Pinterest’s steps towards body-positivity in the Display Ad department

In the past few months, we’ve been seeing a lot of updates on the Display Ad content front, and it seems that Pinterest has now decided to come on board the restrictions party. However, in this case, reasons seem to make a lot more sense, and they also went very transparent on the benefits that will create for them to have updated their weight-loss display ads launching conditions. 

According to this article, Pinterest is no longer allowing publishers to launch just any Display Ads about weight loss in their platform, and have now disclosed a list of prohibitions about them, as well as the reasons why they are making this decision, and the benefits that it will bring to their company in the future. So today, we’ll deep dive into Pinterest’s content restrictions, and what we have to say about them. So let’s jump right in, shall we? 

Until now, Pinterest already had some restrictions towards weight-loss Ads such as forbidding Ads about appetite suppressant pills, supplements, or other products, before-and-after weight-loss imagery, and ads for liposuction and fat burning. They had also banned imagery or language that mocks or discredits certain body types or appearances, unrealistic cosmetic results, and searches related to eating disorders or ‘terms suggesting a restrictive mindset’. 

As an addition to their previous content policy, they’ve now added a whole bunch of new banned types of ads. This new list of forbidden topics includes Weight-loss language or imagery (not just before and after, or mocking body types), testimonials regarding weight loss or weight-loss products, language or imagery that idealizes or denigrates certain body types, references to Body Mass Index (BMI) or similar indexes (no trespassing for medical professionals!), and products that claim weight loss through something worn or applied to the skin. They also blocked users’ searches for keywords such as “anorexia”, or any other eating disorders.

Basically, they are banning publishers from launching ads that are a) offensive or disrespectful, or b) unofficial or literally fake medical information. In my eyes, both these reasons seem completely valid, and actually, it seems weird that they are implementing them just now, but hey, this is not a rush contest, as long as they are acknowledging the problem and doing something about it is fine by me (it’s not like they say they are trying to protect their users, and then proceed to target teenagers for ads about gambling and drinking). So let’s see Pinterest’s explanations about it, shall we? 

So, as they explained, Pinterest’s first reason to go on with this restriction was the fact that people from all ages and genders face issues regarding body and mental health, and that one of the main sources of self-consciousness is the popular culture’s portrayal of body images that other platforms spread. Facing that scenario, Pinterest decided to move aside, and not be a part of it anymore. Instead, they started the #pintereswellbeing campaign, meant to spread a message of self-gratitude and compassion, and to improve their users’ moods and, of course, general well-being. They also recommended that other platforms take the same or similar steps in order to create a better environment for everyone on the internet. 

By choosing this path, Pinterest plans on creating a healthier environment for its users, where they are encouraged to embrace who they are, regardless of their shape or size. They said it was important for them, as a platform with over 450 million monthly active users, to create and maintain a positive experience for their subscribers, where their mental health and well-being were not jeopardized by these kinds of ads. 

Of course, the step Pinterest took ahead of other social media, is not only about turning more inspiring and relevant, but also about growth, and they were totally transparent about it. Sarah Bromma, head of policy at Pinterest, explained that positive online environments were found to have a halo effect on the brands that show up there – from awareness and sentiment to trust and purchase. So, by creating a healthier environment, more users will want to be a part of it, and they’ll grow awareness and purchase intent to the brands that appear on the platform. 

When it comes to other social media platforms, most of them also have some sort of restrictions or alternatives to protect their users, but they clearly aren’t as strong as Pinterest’s. For example, Facebook restricts ads from showing before-and-after imagery, or unexpected weight-loss results, and Ads also can’t spread negative messages about self-perception in order to promote diet, weight-loss, or other health-related products, but they are much more flexible about it than Pinterest. Another example could be Instagram, which offers help if you search for “#anorexia” or “#skinny”, but lets you reject help and continue browsing anyway. As for Twitter, they are known to be much less restrictive when it comes to content policies, and even if they do ban the promotion of health and pharmaceutical products and services, there are some special allowances, and they have nothing against diets or unofficial nutritional information. 

So, basically, it is pretty clear that Pinterest is positioning in the market as a brand that not only says to have body-positivity values, but one that actually takes them to action, and is very clear on the reasons and even about the benefits. By making this move, they are also turning themselves into a very attractive ad placement alternative for companies that have body positivity and self-love as their key concerns.

To conclude, I believe it’s great that brands are taking more and more steps towards creating a digital world where everyone can feel comfortable, and encouraging people to be proud and confident with who they are, no matter their size or shape. Way to go Pinterest living by its ideals, and making a profit out of it!

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