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Is Visual Search the Wave of the Future?

Is Visual Search the Wave of the Future?

Written by enCOMPASS Agency

Visual search hasn’t yet gone mainstream, but that hasn’t stopped it from generating serious buzz. In November 2019, the company ViSenze conducted a survey of U.S. consumers, and more than half of the respondents said they were excited about making visual search a part of their online shopping experience. (By contrast, around 40 percent said they were excited about automated product recommendations; only seven percent expressed interest in live chatbots.)

What is Visual Search?

So what is visual search, exactly? Essentially, it’s technology that allows the consumer to take a quick photograph of whatever item they’re looking at. A visual search engine then directs them to relevant product pages. So if you see something you’d like to spend money on, but are unsure of where to make your purchase, a visual search capability would be highly valuable.

And if it’s useful for the consumer, you can just imagine how beneficial it would be to retailers. Visual search could open up a whole new avenue for driving traffic to product pages, and to capturing leads.

Shopping and Search

More broadly, the significant interest in visual search represents an exciting intersection between the search and shopping experiences. Indeed, it provides retailers and marketers with some encouraging signs that consumers are open to the idea of commercial opportunities being embedded in their online experiences.

To reinforce this point, the ViSenze survey finds that around 43 percent of consumers like the idea of “shoppable content.” Think about Instagram or Pinterest posts that lead directly to ecommerce channels.

Again, it could be argued that visual search isn’t quite ready for prime time. Surveys show that only about 12 percent of U.S. consumers have actually used this nascent technology. But again, more than half say they want to use it, a strong indication that visual search could catch on and upend the way we think about search and ecommerce.

Search is Always Shifting

Of course, visual search isn’t the only technology that’s disrupting the way people seek information on the Web. In recent years, voice search has gone from a niche technology to a daily reality for many consumers. Virtual assistants like Siri and Alexa have helped make voice search more ubiquitous, and in turn, SEO professionals have adapted their strategies to better reflect conversational user inquiries.

The larger point to be made here is that the strategies marketers employ are dependent on how people access information on the Web; as consumer habits change, marketing strategies need to evolve and adapt in kind. There is no telling when big disruptions will happen, and it’s entirely possible that visual search will turn out to be a bust. Then again, it’s just as likely that it will take hold in a more pervasive way than voice search has.

Awaiting the Next Disruption

In developing online marketing strategies, it’s important to always be looking ahead, keeping a finger to the pulse of what’s happening, and preparing to change as needed. Here at enCOMPASS Agency, we’re committed not just to maintaining vigilance, but to keeping all of our clients in the loop about what’s new in search, and what it means for their campaigns.

If you have any questions about visual search or any other trends, we welcome you to reach out to us at any time.