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Visual Search Statistics, News, Trends, Tips, and Uses in Everyday Life

A comprehensive resource for the latest on all things visual search, including trends, stats, news, and strategy tips.

Visual Search Guide: Table of Contents

Introduction

Visual search has the potential to change the way we interact with the world around us.

Our culture is already dominated by the visual, so it seems natural that we would use an image to start a search.

Equally, it opens up a new way to find information when we don’t have the words to explain what we want.

After all, when we shop offline, we rarely start with text. Visual search brings that sense of visual discovery to the online world.

Visual search strategy for fashion. Fashion brands can now engage with users through mobile cameras.

Google, Amazon, Pinterest, Bing, and a host of retailers have all developed capabilities in this arena and their collective weight will surely see its use take hold very soon.

As part of a broader trend, visual search can be packaged under ‘sensory search’ alongside the well-documented growth of voice and the introduction of much more tactile interactions.

The technology is still in its infant stages, but recent trends reveal just how quickly it can advance. In particular, Pinterest’s visual search technology (known as Pinterest Lens) and Google’s visual search (also, imaginatively, called Lens), are leading the way.

So, I have compiled a list of particularly interesting, newsworthy, and/or impressive visual search facts and stats here.

I’ll keep updating it frequently and hopefully it will serve as a useful resource for those who wish to understand how visual search can affect the everyday lives of consumers. Or just for those who need a few visual search statistics for a presentation.

Visual Search Statistics

  • There are over 600 million visual searches on Pinterest every month. Pinterest
  • 90% of information transmitted to the human brain is visual. MIT
  • Images are returned for 19% of search queries on Google. Moz
  • By 2021, early adopter brands that redesign their websites to support visual and voice search will increase digital commerce revenue by 30%. Gartner
  • The human brain can identify images seen for as little as 13 milliseconds. MIT
  • The image recognition market will grow to $25.65 billion by 2019. MarketsandMarkets
  • Brands can now target over 5,000 categories through visual search advertising on Pinterest Lens. Business Insider
  • Image-based Pinterest Ads have an 8.5% conversion rate. Heap Analytics
  • 62% of millennials want visual search over any other new technology. Visenze
  • Pinterest projected to clear $1 billion in ad revenues per annum by 2020. eMarketer
  • 21% of Pinterest users use traditional search less when they have an option to use visual search. Raymond James study
  • In the third quarter of 2018, Google Shopping Ads generated 87% of Google search ad clicks for retailers. Shopping ads grew 33% compared with 3% for text ads. Merkle
  • 36% of consumers have conducted a visual search. The Intent Lab
  • Visual information is preferred over text by at least 50% of respondents in all categories except for electronics, household goods and wine and spirits. The Intent Lab
  • 59% think visual information is more important than textual information across categories (vs. 41% who think textual information is more important). The Intent Lab
  • When shopping online for clothing or furniture, more than 85% of respondents respectively put more importance on visual information than text information. The Intent Lab

Visual search statistics infographic:

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Visual Search Definition

Visual search uses real-world images (screenshots, Internet images, or photographs) as the stimuli for online searches.

Modern visual search technology uses AI (artificial intelligence) to understand the content and context of these images and return a list of related results.

It has a host of applications in the ecommerce industry, particularly for fashion and home decor retailers in its earliest iterations.

Visual Search Technology: Retailers

  • ASOS Style Match allows shoppers to purchase using images. Engadget
  • eBay debuts visual search technology. Business Insider
  • Neimann Marcus reports strong quarter after developing visual search technology. ZDNet
  • Ted Baker shoppable videos. Ted Baker
  • Blippar uses visual search to help customers find their way. TechCrunch
  • EasyJet launches visual search tool. Digiday
  • Levi’s and Disney experiment with visual search on Snapchat. Mobile Marketer
  • Walmart is testing an in-house visual search technology. TechCrunch
  • Salesforce launches Einstein visual search for retailers. MarTech Today
  • Syte launches new visual search tool for retailers. PR Newswire
  • Houseology launches new visual search technology. Houseology
  • CarStory launches first automotive visual search app: Business Wire
  • Snapchat’s Lens Creative Partners program helps brands find AR filter creators. Marketing Land
  • Farfetch launches a visual search app, allowing users to search for images they found on Instagram or Pinterest. Luxury Daily
  • Marks and Spencer launches new mobile visual search technology. Essential Retail
  • AI Startup Syte Helps Retailers Enable Visual Search Capabilities. PSFK
  • Lifestyle adds new retail technologies, including voice and visual search. India Retail
  • Donde Search picks up $6 million to bring visual search to more retailers. TechCrunch
  • Image recognition startup ViSenze raises $20M Series C. TechCrunch

