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What the Future of Visual Search Means for Your Business

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Intelligent search is changing everything. Today, the biggest change by far is being driven by voice search and the increasing popularity of those devices—Alexa, Siri, Cortana, Google Assistant, etc.—that harness it. As these platforms continue to evolve based on customers’ needs, it’s important for brands to adapt to the spaces on which they hope to engage consumers.

What’s next, you might ask? Well, a picture is worth a thousand words.

Visual search is quickly headed for the top. Instead of conducting a search via a few relevant keywords typed into Google or Bing, visual search involves users conducting a search based on a specific image. And the power of that image could be a boon for your business in making a sale or acquiring new customers.

According to eMarketer, two out of five U.S. internet users said they always look for visual content before purchasing a product, and another third do so regularly. This number will only increase as intelligent services that harness visual technology become more commonplace.

We’ve already witnessed Amazon moving into the visual search space with their Echo Look, Spot, and Show products. These devices help solve a major issue with retailing products in the era of voice search: how can the consumer be certain that what they asked for is what they will get? Will it be what they expect?

This is the space the Echo Show fits into perfectly. Talk to it, and it shows you the product you’re discussing. This dramatically increases consumer confidence that what they’re ordering is actually what they want. The Amazon Echo Look exists for a couple of other reasons. Driving sales is definitely a factor for them, but so is being seen as helpful. The Look’s job (wait for it) is to look at you. It sees what you’re wearing and offers guidance on style. This top, those pants, these shoes, and so on. Because this puts Amazon directly in the path of the customer’s personal journey to look good, there’s a good chance that consumer will develop an affinity for the product—one that may even develop into reliance.

Then there’s Google Lens. Lens will give consumers the ability to search in reverse, by taking a picture of something that they’re curious about and discovering information about the object in the photo. So instead of searching for a known item and finding an image of it, the customer will take a picture of an unknown object, learn about it, and then potentially take action based on this information.

As we see more augmented (and virtual) reality solutions start to materialize, the blending of data once only shown in search results will become commonplace across visual interfaces. All of the data that you’ve invested in, marked up, and curated everywhere online will be useful across an entirely new ecosystem of solutions, helping your business to reach a new and expanding group of potential customers.

To connect with emerging consumers as they grow into their prime purchasing power, your business will have to increase your level of focus on visual engagement. While YouTube has been a force for years, in the future it’s going to be the Snapchats and Instagrams that take over. And with 69% of young consumers interested in making purchases directly through these visual-oriented channels, the time couldn’t be better to expand your data into this universe.

Want to learn more? I break down even more tips and insights on the future of search and how your business can harness this technology to reach searching consumers in Yext’s latest ebook, which you can download below.



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