Pinterest is heavily investing on its visual search engine Lens in order to gain a foothold in the field of search advertising. This is a field that Google currently dominates but Pinterest aims to corner market share in the near future. Lens works by giving users suggestions based on the images they have captured from their mobile devices. One of the key advantages of using visual search engines rather than its more traditional keyword-based counterparts is that it provides better search results and suggestions with less work. For example, keywords may not exactly reflect the key idea or object that the person is searching for but visual searches could provide the exact suggestion that the person is looking for by using the signals gathered from the user's images. In order to get as much information as possible from the images, Pinterest's visual search engine makes use of machine learning technology.
While it is clear that Pinterest cannot battle Google head-on in terms of keyword searches, it hopes that the use of visual search will allow the company to combat online advertising giants. As visual search engines become more commonly used, Pinterest hopes that images will eventually replace keywords when doing searches. Investors seem to like Pinterest's plan, as the company was able to raise an additional $150 million in funding. The company plans to capitalize on its investment through including paid advertisements on the visual search results. Rather than assigning related keywords to an advertisement, Pinterest's machine learning technology will do the work of getting necessary information from the uploaded images. If the information from the advertiser's image matches the signals provided by the user's image, the advertisement will then appear among Lens' suggestions.
The company is making substantial improvements into its visual search engine to entice more users into using the service. Recently, Pinterest updated the Lens UI so that users will be able to upload recently captured images from the camera roll much easier. In addition, Lens now allows users to search related topics based on the specific components of an image, like the collar of a T-shirt. Behind the scenes, Pinterest was able to double the suggestions provided by its visual search engine for every category. Pinterest is also making its Lens service more widely available, with Samsung now incorporating the said visual search engine into its mobile browser.