Postano tries to bank on Pinterest in real life

By Richard Nieva , written on May 7, 2013

From The News Desk

Shortly after I began working at PandoDaily, I wrote a quick post about a real-life Pinterest board at a mall, after a reader brought the photo to our attention. For a newcomer to the site, I was surprised that the post, which I had ginned up pretty quickly, got a good amount of Tweets and Likes. It had nothing to do with me, and everything to do with how much people like Pinterest.

But I think a small part of it had to do with how much people like seeing web content out in the real world. It’s like a middle school kid gawking at seeing his science teacher at a restaurant or the beach: It’s just out of context enough that it’s a novelty. Even in an environment where people are starting to wear face computers.

That’s a little bit of the experience Portland, Oregon-based Postano intends to give shoppers. The platform, made by the software company TigerLogic, allows brands to put up Pinerest-looking screens at physical retail locations, which display things like editorial photos, or social content from Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and Pinterest. Retailer Nine West has two boards in its flagship Manhattan location, and Guess set up boards at its sites at Coachella and South By Southwest this year. Other customers include Nike, Dell and Callaway.

Today the company announced a newly redesigned app that lets brands curate content from their Postano screens, along with other stuff – like longer blog posts that are smartphone screen-appropriate, as opposed to inappropriate for a giant public billboard. Those apps become brands’ curated native apps for iOS and Android. It’s the first major release for TigerLogic since it acquired the software startup StoryCode for around $7.25 million in January, whose technology is the basis for Postano.

Giant screens filled with social content are nothing new. It’s not uncommon to see Tweets streaming down a screen at a big event, especially in Silicon Valley. Those displays are often powered by a company like Mass Relevance. But Justin Garrity, vice president of product and marketing, says the difference is Postano’s focus on editorial content as well. “The big misconception with displays like this is people think it has to be all fan content,” he says. “Some brands have no fan content.” Instead, they will use pictures from magazine spreads, or things they have made especially for their Facebook pages.

Where the app falls short, though, is that content only flows one way. Right now, the Pinterest-like photo tiles from the Postano boards helps to populate and make the app a better experience, but the app doesn’t make the in-store displays more dynamic or interactive. In contrast, other companies are doing things to enhance the brick and mortar experience, to lure people away from Amazon’s checkouts. Shopkick pushes deals to your phone when it knows you’re in a store. Digital loyalty company 500friends has experimented with treasure hunts for customers.

The draw of a Pinterest-esque board is simplicity, and a focus on low key aesthetic. So you don’t want to ruin it by overshooting to create a flashy but pointless digital experience. But if TigerLogic could get Postano to be a little less static between phone and display board, it could hit the right notes in engaging customers, and do a lot to create a meaningful in-store experience.

And they probably won't need to hand out pushpins to customers to do so.