Pinterest is combining Lens photo searches with text searches in the iOS app, letting users of the image-sharing platform pair a search term like “winter fashion” or “date night” with a picture of a particular item of clothing, per VentureBeat. The company didn’t provide a timeline for the release on Android.
Pinterest’s Lens visual search is now used to complete 600 million queries every month, with people twice as likely to use the feature now than six months ago, per a blog post. Lens, which helps people identify something they see by pointing a smartphone at it, has more than doubled (140%) the number of visual searches in the past year.
Lens users are most likely to search for tattoos, nail styles and sunglasses, while cats, wedding dresses, plants, quilts, brownies and natural hair styles are also popular. Among categories, fashion is the most popular, followed by home decor, art, food and products.
Pinterest recognizes the power of visual search to differentiate its service from rivals like Google, with the latest news showing how Pinterest could take visual search to the next level by including text. The numbers provided by the company suggest its effort to boost Lens over the past year are paying off. Additional developments for Pinterest Lens are likely as last month, Pinterest recruited Google computer vision researcher Chuck Rosenberg to lead its visual search team and act as head of computer vision.
Pinterest says its visual search has gotten a lot smarter in the past year, and is able to identify five times as many things as it did a year ago. That includes thousands of clothing brands and styles, and household objects. Lens also has expanded beyond the Pinterest app to power Bixby visual search in Samsung Galaxy phones, web browsers and products that showcase shoppable pins from bloggers and content creators.
Pinterest also seeks to drive shoppers to e-commerce platforms to make a purchase. Retail chain Target in September began incorporating Pinterest Lens directly into its apps and experiences as part of a multiyear, multimillion-dollar advertising partnership between the two companies, per Adweek. In November, it added the Lens Your Look feature to combine text searches on Pinterest with photos of items they already owned to see styles that work with those items. Pinterest’s related Shop the Look feature helped people find products from more than 25,000 brands, showcasing its role in driving retail sales and store traffic.
Pinterest continues to carve out a space for itself among social media platforms by focusing on image searching and collecting. The idea is that people use Facebook and Instagram to share current experiences with friends, while Pinterest is more of an aspirational platform to help people collect ideas for fashion, travel, home decoration and events like weddings. Pinterest has more than 200 million active users, making it more popular than other social platforms like Snapchat, but less well known than Facebook, Instagram and Twitter (although fake users and bots inflate user numbers on all social media platforms).