SEO - Search Engine Optimization

Test-driving Pinterest Lens: How does Pinterest’s new visual search tool stack up?

Last Updated: March 16, 2017

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Pinterest has released its visual discovery tool, Lens, to all Android and iPhone users in the US. As part of Pinterest’s strategy to capture some of the lucrative search market by mastering visual search, this is a significant move and is one that will undoubtedly extend beyond the US soon. Within the last year, Pinterest has launched a range of new search and e-commerce products, including their paid search partnership with Kenshoo, Shop the Look, and Instant Ideas. These all fall under the umbrella term ‘visual discovery tools’, and their USP is framed by Pinterest’s recurring phrase, “All without typing a single character.” No prizes for guessing which search giant they are taking aim at there. Lens will be central to the fortunes of Pinterest’s decidedly alternative entry to the digital advertising market, so we have taken a hands-on look at what it is, how it works, and just how effective it is. What is Pinterest Lens? Lens is a point-and-shoot discovery tool that analyses and interprets smartphone images to find related Pins and ideas, then suggests them to the user. The objective for Pinterest is to turn the world into a set of Pins that can be captured, discovered, and linked to each other, typically via mobile devices. To get started with Lens (if you are in the US), just download or upgrade the app, then tap the search bar within the app, and select the red camera icon. How does Pinterest Lens work? Once Lens is open, Pinterest’s visual discovery technology springs into action.  This will open up a camera frame like the one below, which is surely designed to encourage the user to hone in on one specific object: This is vital to the successful functioning of Lens. Pinterest’s technology works best when it can isolate a specific item, then cross-reference the identified form with its database of images, using their own search platform. The object is broken down into segments; by color, shape, or product category, for example. Pinterest has developed confidence metrics to include in this calculation, to account for uncertainties caused by fuzzy images or a combination of objects within the same frame. This process (outlined below in a handy diagram from TechCrunch), will allow Lens to move from recognizing a shoe, to recognizing that it is a loafer, through to recognizing that the loafer is, in fact, blue. Image: TechCrunch So far, so typical image search. Amazon’s FireFly technology aims to provide the same service, in technological terms, and its image recognition abilities are impressive. Google has made significant strides in this area, as has Instagram. Where Pinterest hopes to add a new and rewarding dimension is by incorporating what are typically the…

Source: Test-driving Pinterest Lens: How does Pinterest’s new visual search tool stack up?

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Clark Boyd

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