Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Meet the Revolutionaries: Clementina Piazza, Business Development Lead at Pinterest

New Digital Age (NDA) in association with LiveRamp, is spotlighting the men and women championing a data-led revolution in the marketing industry. ‘Meet the Revolutionaries’ focuses on the efforts of the industry executives helping to push digital marketing into a new era of data collaboration.

Here we meet Clementina Piazza, Business Development Lead at Pinterest, who is responsible for managing some of the company’s core product partnerships in the area of measurement, data and ad management.

Tell me about your current role.

As a business development lead, I am part of a team of very talented people who are involved – alongside product, engineering and sales – in the strategy, development and go-to-market of Pinterest product partnerships. 

When developing a product there are in fact three common avenues: developing it in-house or looking for companies that have complementary solutions to pursue either an acquisition or a partnership.  

In pursuing and managing product partnerships, we operate in a variety of different areas, all aimed at improving users’ and advertisers’ experience on Pinterest. Specifically, I am part of the team that oversees our measurement, data and ad platform partnerships. 

Can you give an example of a time when you personally have helped to drive innovation? 

Oftentimes there is a tendency to associate innovation with futuristic ideas and products, when refining existing solutions to their maximum potential is what can generate highly innovative outcomes, even if it doesn’t initially feel like you’ve created something entirely new. 

In fact, innovation stems from maintaining a delicate equilibrium. On one side, innovation can consist in staying so attuned to current needs that you develop solutions that surpass anything that’s currently available. On the other hand, it’s crucial to anticipate the evolution of these needs and foresee emerging ones to address them proactively and gain competitive advantage. 

In that regard, a great example is the work that I am doing with my colleagues to ensure that advertisers can work in a compliant way with the data they need to effectively target, measure and optimise their campaigns. This spans from working with data cleanrooms, where Pinterest was launch partner of LiveRamp Data Hub, to the number of API for conversion integrations we are establishing. 

Whilst most of these solutions have been around for a while, the innovation lies in seamlessly integrating them into our offering, ensuring advertisers can access and operate them with increased ease, addressing a significant need in the advertising landscape. In fact, when advertisers lack access to essential data it creates an inefficient cycle of media delivery, inaccurate measurement, and a suboptimal experience for both advertisers and end users due to irrelevant ads.

Besides my career in media, when I was in academia, I was involved in some of the very first reverse image search projects using the sort of image-based search that we’re all familiar with today for the study of illustrations in early printed books.

What are the most common challenges to innovation? 

The main one is a lack of innovation strategy. Sometimes companies don’t really embed innovation in their common way of operating and most of their resources end up being employed on the reactive and tactical work needed just to keep the business running. Innovation should be a dynamic and constant process that is integrated into the company’s culture and operations. By making innovation a routine process, businesses can ensure that they are continuously generating new ideas and improving their products and services. 

Also, as organisations grow, hierarchies can develop that can make change and innovation feel like a priority solely of leadership teams. Make sure that all your employees have the space they need to gain perspective and drive innovation. It doesn’t matter how junior one is or how long they’ve been with the company – great ideas can come from anywhere. As your client base is likely to be diverse, so should the inputs that constitute your strategy.   

What tips can you offer others hoping to drive innovation? 

Adopt a receptive mindset – in a world that seems to be always getting faster and faster, there is often a tendency to lean towards revolutionary rather than evolutionary approaches to innovation, believing they expedite success. However, this inclination can sometimes have the opposite effect. Oftentimes, the key to innovate lies in fact in recognizing that most of the elements for the next breakthrough product, successful company, or disruptive business are already present. It’s a matter of keenly observing and listening to what surrounds us to combine those elements in unprecedented ways. 

Make space for people across the entire organisation to be able to zoom out and think about the bigger picture. Perspective and collaboration are the best companions of innovation. If you can embed a culture of innovation in your organisation and gather a range of informed perspectives across all teams, beautiful things can happen.

How do you think digital marketing might evolve over the next few years?

I see the digital marketing world continuing in its efforts to create one-to-one connections with consumers in a scalable way, despite the changes underpinning audience addressability. 

This can be accomplished starting from creative formats and how they interact with the surrounding content. Pinterest is very much at the forefront of that, developing advertising formats that are interactive but at the same time organic and embedded with the rest of the content, creating engaging rather than disruptive experiences for the user. 

We will also keep seeing a resurgence in what is usually defined as ‘content marketing’. Rather than simply promoting a product/service in isolation, the product/service is positioned in the context of the larger issue/need that is designed to address, which empowers the customer by elevating their knowledge and helps building brand loyalty.

From a data collaboration perspective, we will see even more of an acceleration of the current partnerships between brands, publishers and retailers and the consolidation in executing these partnerships through technologies that are not only privacy-compliant but also as resource efficient as possible.

Finally, when it comes to measuring advertising effectiveness, we will keep seeing the resurgence of statistical measurement methods such as Media Mix Modeling (MMM). However, we will see these methods evolving to be more widely accessible, both in terms of agility and speed of implementation. In a landscape where user-level tracking is becoming more challenging, MMM can be a valuable tool for measuring and optimising advertising strategies and ensuring a thorough comprehension of the overall impact on business metrics.