Pinterest rolls out analytics tool for businesses. (Pinterest )
SAN FRANCISCO -- Pinterest has begun offering businesses tools that help measure the number of visitors it sends their way, another step on the path to broadening its appeal with brands and making money.
The free product, called Pinterest Web Analytics, gives businesses insight into how people interact with their content on Pinterest.
The popular online bulletin board lets you collect and share images from around the Web by "pinning" them to virtual boards. It was the 28th most visited website among U.S. Internet users in January with about 30 million unique visitors, according to research firm ComScore.
The new tool that tracks user activity, such as how frequently people click on a company's photos, was announced in a blog post Tuesday. Major brands have flocked to the service to promote their products in hopes Pinterest can influence shopping patterns.
Pinterest has not rolled out advertising or other means of making money. In November, Pinterest began allowing companies to set up official business accounts.
These are very early steps to rolling out money-making features, Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter said.
"I'm not sure how they intend to monetize, and am pretty confident that they won't try to until they think their growth is approaching a peak, but more data is always useful," Pachter said.
Pachter noted that Pinterest will have to safeguard user data. "Also, it takes skills to interpret the data in a useful way to advertisers," Pachter said.
The 3-year-old company has taken a deliberately cautious approach to its business strategy, in part to avoid the missteps of other social networks. Pinterest has said it wants to find a business model that benefits users.
Pinterest is one of an elite group of billion-dollar startups. The San Francisco company raised $200 million in funding from venture capital firms in February. The funding round valued the company at $2.5 billion.
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