Pinterest's new 'crazy fun' visual search tool identifies items in a pin

From the chaotic array of pins to the stylish items in them, Pinterest suffers from sensory overload. Now, the social network is hoping to make itself less overwhelming with a new visual search function.

Pinterest is rolling its “crazy fun” search tool to users tomorrow that aims to stamp out one of the biggest problems facing it: Users wondering “What is that and where can I get one?”


The tool lets users highlight a part of the Pin, say that super chic stylish rocking chair, and search for similar items on the website so users can find the name of it or where to buy it from. It can be accessed on Web and on mobile.

The new feature is part of the social network’s further pivot into becoming a profitable platform. Brands, as Digiday reported last month, are expected to pump a lot of money into the startup as it fine tunes its products including better measurement tools and targeting devices.

Pinterest is forecasting to rake in as much as $2.8 billion in revenue in 2018, up from $169 million this year, so it can’t move quick enough with these money making tools. It’s Pinterest’s latest stab at generating revenue, which earlier this year introduced “promoted pins” and a “buy” button where people can purchase things without leaving Pinterest.

“It will help attract a larger share of search advertising money,” Ben Kennedy, group director of mobile at Integer, told Digiday. “This play appears to reinforce the foundation behind additional paid products that allow advertisers to buy space to be the first product within search. It is also showing the importance Pinterest is placing on being a search engine first.”

Of course, visual search isn’t anything new. Neiman Marcus has a “Snap. Find. Shop.” tool within its app that does just that and Google has Goggles, an image recognition app that identifies products but is plagued with poor reviews and has been basically forgotten about.

But Pinterest’s powerful database — it layers 100 pieces of data to each picture — coupled with its scale of 50 billion images could finally be the tool that differentiates itself from everyone else.