Visual Search Marketing: Case Studies

  • Forever 21 increases AOV by 20% through visual search. Retail Touch Points
  • Wayfair uses visual search to improve the customer experience. Forbes
  • Walmart Turns Its iPhone App’s Barcode Scanner into an Augmented Reality Price Comparison Tool. Next Reality

Visual Search in the News

  • How visual and voice search are revitalizing SEO. Marketing Land
  • Forget AR: Visual search will be the hottest e-commerce tech among millennials. Marketing Tech
  • Visual search is on the verge of a breakthrough. Digiday
  • Visual search will make a big impact in ecommerce. MediaPost
  • Visual Search Leader Slyce Acquires IP and Social-Media Monitoring Technology of Ditto Labs. PR Newswire
  • Is the world ready for the era of visual search? The National
  • 3 ‘Vs’ of the future — voice, visual, and video — take center stage at CES. The Drum
  • PropertyGuru launches PropertyGuru Lens in Asia. Digital News Asia
  • Visual search leader Slyce acquires shopping platform Allyke. PR Newswire
  • Wescover is making the world a showroom. Lonny

Pinterest Lens Visual Search News

  • Pinterest and Home Depot help people decorate a new home. Pinterest
  • What makes Pinterest so shoppable? ClickZ
  • Introducing the next wave of visual search and shopping. Pinterest
  • Celebrating one year of Pinterest Lens. Pinterest
  • Pinterest launches features for the visually impaired. Computer Weekly
  • Pinterest introduces Product Pins to make visual search your own shopping assistant. Engadget
  • [PODCAST] Pinterest CEO Ben Silbermann on the future of visual search. SoundCloud
Wired podcast: Pinterest CEO on the future of visual search.

Google Lens Visual Search News

  • Google introduces shoppable image ads. Search Engine Land
  • When in nature, Google Lens does what the human brain can’t. Wired
  • Copy-paste real world text with Google Lens. Android Central
  • Cool things you can do with Google Lens. CNET
  • The new PixelBook Pen performs a visual search when you circle an image. 9 to 5 Google
  • Google Lens comes to the Pixel 3 smartphone. TechCrunch
  • Google Lens comes to Google image search. Search Engine Land
  • Google Lens, one year in: Google

Amazon Visual Search News

  • Amazon partners with Getty to provide content for visual searches. TechCrunch
  • Snap and Amazon working on a visual search product. Fortune
  • Amazon launches SCOUT for visual search browsing. Digital Commerce 365
  • Snapchat and Amazon launch shoppable image partnership. TechCrunch
  • Amazon debuts Showroom visual search shopping. TechCrunch

Facebook and Instagram Visual Search News

  • Facebook launches visual search in Marketplace. TechCrunch
  • Instagram adds shoppable images. Ad Week
  • Instagram will let you add alt text to images. Search Engine Journal
  • Facebook buys visual search technology startup, GrokStyle. engadget

