Visual Search To Ring Up Holiday Sales For Target, Home Depot

This holiday season marketers will find new revenue streams and ways to reach consumers with visual search.

Lots of companies are moving toward cross-platform campaigns, but one of the newcomers to visual search continues to move much faster than some more established players such as Google.

Pinterest this year has added about a dozen third-party measurement partners, which enabled it to ink deals with iconic retailers such as Target.

Earlier this week, Pinterest and Target announced a licensing agreement for the social network's visual search technology, Lens. The deal gives Target the exclusive rights as a retailer in the U.S. to access the technology.

The two companies have been working together for three years. Target will integrate Pinterest's visual search technology into its Target Registry mobile app, allowing consumers to register gift ideas for weddings or new babies, for example. The plan is to make the technology available through the Target mobile app.

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While Target became the first retail licensee, Samsung became the first consumer products goods company (CPG) in April 2017.

As visual and voice recognition technology improves, there is no doubt that the industry is quickly moving into an era where the camera and microphone will play a greater role in the shopping experience, but traditional keyword search isn’t going anywhere, according to entrepreneur Michael DuDell.

Pinterest is not the only company opening its eyes and platform to visual search. Google Lens, along with updates to Bing's visual search, open up new possibilities for marketers in retail and in other markets.

eMarketer, in a recent report titled Search Marketing 2017: Marketers Seek Out Consumer Intent As Device Habits Evolve, points to a September 2016 study in which PowerReviews reports on the frequency that U.S. internet users search for visual content prior to making a purchase. The findings suggest 40% said they always look for visual content before making a purchase, another 32% did so regularly, and 20% said sometimes.

"Visual search at a higher-funnel stage can match brands up with audiences who had no idea they were searching for them," whereas buying branded keywords on Google puts impressions in front of consumers who already know the advertiser," according to Jon Kaplan, head of partnerships at Pinterest, as cited in the eMarketer report.

In addition to Target, The Home Depot also relies in visual search. The report cites Shawn Coombs, The Home Depot's senior director of product management for platforms, as admitting that he sees visual search as a way to potentially "push customers directly toward a purchase, skipping the consideration phase."

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