While there have been many advances in search, more changes are coming with the advancements in Visual Search. Different than image search, Visual Search uses image inputs instead of text to return related images or content. Common Visual Search results have been related products and other informative web content.
Visual Search is a reality today in Google, Pinterest, Bing, Amazon and now Ebay. These platforms function in their own way by providing either related content within the platform or data from across the web.
There are two ways to use Visual Search today. The first is mostly used in Pinterest and Instagram through both paid and organic promotion. Users can select an object within any pin or post for a list of related objects or product listings. The second method is the use of a smartphone camera to retrieve additional information on anything within view of the camera. These results can be images, products or a variety of other relevant data sources.
Visual Search capabilities are evolving alongside the steady advancements search engines are making. While Pinterest was the first major Visual Search platform, Google is making strides in bringing this technology to their audience. As these capabilities become more useful and visible, search behavior will continue to change as it has for previous search engine advancements.
Google’s visual search engine, Lens, is being released across Google Photos, Google Assistant, the Pixelbook laptop and will be pre-loaded on the Pixel 2 phone. Combining smartphone cameras with the numerous applications of Google’s data, more visual search result types are becoming a reality. Building on product results, Google Lens can return information cards related to local businesses, events, reviews and much more.
How to Prepare
As use of Visual Search grows so will its impact and importance on brands. Visual Search will soon impact company and location information, reviews, products and services. To prepare for these changes, brands should ensure that technical best-practices are in place across their properties. Areas of opportunity can include technical site optimizations, schema markup, location management, social optimizations and ongoing monitoring. To capitalize on the future of Visual Search, these opportunities should be considered sooner rather than later.