New Tools from Pinterest, eBay, Google and Amazon Increase Accuracy, Utility
Visual search has taken off in the past two years, with Pinterest, Amazon, Google, eBay and most recently Bing launching major visual search tools. They join a number of smaller tech firms and marketplaces that have their own visual search tools embedded in dozens of apps. We expect visual search’s growth to accelerate in the coming years.
The accuracy of visual search has improved as image recognition tools have access to big training sets of images, and visual search engines learn about the implicit questions users ask when submitting images. This has created a virtuous cycle, where more people use visual search, which in turn creates more accurate visual search tools.
Visual search remains a tiny fraction of total search volume, perhaps topping 1 billion monthly searches, compared with hundreds of billions of text searches. Even so, growth has been strong, with Pinterest, for instance, seeing monthly visual search jump from 250 million in February 2017 to 600 million in February 2018.
Visual search is good at answering questions that are hard to verbalize, such as, “What goes well with this shirt?” or “What breed of dog is that?” As such, it has not cannibalized textual search, instead working in tandem with it.
Visual search currently does not contain advertising, but marketers can already benefit by embedding visual search in their apps to improve the user experience, creating rich media experiences from traditional printed media and enabling search in multilingual contexts.
Optimizing images for visual search is still very early, but marketers need to build their image libraries, catalogue them and think of ways in which the physical world could spur a visual search.
Visual search was the technology US and UK millennial internet users would feel most comfortable incorporating into their digital shopping experience, at 62.2%.
Source: emarketer.com; 26 Sep 2018