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.
How has visual search gotten better in the past year?
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.
How many searches are visual searches?
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.
What’s the advantage of using visual search?
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.
What are the marketing possibilities?
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.
What should marketers be doing?
Optimizing images for visual search is still very early, but marketers need to build their image libraries, catalog them and think of ways in which the physical world could spur a visual search.
WHAT’S IN THIS REPORT? This report looks at the current state of visual search and how consumers are using it. It also lays out how marketers should think about visual search as it rapidly evolves.
KEY STAT: Visual search was the technology US and UK millennial internet users would feel most comfortable incorporating into their digital shopping experience, at 62.2%.
With the Image Search tool, smartphone users can take a picture of an item and search for it on eBay. They can also search for an image found on another site within eBay to research pertinent product reviews and recommendations.