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Enhanced Google Lens


One of the most exciting yet practical new technologies we’re tracking is visual search. Don’t confuse it with using images in your SEO strategy to rank higher on Google Images (also known as visual search). Instead, we’re talking about using your smartphone’s camera as an alternative search input.

Point your phone at objects in the physical world to contextualize and identify them, as represented by tools like Google Lens, Pinterest Lens, and Snap Scan. And, like web search, it’s understandably monetizable given its intentional use case.

In fact, certain product categories can be more profitable than web searches. For example, fashion discovery and design inspiration is one of the use cases that caught our attention early on. Point your phone at shoes you see on the street to identify them (or visually similar items) and buy them on the spot.

Google boosts mapping and visual search

acclimatization and education

Of course, all of the above are not only suitable but also challenging. This is the curse of new technology. The more disruptive and innovative the greater the burden of educating consumers and changing ingrained habits. Visual search is attractive, but it still has a learning curve.

This process of consumer adaptation is gradual, especially among the camera-forward Generation Z, which continues to gain purchasing power. But for others, moving away from established search habits is still a slow process. Tapping to type text into the search box is the modality we grew up with.

But if anyone can accelerate the adaptation and education of visual search, it’s tech giants like the one above. Snap popularizes scanning tools for “outfit inspiration” among its camera-loving audience. Similarly, Pinterest is a logical home for visual search, given that image-based discovery is already built-in.

But Google may be the most influential. Not only is search its core competence, but its massive reach helps expose visual search and drive its cultural adoption. We do it slowly by placing Google Lens buttons in high-traffic areas, such as the search bar in Google’s iOS app.

Google ‘Multisearch Near Me’ Blends Local and Visual

future proof

Today, Google is taking the latest step in this campaign, introducing Google Lens to the world at scale. Desktop is his home page. Google’s homepage now displays the Google Lens logo right next to the voice search icon (see image above). None of the products or features could ask for better exposure.

Why is Google so passionate about making visual search faster? After all, it’s all about future-proofing your core search business. Looking at Gen-Z’s camera-based affinity and aforementioned purchasing power, it hopes to maintain its dominant search market share, whether it’s text, voice or visual. Blowing up all three.

Beyond future guarantees, it’s generally about increasing query volume. As one of several factors in Google’s monetization (along with CPC, CTR, and ad coverage), all starts with. Voice and visual inputs also allow Google to expand the search coverage beyond typed/tap queries.

To that end, expect our well-travelled Google properties to continue to drive visual search. Its homepage is the holy grail, and the inclusion of Google Lens speaks to Google’s visual search ambitions. Next is improving and optimizing visual search monetization. I’ll tackle that issue next time.




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