Sergey Karshkov: Development of Visual Search

Founded by Sergey Karshkov, 9 Pandas is at the forefront of marketing technology innovation. With visual search rapidly becoming a marketing industry standard, this article explores the scope and potential applications of this groundbreaking new technology.

What Is Visual Search?

Visual search takes user experiences to a whole new level. The most widely recognised example of visual search is Google’s ‘Search By Image’. With visual search, users can search by uploading an image, enabling them to get more specific results.

Keen to jump on the visual search bandwagon, Pinterest launched Lens, a visual search tool which enables users to search by image to identify online retailers selling a product they want to buy. They can also use Pinterest Lens to view pinboards of related items, or search for similar products.

The tool essentially turns mobile cameras into a search bar. Pinterest Lens recognises around 2.5 billion home and fashion items today, inspiring more than 600 million searches via Pinterest’s mobile apps and browser extensions.

Pinterest has made several tweaks to its programming to improve functionality, including the introduction of Pincodes, a QR code-type technology which helps users find inspiration while shopping or browsing their favourite magazines. Pinterest also launched Lens Your Look, helping users with outfit planning, as well as automating Shop the Look, a feature that connects consumers with Pinterest’s corporate partners, enabling users to buy products featured on the app.

Other examples of visual search include Google Lens, Bing Visual Search, and CamFind.

How Could Visual Search Change the Future of Marketing?

Visual search is already having a revolutionary impact on advertising. In recent years, Google has increased its Google Lens capabilities, enabling the platform to perform a variety of impressive actions that seamlessly integrate technology into everyday life. For example, if an individual is visiting a new city and is interested in reviews of a particular restaurant, rather than conducting a text-search, they can simply scan a picture of the restaurant in Google Lens, receiving ratings, reviews, and the restaurant menu in seconds.

Visual search raises the bar in terms of digital transformation expectations, enabling customers to find precisely the item them want up to five times faster than with a text-based search. It also enhances social influencer optimisation. Traditionally, influencers make a post about a specific item, pointing viewers towards the retailer’s site and coaxing them to purchase the product. Visual search could potentially expand social influencers’ capabilities, prompting consumers to buy more from the retailer by suggesting other items.

A decade ago, companies spent millions of dollars on physical ad campaigns. Leveraging the powers of digital advertising, particularly in terms of tracking and data analysis, advertisers devised more sophisticated marketing strategies to increase their ROI. Many marketing experts predict that history is about to repeat itself, with visual search emerging as a market-leading tool.