Visual Search Quotes

The future of search
“The future of search will be about pictures rather than keywords.”
Pinterest CEO, Ben Silbermann
Visual search: object detection
“In the English language there’s something like 180,000 words, and we only use 3,000 to 5,000 of them. If you’re trying to do voice recognition, there’s a really small set of things you actually need to be able to recognize. Think about how many objects there are in the world, distinct objects, billions, and they all come in different shapes and sizes. So the problem of search in vision is just vastly larger than what we’ve seen with text or even with voice.”
Clay Bavor, Google
Visual search: user behaviors
“By now people have the muscle memory for taking pictures of all sorts of things — not just sunsets and selfies but the parking lot where you parked, business cards, books to read. That’s a massive behavior shift.”
Aparna Chennapragada, vice president of product for AR, VR, and vision-based products at Google.
Visual search: breaking down images
“A field linguist has gone to visit a culture whose language is entirely different from our own. The linguist is trying to learn some words from a helpful native speaker, when a rabbit scurries by. The native speaker declares “gavagai”, and the linguist is left to infer the meaning of this new word. The linguist is faced with an abundance of possible inferences, including that “gavagai” refers to rabbits, animals, white things, that specific rabbit, or “undetached parts of rabbits”. There is an infinity of possible inferences to be made. How are people able to choose the correct one?”
Deepmind
Amazon visual search
“An advantage of visual search is that it relies entirely on item appearance. There is no need for other data such as bar codes, QR codes, product name, or other product metadata.”
— Brent Rabowsky, Amazon Web Services
Visual search: ecommerce personalisation
“You’re going to see products in stock be increasingly personalized and relevant. When you encounter a product on Pinterest, it won’t just be any product, but something that matches your tastes, style and brands you have an affinity for. The challenge with ecommerce personalization is that it only works when you have massive amounts of engagement data, not just transaction data. Our huge advantage is that we have engagement data on products. Pins links to products and as an extension, we can take all the power of personalization and directly map it to products.”
— Tim Weingarten, Pinterest (ClickZ interview)
The evolution of search
“Being able to search the world around you is the next logical step”
— Brian Rakowski, VP Product Management, Google.
Why visual search will take off, according to Amazon
This is a new way to shop, allowing customers to browse millions of items and quickly refine the selection based solely on visual attributes. It is perfect for shoppers who face two common dilemmas: “I don’t know what I want, but I’ll know it when I see it” and “I know what I want, but I don’t know what it’s called.” Customers simply like an image (by clicking or tapping the thumbs up) or dislike an image (by clicking or tapping the thumbs down) to get tailored recommendations in real time and find the products that best suit their needs. Amazon uses imagery from across its robust selection to extract thousands of visual attributes for showing customers a variety of items so they can select their preferences as they go. This innovative shopping experience is powered by Machine Learning. The result is a beautiful and inspirational image feed, which gives customers the ability to explore a wide range of products in a playful and personalized manner with just a few clicks. It is currently being tested on Amazon.com and in the Amazon App for home furnishings and women’s shoes.
Amazon statement to CNBC about new visual search platform, Amazon Scout.

Visual Search Charts and Graphs

Visual Search: How it Works

Created by author.

User preference for similar product results through visual search:

How people use visual search today:

Business Insider: https://www.businessinsider.com/target-to-bring-pinterest-lens-to-app-2017-9

Google Lens in action:

Google Lens

62% of millennials would like to be able to search by image:

https://www.emarketer.com/content/visual-search-2018

Number of visual searches each month through Pinterest Lens:

Pinterest Lens: Most popular searches of 2017:

Source: https://newsroom.pinterest.com/en/post/celebrating-one-year-of-pinterest-lens

Retailer priorities in 2018:

https://www.businessinsider.com/ebay-debuts-visual-search-for-mobile-app-2017-10?IR=T

Visual search timeline:

Source: https://www.searchenginejournal.com/visual-search-images/213324/

Google Images is the second-largest ‘search engine’:

https://sparktoro.com/blog/new-jumpshot-2018-data-where-searches-happen-on-the-web-google-amazon-facebook-beyond/

Pinterest conversion rates:

https://heapanalytics.com/blog/data-stories/4-key-facts-you-should-know-before-allocating-ad-spend

Pinterest engineering:

Amazon Visual Search:

Pinterest advertising revenues:

https://www.emarketer.com/content/pinterest-makes-roughly-7-per-user
https://www.emarketer.com/content/pinterest-makes-roughly-7-per-user

Visual Search Trends

  • Integration with chatbots: Visual search starts a conversation; a fact some retailers are exploiting to integrate a chatbot into the shopping experience. Inc
  • Big retailers are on board: Target has been using Pinterest Lens for the past year. WSJ
  • Pinterest is combining visual search with text search, which should increase its reach.
  • Visual platforms like Instagram and Snapchat have a natural tie-in with visual search, if they can make the shopping experience as frictionless as possible.
  • Brands (notably, Mastercard) are dropping text from their images altogether in favor of a design-driven expression of their identity.

Challenges Visual Search Must Overcome

  • Reporting and attribution: It is not yet possible to segment search queries to see which used an image. This is a significant challenge that has deterred some brands, but we can also expect it to be resolved with SQRs and Search Console soon.
  • User behaviors: People simply aren’t accustomed to searching with an image. It may take some time for this behavioral patterns to adapt, especially as the process of taking a picture before submitting it as a visual search is less than seamless.
  • Paid search product: It will be difficult to monetize visual search in the same way as text search, as the targeting mechanism could not focus so directly on keywords. As the industry moves towards audience-based bidding, this hesitation may be addressed. TechCrunch

Visual Search Products and APIs

Visual Search Engines

Visual Search Resources

https://www.slideshare.net/ClarkBoyd/brightonseo-2018-september-28-how-to-optimize-for-visual-search

Get in touch!

If you need a visual search expert for an article you’re writing, or an event you’re hosting, get in touch via the details below:

Email: clarkboyd15@gmail.com

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/clark-boyd-digital/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ClarkBoyd