Saturday, August 05, 2017

Ebay and Pinterest Seem to Think Visual Search is the Next Frontier in Mobile Search


Ready, Set, spar! As it turns out, the sparring partners here are Ebay and Pinterest, who have recently taken-on the in-app, image-based, mobile search platform by storm. Both Ebay and Pinterest have been working on adapting machine learning to identify items that can be tagged so that their respective search features can canvas the web for such or similar items.


Pinterest introduced its image search tool called Lens, alongside a “shop the Look” feature, that allows users of the app to search, find and buy products based on the images or “pins” it searches for. This feature is however limited to the fashion, food and home d├ęcor pins / categories on the Pinterest platform.  While Pinterest started working on this idea in 2016, it officially rolled out a Beta version of the tool early in 2017 for iOS and Android users.

Fast forward five months and its Ebay’s turn to step-up to the plate by announcing the planned deployment of its version of the image-based search functionality on its Ebay app platform. Unlike the Pinterest Lens tool, however, the Ebay “Image Search” tool, that includes a “Find it on Ebay” feature, allows users to search and find products in its Ebay store using pictures and also allows users on other apps to find products on Ebay that are similar or an exact match with images lifted from outside the Ebay app ecosystem. The Ebay Image Search feature will be rolled out to both iOS and Android users but the Find it on Ebay feature will be rolled out to Android users first.
The key differentiation here is that while Pinterest’s Lens scours numerous sites across the world wide web as it “shops the look” to find a similar item for sale, Ebay’s Image Seach feature limits the image searches to the Ebay platform using the “Find it on Ebay” search. Probably the only other difference is in the naming conventions for the tools in these apps. If nothing else, at least Pinterest managed to be somewhat innovative with its naming convention…..what do we say about an image search tool called Image Search with a feature named “Find it on Ebay”. Its almost as if they weren’t even trying. Maybe that IS the point. Shrug!

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