Pinterest's weak forecast signals intense competition for ad dollars

Illustration shows Pinterest logo

By Jaspreet Singh

(Reuters) - Pinterest forecast first-quarter revenue largely below Wall Street estimates on Thursday, a sign that it faces tough competition from larger social media players even as the digital advertising market stabilizes.

However, shares of the San Francisco, California-based company, which were down more than 9%, pared losses in extended trading after CEO Bill Ready announced an ad integration deal with Google.

The deal, which will let Pinterest serve ads via Google's Ad Manager, will help monetize several unmonetized international markets, Ready added.

Last year, Pinterest partnered with e-commerce giant Amazon.com, which analysts had said would drive material advertising spend on its platform this year.

"Third-party ad demand is scaling as we anticipated ... and we are now seeing it contribute to our growth this quarter," Ready said.

Pinterest faces competition from the likes of TikTok and Meta Platforms-owned Facebook and Instagram, which have become the go-to platforms for advertisers in an uncertain economy because of their more extensive user base and higher engagement for targeted ads.

"Pinterest’s solid but unspectacular Q4 numbers should see some scrutiny from the market, which saw Meta blow out expectations just last week," Jeremy Goldman, Insider Intelligence analyst, said.

Ad spending in the shopping category, typically one of the large advertisers in the holiday quarter, grew by less than 1% sequentially, market intelligence firm Sensor Tower told Reuters on Tuesday.

Ad spend from software and gaming categories in the U.S. saw sequential increases of 34% and 22%, respectively, in the fourth-quarter for Pinterest, Sensor Tower added.

Global monthly active users (MAUs) on Pinterest, which lets users create online pinboards, rose by 11% to 498 million in the fourth quarter compared with estimates of 484.5 million.

Pinterest posted revenue of $981.3 million for the fourth-quarter ended Dec. 31, missing estimates of $990.6 million.

Excluding items, the company earned 53 cents per share, beating estimates of 51 cents.

(Reporting by Jaspreet Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Tasim Zahid)