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

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

March 16, 2017 3:00 pm

Pinterest has launched its visible discovery software, Lens, to all Android and iPhone customers within the US.

As a part of Pinterest’s technique to seize a few of the profitable search market by mastering visible search, this can be a vital transfer and is one that may undoubtedly prolong past the US quickly.

Within the final yr, Pinterest has launched a variety of latest search and e-commerce merchandise, together with their paid search partnership with Kenshoo, Shop the Look, and Instant Ideas.

These all fall underneath the umbrella time period ‘visible discovery instruments’, and their USP is framed by Pinterest’s recurring phrase, “All with out typing a single character.”

No prizes for guessing which search big they're taking purpose at there.

Lens can be central to the fortunes of Pinterest’s decidedly various entry to the digital promoting market, so we've taken a palms-on take a look at what it's, the way it works, and simply how efficient it's.

What is Pinterest Lens?

Lens is some extent-and-shoot discovery device that analyses and interprets smartphone photographs to seek out associated Pins and concepts, then suggests them to the consumer. The goal for Pinterest is to show the world right into a set of Pins that may be captured, found, and linked to one another, sometimes by way of cellular units.

To get began with Lens (in case you are within the US), simply obtain or improve the app, then faucet the search bar inside the app, and choose the pink digital camera icon.

How does Pinterest Lens work?

Once Lens is open, Pinterest’s visible discovery know-how springs into motion. 

This will open up a digital camera body just like the one under, which is unquestionably designed to encourage the consumer to hone in on one particular object:

This is significant to the profitable functioning of Lens. Pinterest’s know-how works greatest when it may possibly isolate a selected merchandise, then cross-reference the recognized type with its database of photographs, utilizing their very own search platform.

The object is damaged down into segments; by colour, form, or product class, for instance. Pinterest has developed confidence metrics to incorporate on this calculation, to account for uncertainties brought on by fuzzy pictures or a mixture of objects inside the similar body.

This course of (outlined under in a useful diagram from TechCrunch), will permit Lens to maneuver from recognizing a shoe, to recognizing that it's a idler, by way of to recognizing that the idler is, in truth, blue.

Image: TechCrunch

So far, so typical picture search. Amazon’s FireFly know-how goals to offer the identical service, in technological phrases, and its picture recognition talents are spectacular. Google has made vital strides on this space, as has Instagram.

Where Pinterest hopes so as to add a brand new and rewarding dimension is by incorporating what are sometimes the reserve of human views: worth judgments.

By figuring out the type of the idler, Pinterest might advocate accompanying equipment, however might additionally study one thing concerning the consumer’s style. This information helps to refine strategies, so the consumer expertise is consistently enhancing.

Where Amazon will acknowledge a product and ship a choice of very comparable merchandise, Pinterest’s artistic lead, Albert Pereta, summed up their philosophy properly: “If I’m in my kitchen and have an avocado in entrance of me, if we level at that and we return one million photographs of avocados, that’s near as ineffective as you will get.”

It is within the conceptual leap from the product in view, to associated merchandise contained in Pinterest’s database, that Lens might grow to be most helpful for shoppers and entrepreneurs. Where Pinterest has a bonus within the visible search race is in its huge database of pictures, that are sometimes product-led, clearly labeled, and posted in relation to comparable gadgets.

How efficient is Lens?

All of this concept is seductive, for Pinners looking for new concepts and for advertisers in the hunt for an economical various to Google search.

But how nicely does it work in apply?

I used the app as an assist throughout my search to switch some a lot-liked however battle-weary sneakers.

First, I took an image of the sneaker in query utilizing Lens:

Pinterest’s vibrant tags on the left and proper reveal the figuring out elements of the shoe, that are primarily fairly correct. They have by no means been used for operating, however I perceive and settle for that they might have been.

Next up, the suggestions for associated gadgets. A scrolling listing of about 60 photographs was offered for this instance, which have been definitely very different when it comes to type, however there was sufficient aesthetic cohesion to say that they're inter-associated gadgets:

These photographs present an choice to click on by way of and, in lots of situations, buy. And that is the place the strains are blurred – superbly so, from Pinterest’s perspective. Not all photographs will result in that choice; many are simply different Pinners proudly sharing their footwear, offering inspiration to others.

This engenders belief, a reality that may profit advertisers in the event that they handle to mix in with this ethos of inspiring and sharing, relatively than simply promoting.

The demarcation (which is, admittedly, dissolving quickly) between paid and natural outcomes on Google is at odds with what Pinterest might obtain right here, if advertisers take note of the platform and its customers.

That stated, I tried Lens out with a variety of gadgets (a chair, a pencil, and a plant pot, to call simply three), and there was a sample throughout the outcomes. The picture recognition is nice, and it’s straightforward to make use of. Where issues grow to be murkier is inside the recommended outcomes, which present a number of potential however are the output of what's nonetheless a piece in progress.

Pinterest has fairly intelligently pre-empted and sidestepped these potential recriminations by admitting up entrance that this isn’t good – but.

One criticism of advances in shopper-dealing with AI is that it merely hasn’t delivered on the Utopian visions we have been led to consider can be actuality by now. The potential of this know-how is such that folks can’t assist however get carried away – a realization that has fed Pinterest’s determination to mood expectations.

Moreover, they've invited their customers to become involved and assist out. In their weblog publish saying the launch, Pinterest said:

“Lens continues to be studying, and doesn’t all the time acknowledge precisely what you’re on the lookout for.

Lens will keep in beta because it will get even higher at recognizing all of the issues. And that’s the place you are available!

If you get outcomes that really feel a bit meh, faucet the brand new + button so as to add suggestions and assist Lens get higher at discovering concepts impressed by no matter you simply Lensed. As increasingly individuals assist train Lens about increasingly objects, quickly it'll earn its method out of the beta zone.”

This angle of openness and collaboration might safeguard them towards some ripostes to unconvincing leads to the early levels, however there may be little question that haste can be of the utmost concern as Pinterest tries to monetize this know-how earlier than the competitors will get there.

How would advertisers measure efficiency on Pinterest?

One of the enduring points of interest of Google AdWords has been its measurability, an space the place it stays with no critical competitor.

Brands accustomed to this satisfying marketing mechanism might subsequently hesitate earlier than investing their AdWords dollars in a platform like Pinterest. No doubt, any such forays shall be experimental in nature by way of this yr, with few manufacturers prepared to take a critical danger on a nascent search know-how when such a reliable, dominant various exists.

Of vital word on this regard is the lately-introduced integration of Pinterest knowledge into Datorama, a cross-channel reporting platform. This API connector provides a brand new degree of measurement and accountability for the platform, which shall be welcomed by anybody investing in Pinterest promoting.  We ought to anticipate this performance to be commonplace for reporting platforms within the close to future.

Measurement shouldn't be the one hurdle for Pinterest to clear, in fact.

Pinterest’s variety of every day lively customers and their propensity to buy will even be beneath scrutiny, metrics that shall be of serious curiosity when damaged down by business. Pinterest is unlikely to be the appropriate match for each firm, regardless of how efficient its visible search turns into, however for some it might be the right match.

With the arrival of Lens within the US, and Pinterest’s accompanying admission that the know-how is “not good”, there's plentiful room for experimentation. The search outcomes will proceed to enhance and, with some senior recruits from Google on board to steer their visible search workforce, Pinterest means enterprise.

Time will inform whether or not shoppers and advertisers have the endurance to get on board for a bumpy, however probably very fruitful, journey.


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