Gartner Optimistic About Visual Search As An Emerging Technology

Visual search -- the ability to initiate a search query using an image captured by the camera lens on a mobile device -- has increasingly become a channel that can drive consumers from becoming aware of a product to making a purchase.

Gartner classifies visual search as an emerging technology, which puts it right on par with findings from eMarketer survey suggesting that few consumers "regularly" use it.

On average, only 3% regularly use visual search and only 10% have used it in the past, according to the findings. On the other site of the spectrum, 7% are familiar with the technology, according to an eMarketer ecommerce survey conducted in June 2019 by Bizrate Insights and published in August 2019.

Gartner Analyst Mike McGuire points to artificial intelligence (AI), which sits high on the list of transformational trends, as an important technology that supports visual search platforms like Google Lens, Google Apps for Android and iOS, and Prism.



Google, Microsoft, Pinterest and other augmented reality vendors continue to invest in visual search. Their platforms use computer vision and AI to identify the image.

“Marketing success depends on the maturation of these technologies and mature data and image metadata and tagging capability on the marketing team,” wrote McGuire in a report titled Hype Cycle for Digital Marketing and Advertising 2019. 

ASOS, a U.K. online fashion retailer, already uses visual search. Its search tool, Style Match, integrates into the ASOS mobile app, so customers can zoom in on a man’s suit in a magazine picture, for example, and receive suggestions on similar suits, McGuire explains.

McGuire calls visual search a tool that will enhance the customer experience, benefiting brands most in e-commerce, content marketing, product and search marketing. Amazon also supports this media.

Earlier this month, Mondo released a study showing that 21% of the 1,000 marketers surveyed cite visual search as an important marketing strategy for their organizations through 2020. Visual search fell in line behind strategies such as experiential marketing, micro-moments, and motion design.

Gartner rated visual search as an “on the rise” strategy, along with over-the-top TV advertising, consent and preference management and personification. At the peak are advanced supply-side bidding, customer journey analytics, real-time marketing, conversational marketing, artificial intelligence for marketing, and customer data platforms.

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