Pinterest is beginning to extend the image recognition capability behind its visual search and production recommendation features to ads on its site, Pinterest CEO Tim Kendall announced at the TechCrunch Disrupt NYC event on Tuesday.
Extending the feature will allow Pinterest to add more relevancy to the ads by enabling them to show up adjacent to similar products that have been searched for using Pinterest’s visual search capability. Ads benefiting from the extension are now showing up in the home Pinterest feed through the Instant Ideas button and related pins section, according to TechCrunch.
Kendall said that ads relevant to images searches will also eventually show up in Pinterest Lens, the visual search capability Pinterest users can access through their smartphone cameras.
Several of the biggest names on the Internet, including Google, eBay and Amazon, have been doing a lot with visual search in recent months, and Pinterest has arguably been doing as much or more than any of them, having recently rolled out a beta version of Pinterest Lens, and integrated visual search capabilities across features like Instant Ideas and Shop the Look. Just a week ago, the company enhanced Lens with the ability to recognize QR codes that link back to brand web sites.
Pinterest has also been busy extending visual search in other ways. In March, it unveiled a browser button allowing users to incorporate images from any web site into a search on Pinterest. These efforts and the whole concept of shoppable photos has made Pinterest a very enticing platform to partner with for major retailers, including Target, Macy's and Nieman Marcus, among others.
This particular move is almost more about Pinterest that its partners and advertisers. Yes, the site is able to deliver more value to those partners if it can give their ads more relevant placement, but ultimately this is an effort to maximize Pinterest's ad revenue potential. Highly relevant ad placements, enabled by image recognition technology, could help Pinterest have another big revenue year in 2017, after its ad sales helped it to garner $300 million in revenue last year.
As noted, a variety of companies are betting big on visual search right now. Just this week, Wayfair became the latest retailer to join the party with the rollout of a “Search with Photo" function. There are many different ways to use visual search, and the players already working with the technology are sure to explore all of the angles. The companies that do the most with it early on will likely see increased customer engagement and loyalty. This latest announcement from Pinterest also shows how how it can be used to glean engagement and loyalty from advertisers.