Could Google Lens Drive Mobile Commerce?

Today, we’re looking at one of Google’s latest developments, the Google Lens, and how this advancement in visual search could change the future of mobile commerce. So, what is it? You’ve likely heard about voice search – the growing concerns surrounding Alexa, Siri and the like – but now the focus is shifting to what could be deemed a gap in the world of commerce: visual search.

It’s a little more advanced than the term ‘visual search’ might suggest. But essentially, the Google Lens app is designed to do the looking for you. Point your phone at something, and Google Lens – your trusty sidekick – will provide you with the relevant information that goes alongside it. So, whether you want to find out more about a landmark you’re walking past or a product you’ve eyed up in a shop, Google Lens will pull all the information it can from the image and send it back to you. You can even use images you’ve captured and stored in your phone’s gallery; the information it brings you spans text, URLs, prices, dates and more.

It has been built on the premise of Google Goggles, an app that despite its promise, fell by the wayside after suffering a lack of attention or updates since its initial release in 2009. Google Lens, though still in Google-speak for beta mode, aims to outshine its predecessor. And with talks of further investment and developments down the road, this app could well pave the way for increased mobile commerce across the board. While Lens is currently exclusive to Pixel devices, if iOS and other Android devices are given access to it, this could certainly give mobile commerce a boost.

Visual Search - Google Lens

Moving into 2018, the role that visual search will play in digital marketing strategies will continue to grow in importance. Indeed, with the aim being to integrate offline and online experiences in real-time, visual search could ultimately define mobile marketing this year. According to Forrester Research, things have been set in motion for a combination of visual search, AR and artificial intelligence; the result would be an entirely new experience for users. This will push brands to strengthen their core aesthetic and develop contextual data to work alongside their product ranges in order to win a competitive edge.

But it’s not just Google pioneering Lens technology. Take Pinterest as another example: they recently partnered up with Target who will use the Lens technology as a way of helping guide customers to their products without the need for any keywords. The aim, as always, is to make the customers’ shopping experience as easy and enjoyable as possible. In this instance, the Lens technology allows for a more seamless search process and reduces friction and frustration for the user. According to Target, they predict that visual and voice search will make up half of all searches by 2020 – in other words, as a leading retailer, perfecting this element of their digital marketing strategy could play a core role in their business success.

Visual search may not be quite there just yet, but with Google and Pinterest leading the way, things are certainly in motion. And as with most advancements in the digital world, it’s a case of keeping up or you risk missing out.