“Pinterest is my Google.”

by David Heitman

“Pinterest is my Google.”

Thus said my 27 year-old daughter as we were talking about her online research, selection and purchase of a diaper bag.

That was too good to pass up. Once again, I had the opportunity to use my family as an uncompensated focus group.

“Please explain…I have blog to write.”

She went on to explain how Pinterest was her instinctive point of origin for exploring her various interests, including many that end up as online purchases. I had recently sat through an impressive presentation by Amazon Media Services about how Amazon was no longer just a shopping site, but a “discovery platform.”

I realized I’d stumbled onto another one.

Pinterest Google

For people like my two daughters, Pinterest is exactly that—a discovery platform that ultimately ends up in millions of dollars of purchases. This platform begins in a largely innocuous, non-commercial way as tens of millions of people find other people with similar interests in an all-volunteer army of pinners who gladly share what they have found under a given topic.

My daughter went on to explain how she regards pins with lots of shares and likes as more valid than those with less—another confirmation of the power of the recommendation economy—and also how she sends pins to others, and weighs in with her own re-pinning or likes.

Here’s where it gets interesting from an economic perspective: She clicks the pin to go to the site that sells product she is interested in, does her research…and then goes to Amazon to buy it for less with free shipping and no sales tax.

As Google goes further down the road of rewarding paid ads to the detriment of equally valid search results of non-payers; controlling the review/recommendation process; and generally becoming more creepy and commercial, you can’t help but think that Pinterest and platforms like it will supplant at least some of Google’s dominance as the point of origin in the customer decision journey…

…at least if you’re shopping for a diaper bag.