Upgrading Lens for more online-to-offline inspiration

Ever walk down the street and see something you love, but don’t have the words to describe it? Enter Pinterest visual search. You can use Lens camera search to take a photo in the real world, and Pinterest will tell you what it is and where to find something just like it. Or if you see something within a larger Pin that you want to know more about, just zoom in to get recommendations. And now Lens is smarter than ever. Our visual search technology can identify more than 2.5 billion objects across home and fashion Pins. That means that there’s a good chance Lens will be able to help you find what it is you’re looking for.

Today we’re rolling out improvements to Lens and bringing shoppable Pins to visual search results. If you see it – online or in the real world – you can shop for it.

New and improved Lens camera search





A new Lens design makes it faster and easier to take a photo or quickly upload a photo from your camera roll. You can now also save photos from Lens, turn them into a Pin, and save them to one of your boards so that you can come back to them at any time. For example, if you’re in the market for a new sofa, you can save Pins to a board and add Lens photos of things that you see in shops in the real world for further inspiration. Lens photos will also power ongoing recommendations as you curate your room and Pinterest helps you to define your style. 

'A picture is indeed worth a thousand words. Thanks to Pinterest’s investments in pioneering technology, computer vision and machine learning, Pinners benefit from communicating what they want in an instant, without resorting to searching obscure strings of terms in the hopes that they’ll find what they're looking for. We see significant value for brands to tap into in visual search on Pinterest, as it will allow wider discovery by tastemakers and drive meaningful consumer engagements online and off', says Kieley Taylor, Global Head of Social, GroupM

Visual search and shopping complement each other

Now, when you use Lens within a fashion or home Pin to focus on a specific product or object, you’ll see shoppable Product Pins (Pins with the current price and a direct link to the checkout on the retailer’s site), along with visually similar ideas to try or buy. These latest updates make it easy to go from inspiration to purchase, whether that inspiration is sparked on Pinterest or in the real world.

Computer vision technology is no longer just a futuristic idea – it’s made its way into the hands of Pinners who use it every day. From camera search, where a picture is entered as the query, to saving Pins, visual signals are powering search, recommendations and results across Pinterest. In new research*, we found the following: 

  • 80% of Pinners start with visual search when shopping, compared to 58% of non-Pinners. 

  • When shopping online for clothing or furniture, over 85% of respondents put more importance on visual information than text information. 

  • 55% of consumers say that visual search is essential in developing their taste and style. 

  • 49% of Pinners say that they develop a better relationship with brands they love through visual search

  • 61% of consumers say that visual search elevates their experience when browsing in shops 

“We’ve worked with Pinterest since 2015 to bridge the online and offline worlds and bring back the magic of shopping through innovative paid campaigns,” said Joy Kelly, media manager for IKEA Retail U.S. “We will continue to watch the advancements Pinterest makes in visual search to help IKEA customers find the products they love and be able to purchase them when they see it.” 

Bridging the online and offline worlds with Pincodes

Pincodes – Pinterest’s visual search-enabled QR codes – are used by brands around the world to connect real-world and online retail experiences. The following are a few examples: 

  • IKEA Germany has been using Pincodes in their mailings to inspire customers with more ideas around their products and connect them to their Pinterest profile. 

  • During London Design Week 2018, The Conran Shop, a leading luxury retailer of furniture and home accessories, used Pincodes in a window installation in their flagship London shop to provide access to exclusive inspirational boards related to iconic products. Inside the shop, a custom API experience and Pincodes let people save their favourite products on their phones with a simple tap.

  • The Home Depot launched Pincodes in 30 of its shops in Mexico to offer customers inspiration and ideas for home renovations and DIY projects.

We’ll continue making updates to visual search to help you to search outside the box. These latest improvements are rolling out on Android today and on iOS in the coming weeks.


*Source: US, CSpace Visual Search quantitative survey March 2019