Social Media

What Marketers Need to Know About Pinterest’s New Camera Search Tool

February 10, 2017

Pinterest’s newest consumer search tool – the Pinterest Lens – taps into the spirit of augmented reality, allowing users to literally search the physical world around them and then view the results – including shoppable results – on the Pinterest app. Paired with the concurrently announced Shop the Look feature and more than 10 million unique shoppable products from over 20,000 merchants on the platform, Lens can help marketers bring users from discovery through to purchase. Given the role of search in the consumer shopping journey, this development uniquely positions Pinterest amongst other social platforms.

Prior to this announcement, Pinterest’s Visual Search tool already allowed users to find products on the platform similar to those within a pin’s image. Lens goes one step further, bringing the power of Visual Search into the offline world. Now, users don’t have to describe what they’re looking for in a text-based search query – they can simply snap a picture and search via Pinterest. These developments are not falling into a social media void; Pinterest’s user base is growing – more than half of all US millennials and three-fourths of all US moms are on Pinterest. In fact, the platform offers significant reach against these key audiences, with a 97% audience overlap against Snapchat millennials and 75% audience overlap against Facebook women age 25-54.

What Lens Means for Marketers

While there are currently no ad products associated with Lens, existing brand content will begin to appear within the tool automatically. For marketers already active on the platform, their content will be positioned to inspire purchase in the online world, without requiring consumers to visit a retail location. As e-commerce continues to evolve on social and search platforms, and as consumers continue to get used to its ease and convenience, they will increasingly expect brands to participate and offer their products through such channels.

Marketers who want in on the action should begin by optimizing their pin and website content to ensure it will be easy for consumers to save and identify product attributes within pins. They should further consider bringing their e-commerce presence to Pinterest with Buyable Pins, or simply leverage Promoted Pins to either drive traffic to their existing e-commerce sites or inspire offline purchase.  As Lens is further developed, there may even be an opportunity to drive purchase directly from non-retail, real world locations. For example, if a brand is activating an experiential event, consumers at the event could be encouraged to use Lens to interact with the physical environment and discover related brand content and products on Pinterest.

What’s Next with Lens

Users are already completing more than 2 billion searches a month on Pinterest, though there is much ground to cover before reaching parity with a search giant like Google. However, as the platform continues to innovate, it could leverage its user behavior and data to inform purchase recommendations, like e-commerce giant Amazon. Improvements to this new tool and others on the platform will help make the consumer path to purchase easy and seamless. And unlike Amazon, the experience can be directly powered by what inspires users in the real world.

It’s clear from these updates, as well as last year’s Buyable Pins launch and this month’s Search Ads launch that Pinterest is positioning itself as a potentially powerful ally for marketers and an e-commerce partner at the intersection of social and search. What remains to be seen is how users react to and adopt this new tool, and whether Pinterest will enable marketers to activate on the platform at scale. Their success will be reliant on continued innovation that benefits both users and marketers.


Valentina Bettiol, Supervisor of Social Marketing and Catherine Fretter, Strategist at 360i contributed to this post.