Visual Search: The Trend to Watch in 2017

Thursday, June 22, 2017

We have talked a lot about the rise of voice search technology and the implications for your business’ marketing strategies. Text-based queries are dissipating as new forms of search technology and are taking hold with consumers. We’ve seen this happen already with online marketing here in Denver and across the country. Now, one of the newest and most interesting search technologies is visual search. It essentially allows you to transform your phone’s camera into a search box.


Companies such as Google, Amazon, Pinterest, and Bing are already investing millions of dollars into this technology. Marketers are already beginning to dream up ways for this technology to be used in conjunction with AR or VR headsets, and the results could be quite interesting depending on how quickly consumers adopt this modern technology. In fact, Pinterest has already rolled out its, ‘Lens’ feature, which allows users to point their phone’s camera at an object, and then the site will offer different “pins” based on the image.


Bing also has an image search feature, which allows someone to take a picture of an object, and then Bing will do a product search for the item. For example, you’re at a friend’s house and enjoying a craft beer from a small brewery in Colorado. If you snap a picture, Bing will bring up related products online and help you find out where to purchase that specific beer. It could be an incredibly convenient technology, and it could also be incredibly profitable for marketers when implemented via products such as Google Lens & Google Goggles.


It shouldn’t be a huge surprise that image search technology is beginning to take off, but what is much more interesting is what Google plans to do with it. Google recently released the Google Lens, which effectively turns the camera on your smartphone into a search box. However, it will go one step further by creating an indoor map of a store by using a technology that it calls Visual Positioning Service (VPS). Instead of GPS, which can get you to the IKEA building, VPS could lead you straight to the Egyptian cotton sheets inside of the store. GPS takes you to the building, but VPS can take you straight to the product inside of the building.


Marketers always lose customers once they enter the space of a retail store, but with VPS, the last mile to the cash register could be utilized. This brings up all sorts of interesting questions in relation to local marketing. Instead of just B2B and B2C, your business in Denver will need to consider O2O (online to offline) marketing. While a customer is using Google Lens to find a specific kind of sauerkraut, a competing brand could advertise a coupon when the customer approaches. The ability to track a customer inside of a store is incredibly difficult, but also incredibly profitable. Google is probably more prepared to launch a VPS-type service because of the huge data cache it has already built through Maps and Streetview. Pay attention as they prepare to launch this technology.


Google’s VPS service, when used in conjunction with an AR device, will drastically change the way that local search is carried out in the future. It’s simply a matter of time. Marketers and advertisers will be able to reach out to consumers at every point in the purchasing process. The time to start preparing for that shift is now, and you can bet that we have some ideas on how to capitalize on these changes.


Feel free to contact The Great Online if you have other questions about online marketing in Denver.