What is Pinterest Lens?
Pinterest Lens is a visual search tool! If your iPhone or Android Pinterest app is set to English, you have it! “Lens” anything and get an array of suggested pins at your fingertips by going to the search function in the Pinterest app and tapping the camera icon. Enhancements to image recognition of food last month means that you can lens your dinner at a restaurant, or a new-to-you fruit at a farmer’s market and get ideas for recipes or ID that funny-looking squash!
Besides brand new updates to food and fashion, Lens works well on a variety of items – I lensed my microphone, my ring, and my cat, Snophie, and it nailed the microphone exactly. The ring suggestions were pretty good, with one top image even coming in with the same art deco-style as the original. Not too shabby on kitty, either.
As their super-fun Twitter account profile admits, they’re still a “bouncing baby beta,” so they don’t get everything quite right, but that can make it all that much more fun. Check out these Lens mishaps and follow-up exchanges:
Gah! So sorry for crashing and wigging out on you. Thanks for showing me what beautiful looks like as I work to get the beta-kinks out! https://t.co/NWBS1PsAur
— Pinterest Lens (@PinterestLens) March 11, 2017
And this from Jeff Sieh (you’ll never see him the same way again):
(But really…with such a full, luxurious, lovingly maintained beard as yours, WHO KNOWS what wildlife could be hiding in there?) https://t.co/QLHg7zSRM1
— Pinterest Lens (@PinterestLens) March 11, 2017
Apparently, a LOT of people are lensing themselves (can we all just agree this is a verb now?). But aside from seeing which celebrity – or critter, they resemble, people are lensing food, and they are lensing fashion. A LOT of fashion.
Pinterest Lens Gets Fashion Conscious
According to Inc.com, a spokesperson from Pinterest stated, “The main way Pinners use Lens, just like Pinterest (where there are 13B+ fashion Pins), is to find new ways to style clothing items including those they already have in their closet, and Lens is a quick and easy way to do that.” Anyone else here thinking about Claire’s Closet from the 1990s hit movie, Clueless? I “totally” need to watch that one again.
Pinterest has been working hard to double the categories lens can identify and to broaden its scope of knowledge for all things fashion – meaning it will recognize a wider variety of styles than ever before. The updates you’re more likely to notice right away, however, are in the interface.
A Stylish Lens Interface Upgrade
If you tried to lens an item in the past, you may have been frustrated by the lack of functionality in the built-in camera. There was no zoom, so you’d need to walk right up to that stranger whose boots you were ogling to snap the shot. Awkward! And forget focusing. Clear, crisp images result in much stronger results, but there wasn’t much you could do to ensure you captured them.
Now, you can zoom in, tap to focus, flip the camera, and use flash to get the best image and results possible. See it in action:
Snap Now, Lens Later
As in the boot/stranger situation, sometimes you want to shoot now and Lens later. The new interface makes it incredibly easy to choose images from your camera roll (they appear in the bottom right-hand corner) to lens anytime you’re ready to enter the Pinterest rabbit hole.
“Instant Ideas” Comes to Lens
You know that “instant ideas” circle button you see on your pins on desktop and on mobile, which when tapped will return results similar to the pin over which it appears? Well, it’s come to Lens! If Pinterest picks up a distinct object in your photo, it will give you the option to zero in on just that and retrieve similar results.
What This Means to Pinterest
Despite Pinterest stating earlier this week that they don’t want to keep people on their platform for the sake of keeping people on their platform, this is likely to do just that! And, as they strive to be worthy of their $11B valuation, they’re truly moving toward becoming a real shopping destination.
It will be interesting to see how Pinterest continues to improve results by serving up only items that are available for purchase, rather than including images for items that are out of stock or were uploaded by the Pinner. These are great for inspiration, but not for purchase. Perhaps one solution could be to only include buyable and rich pins in the results at some point.
What This Means for Fashion Retailers and Marketers
Updates to Lens specifically aimed at fashion means you need to be more and more attentive to the images you post on Pinterest and your website. What are people Pinning from your site? Is it easily identifiable? Are you creating and pinning both product and lifestyle images to give yourself the best chance of surfacing in relevant Lens searches? It was good practice before – it’s a must now.
Social Media Examiner had me on their show to talk about it. Skip ahead to 43 minutes in if you want to check it out. Oh, and I cannot recommend their show highly enough! RSVP for every Friday at 1ET.
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