Pinterest has launched a new visual search tool known as “Complete the Look” that recommends relevant home decor and fashion categories based on the context of an image. For instance, if a user searches for a mountain scene Pin, the platform will recommend products found in similar images, such as camping gear, hats, and so on. Pinterest’s visual search tools compete with Amazon StyleSnap and Google Assistant’s Lens.
Why This Matters to Businesses
Pinterest has focused its efforts on its ecommerce features for a while now, since they introduced shoppable pins. The new visual search tool is another aspect of ecommerce for the social platform. With this technology, the platform can recommend home decor and fashion products based on attributes and context of everything within an image a user saves or searches for. As such, brands have the potential to gain more exposure on the platform because more of their Pins will appear through visual search.
Eric Kim and Eileen Li, part of the Pinterest visual search team write, “Complete the Look takes context like an outfit, body type, season, indoors vs. outdoors, various pieces of furniture, and the overall aesthetics of a room to power taste-based recommendations across visual search technology.”
A report from November 2018 revealed that 78% of Pinterest users who engaged with home decor Pins on a weekly basis made a purchase based on the content brands shared. When it comes to fashion Pins, 83% of users who engaged with them made a purchase.
A recent report from eMarketer shows Pinterest is the most popular platform for product discovery, with 47% of users going to the network to find new products. Only 15% of Facebook users and 11% of Instagram users use those platforms to discover new products.
All that said, Pinterest has yet to release details about when the Complete the Look visual searches will be made available to users. At this time, the tool is being tested internally. It will eventually become available within Pinterest’s recommendation tools. When the tool is released to the public, I will update this post with the relevant information regarding the roll out.
Ecommerce brands can use this tool as a virtual stylist. Users can submit a photo of location, for instance, and Complete the Look will help find relevant outfits for them to buy. This would be particularly helpful for people who are traveling to a place they’ve never been, such as another country where the weather is significantly different from the climate they are used to.
Language is Limited
Pinterest released a paper detailing the technology behind the new visual search option. In that paper, we see the phrase, “the overall aesthetics of a room” which is a vague phrase that shows up just how poor our language options are when it comes to something intangible. Yes, we can say a table is a table and a rug is a rug, but it is difficult to impossible to detail why it adds to the overall look and feel of a room.
That’s the point of visual search. It makes it easier to express ourselves through images in areas where language is limited, or subjective. That’s where Complete the Look makes its mark with interpretation of images.
Let’s say I search with an image that has a pair of shoes. In most situations, I either way to know what brand they are, or where to buy them. But, let’s pretend I already own those shoes. In that case, I’d want to see other items that could go well with the shoes. And that’s where the Complete the Look tool will be useful to Pinterest users.
Pinterest’s Visual Search Evolution
Pinterest began providing visual search tools in 2017 with Lens. The service powers hundreds of millions of searches every month. We’ve also seen the introduction of complete automation for Shop the Look for buying Pinned items, and personalized results for Lens Your Look, along with new Catalogs tool that lets anyone upload and convert their entire store catalog into shoppable Pins and a Related Products feature that will appear under product Pins.
The Complete the Look option is an extension of Shop the Look pins, which identifies specific items within any Pin image and connects users to purchase pages for each of the relevant pins. With Complete the Look, the visual search engine will take into account all the products you’ve searched for in the past and provide recommendations based on relative trends and various other factors.
With Shop the Look, users can buy what they see. Complete the Look, on the other hand, crops the main product from the image, searching the scene of the image instead.
It’s harder to train an algorithm to identify the topic of a photo than it is to train it to understand the meaning of text. This development goes deep into using images to drive online conversation. Pinterest splits imagery into two categories: scene images (selfies, street photos, etc.) and product images (a single image on a plain background). Ecommerce generally focuses on product images, but with this technology will be able to build a stronger Pinterest presence by turning scene images into a curated list of product recommendations.
More Happenings at Pinterest
In March, Pinterest hired Jeremy King as the head of the engineering team. He served as both the former CTO of Walmart and the VP of Engineering at eBay, which brings a considerable amount of e-commerce experience. I, for one, am interested to see what this means for the future of Pinterest ecommerce – and I expect good things to keep coming.
Pinterest also announced a new Shopping category in the Pinterest Marketing Partner program. They also said the program is now known as “Pinterest Partners” rather than “Pinterest Marketing Partner.”
Are you a brand that’s excited about the potential this new feature will bring to your marketing and revenue? Do you plan on using it once it is released? Share your thoughts in the comments below.