and first have to sit through a 30 second commercial. Advertising should never be something that people consider a nuisance.

If only there were a way to get people to want to view an advertisement; something that people would actually seek out. While the CPM may be higher, the ad would only be reaching actual prospects. It is unlikely that someone who has sought out an advertisement would feel negatively about viewing it.

I think that one possible solution here would be to use Pinterest. The site has become very popular and is continuing to grow and stand strong in the world of social media. So before you write this off and stop reading, hear me out and then comment to let me know what you think.

Pinterest could add a section of categories specifically designed for advertisers (ex: Cleaning Supplies & Tips, DIY Home Projects, & Women’s Apparel). While I realize that Pinterest already has categories for the public to post in, these would be separate categories clearly designated to advertisers. People could then search for new products and ideas according to their interests. Advertisers could be charged per click, per “like”, and per “re-pin”. These categories may need to be a little more specific than the broad ones that currently exist. But there could be a lot of potential to this idea. These categories would also need to make clear that they were for advertising so that people do not feel as though they are being deceived. People could also subscribe to advertisers or categories that were of interest to them, so that whenever they log in the latest ads would appear in their “following” section.

If this seems confusing still, I will give an example of what this experience might be like to a user. Say I am interested in DIY Home Projects. I would check out that category and see an ad for how to build your own book-shelf. I could then click on that ad and it would take me to say Home Depot’s site, where I could perhaps print off a step-by-step and a list of the necessary items to purchase at the store.

While some may argue that companies could do that now for free as PR, it is my opinion that there are more possibilities for this concept as an advertising initiative. The site could feature ad “pins” based on one’s interest and there is no deception involved. People would be seeking out the advertising themselves and only finding things that they are at least a potential prospect for.


Published by Erin Mullen

I am currently a senior in the Brian Lamb School of Communication at Purdue University. I am focusing my degree on Public Relations and Rhetorical Advocacy. I am a member of the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) and am the Director of Creative Integration on the Bateman team, which is an elite group of students who researches, plans, and implements a public relations campaign to compete at a national level. Graduating from the Midwest College of Cosmetology in 2005, I have been working as a hairstylist for about seven years. I love the industry and am a strong believer in the importance of constant and continuing education. Communication, along with the hair/ fashion industry are two of my greatest passions; and I would ultimately love to find a career that merges both worlds together.

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