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Pinterest adds visual search for elements in images and through your camera


Pinterest adds visual search for elements in images and through your camera

Pinterest said today it’s launching three new products today called instant ideas, lens, and shop the look — all of which are designed to keep Pinterest coming back over and over to discover ideas based on images.

“Early information technology used words to connect ideas, like hyperlinks,” co-founder and chief product officer Evan Sharp said. “Search engines we built today have drafted on that, they rely on words to get you answers to your questions. But when it comes to searching for ideas, words aren’t the right way. Sometimes you don’t really know what you’re looking for until you see it.”

So let’s break down each product, starting with the most important one, Lens. That gives users a way to open their camera, look at any image and Pinterest’s Lens feature will automatically pick apart the objects in an image. That can drill down into foods, animals, or even patterns like hexagons. That gives users the ability to start searching for related elements through that. Lens is launching in beta today on iOS.

pinterest lens results

Pinterest is also updating its visual search when it comes to finding specific products, isolating each product within an image. So if you’re looking at a pin from a company that may be selling a jacket, it will also pick up the image of the boots and let you jump to them. Users can also jump to additional related content to those products or elements in the photo. With most of Pinterest’s content coming from Pinterest, this gives Pinterest a way to seamlessly jump through products — and offers businesses a way to build awareness for their other products.

pinterest shop the look

Instant Ideas adds a small little circle to the bottom of each pin, allowing them to jump straight into related elements and gather additional ideas related to that topic. This one seems pointed toward getting users to find products and ideas that they’ll save on their Pinboards — like recipes or potential styles.

pinterest instant ideas

Pinterest has largely become synonymous with visual search, with that technology becoming the company’s specialty and point of differentiation against other networks. With 150 million users, Pinterest is geared toward getting people to come in and start sort of wandering around to start discovering ideas and products they might not have known they wanted.

However, we’re starting to see some of these tools trickle down into other services, though maybe in a different fashion. Houzz, for example, breaks down specific products in a photo of a room or home that users can purchase. There are startups like Clarifai that are looking to equip small businesses with similar visual search tools, though they take more of a metadata and tagging approach that can teach their algorithms. And there’s always Google, which has invested heavily in visual search, but has yet to necessarily weaponize it in the same way Pinterest has for potential advertisers.

Nevertheless, these Pinterest products are a potential gold mine for those marketers. Pinterest is able to potentially engage with users at different points in their purchasing lifetime. Whether that’s in the mode where they are looking to discover ideas — and build brand awareness — to drilling them into finding a specific product and buying it, Pinterest offers a wide range of advertising products to get at each part of the customer’s shopping timeline.

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